White Water Paddle Questions

I have a question for the ww enthusiasts, I am in the market for a used ww blade. I would like to get an AT2 Flex. It has a foam core in the blade, I’ve been checking around and it doesn’t seem like too many companies offer a foam core blade. Why? Also as far as having a play blade versus a downriver or surf blade? I know it has something to do with how the blade attaches to the shaft, but I am not sure how. Does anyone know how to explain this in plain english, or italian? Would a beginner notice the difference between a play and a downriver.

As for me I am an intermediate sea kayaker, and a beginning surfer, and a beginning white water paddler. I have done class III white water a couple times, and surfed some on lake michigan in little white water boats.

I am essentially leaning towards getting a surf specific kayak, but I am getting a modern ww blade to do it with. right now I am surfing either in my long silhouette, or in a little pyranha, S:8 or I:3, and even and S:6.

Also does a 194 cm blade sound too short for a 5’8 " guy who is about 168 lbs?


– Last Updated: Feb-01-05 1:07 PM EST –

Foam core -- you don't see many of these just like you don't see really a lot of foam core touring blades. I hear they provide buoyancy and thus supposedly help with sculling and rolling. Frankly, as you know, good technique solves alot.

Blades difference -- blades are all attached the same way to the shaft. The differences are mainly in the size and offsets. Werner has names to imply "differences" in function or perference, eg. Player, Freestyle, Sidekick etc. But looking at the blades close, there are some slight variations in blade shapes but the main differences are mostly in the blade size. What I generally find is that stronger paddlers like bigger blades and smaller folks find smaller blades more fitting. A matter of matching strength to take advantage of the blade size. I actually have gone from smaller blades to bigger blades. When I want to move, I want to move ASAP. Bigger blades give more initial purchase. We not talking constant stroking as in touring. Rather, it is about quick acceleration and grab for those "must make" moves.

Paddle size -- 194 is probably a good start but you may end up shorter. I know folks your height using 191. I think JoeMess (Andrew) who hasn't posted awhile said he uses a 194 cm paddle and he is over 6' tall. I think an overly long blade is a disadvantage because it promotes yawing in the shorter white water boats. You can say use a higher angle stroke to keep the blades next to the boat, but in a boney run, you'll be banging or scraping the blades alot on submerged rocks and boulders.


I’ve heard that how
the blade sits on the shaft is different for a play blade vs a downriver, and that the blade will be more offset so that while capsized the blade is closer to the surface and further away from the kayak to allow easy mechanics for rolls, and I guess this facilitates play moves too. I know this isn’t a very good explanation of what I think has been explained as a difference, but I’m just not sure how to explain it.

Check Out

– Last Updated: Feb-01-05 1:54 PM EST –

werner's site out for their "design" discussion and for the photos of "play paddles" vs. "river running" paddles. The difference is in the shape of the blade. You'll see the emphasis differ in where the bulk of the blade is located -- on the top or the bottom half of the blade midsection.


Maybe the emphasis on the top half of the play blade is due to the notion that there is alot of reverse sweeping/sculling involved with playmoves and backdeck rolls. I have a Werner Player, but truthfully, I can't note the performance difference in actual usage. I like my Onno better for the smaller offset, 15 rather than the Werner's 30, and the fact that it has bigger blades that allow for faster and more powerful moves.


My two cents
I am 5’ 10" and paddle an AT3, 194. I wouldn’t want it any longer. In fact I have thought at times of trying a shorter paddle. Corran Addison recommends really short paddles for playing. Eric Jackson recommends long paddles for playing. So there is no real consensus. Myself, I agree with Sing’s analysis. People I know about who are park-and-play types oftern use a paddle with no offset. That makes a lot of play moves easier. For example, a bow stall is a lot easier if both paddle blades are flat. You might want to try what I have been wondering about and then let me know (save me the $ for experimenting :slight_smile: ). Get a paddle with exchangable parts and adjustable offset.

oddly enough
Lendal is going to be putting out a 4-piece paddlok white water shaft. So that you can swap between their white water blades. I may actually pay full price for one of those and then get a kinetic touring blade for a sea kayak spare!

I’d be way leery of any used WW paddle
Judging from the complaints over on BT, many of the expensive, ultra-lightweight WW paddle brands have enough breakage issues right out of the box that I’d be leery of buying one used.

WW paddles take so much abuse anyway that I’d even be nervous buying a Werner used, unless it was obvious that the stick had seen very little rock contact. Used boats, yes. Used paddles? Nah…

Check out paddling.net

– Last Updated: Feb-02-05 6:52 PM EST –


i have an AT2 and AT3. the AT2 is lighter, and the foam core blades are great for playing in holes and surfing, but are not as durable as the AT3. For river-running and creeking I use the AT3, and found it’s bombproof after 4 yrs of heavy abuse. My buddy dented the blade of his AT2 on his 1st rocky run. If i’m doing park’n play I use the AT2 for the performance difference (ligher), and the AT3 for everything else. the shape of blade is the same on both. I use 15 deg offset, 193 cm. i wish my play-only paddle was shorter though. if i had only one, i’d keep the AT3 for its durability.