why are ww paddles feathered?

See “angle” post below

– Last Updated: Mar-21-06 7:15 PM EST –

See the "angle" posts below (below this branch).

Keep in mind that in my comments in the "angle" branch below, I've "retreated" somewhat from my earlier statements.

The wrist strain (hyper extension) really comes into play with a large feather in a low angle stroke. The wrist strain is almost non-existant with a feathered paddle in a high angle, modern stroke.

I was not suggesting that it was a "trueism" (which implies like a 100% incident rate). This means that I expect exceptions. Your "one" example could be an exception I expect. It doesn't contradict my general characterization of the population (which could be wrong).

It's the "statement X is wrong as a general characterization of a population because I can find exceptions" thing I "object" to!

It's kind of like somebody saying that the statement "humans are in general about 6 feet (or whatever)" is wrong because pygmies or 7 foot tall basketball players exist. (Such exceptions would invalidate a "humans are -always- 6 feet tall" kind of statement.)

Lots of excellent paddlers
in both camps. Again, no right or wrong, just what’s right for you. Friend paddled slalom for years competitively with 90 degree paddle. Now he’s at about 40. Pro WW play boaters I know are around 25 or less. I believe Ken Whiting is 0, but not sure. So, play with it, and pick what works for ya…then apply it. Happy paddling.

Bad assumptions.
To eliminate left-right motion, you need a loose grip, not a bent shaft. If you grip the shaft, your wrist has to bend. A bent shaft will change the angle of your wrist, but not the amount of bend.

Your flexion argument is equally flawed. In the example you give in your second post, if you do the same thing on the opposite side of the boat, you get the exact opposite feather angle (X degrees left feather vs. X degrees right feather). Since you can’t have both right and left feather in the same paddle, it’s pretty obvious that unfeathered is the neutral position, as it’s halfway between the two.

All of these “rules” and “demonstrations” are predicated on using ONE control hand. With an unfeathered paddle and symmetrical use of the hands on both sides of the boat, they simply don’t apply. I find it mind-boggling that this is such a difficult concept for people to grasp.

How convenient…
…for you to ignore the the “600 pound gorilla in the room” that blows your premise out of the water. Feather is feather and paddles are paddles. Here are the facts:

  • Greenland paddles work at all the same angles that Euro or WW paddles do.

  • Unless you use a single control hand, feathering is NOT necessary.

  • Using a feathered paddle requires that you use a single control hand and vice-versa.

  • Unfeathered paddles do not require a control hand and are neutral, symmetrical and arguably more natural.

But the Toksook paddle has symetrical blades (no “power” or “back” face) which changes the arguments about positioning for bracing and rolling.

Still disagree
A high angled stroke with an unfeathered Euro paddle requires that the paddle rotate in the “non control” hand unless you bend your wrist on that hand. At the start of a forward stroke on the right, the left hand is the non control hand. The same is true for the left side. With a properly feathered paddle (angle of the forearms) the paddle rotates but no bending of the wrist is necessary.


– Last Updated: Mar-22-06 10:47 AM EST –

The tooksook does have symmetrical blades but it's the feathering that matters.

The 90' feathering makes bracing on the right different than bracing on the left. The same is true for rolling.

The symmetrical blades help with rolling because you don't have to find a "special" power face if you lose control of the paddle.

In bracing, the movement has to be fast and automatic: one doesn't have time to reorient the paddle. I'd suggest that the symmetry doesn't make this any easier.

Anyway, it's not very difficult to roll on the back face of an asymmetric paddle (so the symmetry isn't that helpful in a roll). (Nor do you need to extend a greenland paddle to roll.)

Even more complicated

Stuff changes if your arms are held out straigher. Also, as the paddle is pulled back, one has to extend/flex wrists to keep the paddle blade perpendicular to the boat.

What do flatwater racers with wings do? One would think that they would do the most efficient thing.

Personal preference and marketing.
I think the ‘why?’ question is mostly related to these two things. Most paddlers like to tweak and experiment. Most marketing guys like to have something “new & improved!” to sell. When the two get together, the customer gets numerous paddle choices.

I like choices, but after trying different approaches, I settled on a paddle with an adjustable ferrule that allows me to change from 0 for maneuvering and 45-90 for straight ahead. On rivers I switch back and forth when necessary. I find it easier to brace a bigger solo canoe with 0 degree position. I also use a bigger, stiffer blade because I want to grab more water. It’s more tiring on the arms and wrists, but moves the boat more effectively. For lakes and big, flatwater rivers I prefer a smaller, lighter, feathered blade. Easier on the wrists and less wind resistance.

I paddle inland flatwater to classII+ so we’re not talking about big whitewater or surf.

Tough to change when new ideas presented
Wouldn’t it be wild if we all found out that non-feathered, that is regular paddles, were acutally more efficient, has less wind resistance in most angles of paddling and about the same into the wind, were less likely to contribute to tendonitus and injury, suited learning to roll and brace more than feathered, etc. !!!

I just think it shows how all of us, me included can swallow doctrine and come to defend it and it turns out we do things for years resisting facts because we get so tied to the habit of doing it that way.

Hey what is fun is challening each other here to try on some new ideas and ways and to stay open to learning.

That would be interesting…
I’m sure I drink as much of the paddling koolaid as the next person. I was waxing my whitewater paddle last night in the garage and I decided to practice some forward strokes while watching myself reflected off my car window. My unfeathered paddle stroke was smooth, natural, and there was no cocking of the wrists that could cause tendonitis. I then pulled out my sea kayak paddle, feathered it to 60 degrees, and did the same thing. And to my surprise, I found the feathered stroke to be smooth, natural, and with no cocking of the wrists! I couldn’t nail it down just standing there swinging my arms but I must have been doing something subconsiously regarding my control hand and my stroke to adjust between feathering and non feathering. I did practice some air braces and found that the left hand high brace still involves a lot more wrist twisting with a feathered paddle which I don’t like as much.

Adapt or perish
What you discovered is that you’ve learned both techniques and your body adapts to each paddle and instinctively uses the necessary technique. What people like Dr. Disco don’t seem to get is that either paddle works with no wrist cocking if you match it with the right technique. His claim that you must have feather in order to have a natural motion and no wrist cocking is ridiculous, but he apparently doesn’t want anyone to confuse him with the facts. :wink:

But not tarred.

Sorry. Somebody had to say it.


Don’t put words in my mouth.
“His claim that you must have feather in order to have a natural motion and no wrist cocking is ridiculous,”

I did not say this. Please read what I said with more care. For example, I did say:

“A high angled stroke with an unfeathered Euro paddle requires that the paddle rotate in the “non control” hand unless you bend your wrist on that hand.” Your statement and my statement are not the same thing.

That’s not what I was referring to
Go back and read your other posts; apparently you’ve forgotten what you said.