wing for touring?

I recall vaguely some occasional mentioning of people using wing paddle for touring. And the concensus (of the propronants) are, it’s more efficient. And with proper technique, it’s no more tiring than regular (euro) paddles to cover the same distance ('cause you end up paddling for shorter time to get there).

I can’t seem to find the messages/thread of those discussions. What’s the concensus this days, now that wing paddles are getting more and more “popular” and finding their way into hands of many non-racers?

Let you know…
in a week or so. All depends on Patrick getting it out to me. (onno mid tour wing).

Can’t wait! Listening Patrick? lol



– Last Updated: Sep-13-06 11:09 PM EST –

Once someone learns to use a wing paddle, it is difficult to go back. It is more efficient, brings stability, and allows a superior forward stroke technique in all paddling conditions not necessary racing. If I have to use a Euro again, I would ruther not paddle at all.

However, a couples of things to take into account:

A mid-wind for most paddlers in Sea Kayaks, it is a too big of a paddle. It was designed for marathon racing in k1's or on surfskis, but not sea kayaks.

For touring in/on a Sea Kayak, I would be looking at something small or Lettman design instead of a teardrop one. If I am not racing and paddling on the ocean, I love the soft feeling of my Lettman. For racing and training my Epic Mid & Large wings are outstanding.

Anyway, technique must be worked. A bad technique with a wind paddle can be painful.


My history with my wing
I got it primarily for racing, but in between racing I always went back to my touring paddle for nature type paddling. It just seemed much more natural to me.

Just within the last year I started using the wing for all of my paddling, and my Epic active touring paddle is now my spare.

My wife got a ONNO wing and has never gone back to her touring paddle.



long distance paddling with a wing
I am using a medium size Proton wing in “Safari” layup from QuickBlade: in all my kayak paddling

My racing in Texas Water Safari or Missouri River 340 is really done in a cruising mode, so it can be qualified as a fast touring. I believe that the wing paddle is helping my paddling efficiency mostly by enforcing a more proper technique.


love the wing…
While I’m still a beginner with the wing, I love it for touring. I’ve done some extended paddles with the wing and it has been extremely comfortable and I love how it forces me to paddle consistantely with good technique. While I’m a huge proponent of the Greenland paddle, the wing is a close second to me. Basically if I’m sea kayaking, I’ll take a GP if it’s gonna be rough and a wing if it’s gonna be flat these days. My sea kayaking euro paddle just gathers dust. :slight_smile:

Hi Andy_Szymczak
I feel your pain. I too have been waiting for a very long time for an ONNO paddle to be repaired and for one of Patrick’s “New” adjustable paddles. I empathize with Patrick because I also am a one man company. I feel his pain. The good news is eventually I will get the paddles…just as you will and it will be worth the wait. I will forget the time frames involved and relish in the enjoyment given to me by one of his paddles.

Hang in there! I will too.


Better workout?
I have no experience with a wing, but it strikes me that it might be better for fitness purposes. As it is, I generally can’t get the same intensity workout kayaking that I do running or biking, in part because like most people (elite athletes excepted) I don’t have enough upper body muscle mass to paddle anywhere near my aerobic threshhold–something I have no trouble doing while running.

Would using a wing have the effect of bringing the average paddler closer to their aerobic threshhold, or is my reasoning flawed?

Wing + Technique

– Last Updated: Sep-14-06 6:48 PM EST –

Yes your logic is sound, but you need to modify your forward stroke technique to the one of a wing paddle (this might take a lot of commitment, pain, and time).

However, if you don't have a pretty strong upper body, you would want to use a small wing blade and/or a faster boat to reach an optimal stroke rate (between 80 to 100 strokes per minute).

I have seen a lot of kayakers using a mid-wing in a wide (wider than 20") and heavy sea kayaks (above 35/40 lbs) at a stroke rate barely reaching 60 stroke per minute. This becomes more of weight training than aerobic training. Muscle soreness (sometimes injures) will set before reaching the aerobic threshold.


Would any kind of wing
be appropriate for an Arctic Tern (23" wide, 40 pounds)?

I’m not concerned…
I know Pat will come through. He’s waiting for one of his suppliers to supply him with needed material.

I’ll have the paddle when I get it.


IMO Wings and GPs…
… are both made to be used with narrower boats.

Of course you can use them with wider - but it’s not the same. Stroke mechanics are compromised, efficiency lost, and the full potential cannot be experienced. Doesn’t mean you won’t get some benefit - or won’t enjoy using them with wider boat- it’s just getting outside the design intent/best application.

Note the attention paid to the catch area on race boats and skis that are pretty much exclusively paddled with a wing. As narrow as possible and cutouts added where they can.

Using wider sea kayaks (some fishform!) you just can’t get the best catch - and what good is the flared path of the wing stroke when you’ve wasted half of it just getting the paddle out around the deck?

Unlike the bigger scoop bite of the wing Iceman pointed out as being too much, power application with GP is OK for typical sea kayaks. They are descended from Greenland qajaq, but commercial kayaks are very beamy and high volume in comparison. The way this changes the relation of paddle to kayak only becomes apparent when you begin using a GP in a narrower LV qajaq/kayak (same way a race kayak/ski paddler can tell you a sea kayak is not a good match for mid to large wings).

GP can be used with all sorts of angles and strokes, including a modified wing stroke - which makes is functional in may sizes of kayak. But functional is not optimal.

With GP - I feel max beam/beam around cockpit area should not be much wider than your shoulders. Narrower than that is better. If you have broad shoulders some sea kayaks do pretty well. If you’re smaller you’d do better in something narrower. There are countless reasons why Greenland qajaq and paddles are custom sized for the user. Using GPs in wider kayaks changes the stroke forcing it to lower angles and less efficiency.

To really take advantage of the GP, get good fast deep catches, and fully explore the “crunch” type stroke (with its different sort of rotation) you need a kayak even narrower than shoulder width. As narrow as distance from armpit to armpit (if your hips will fit and balance is OK) up to maybe that plus a fist. This way you’re not reaching/leaning over to get the paddle over the side (this rough measure are similar to setting beam width to hips plus two fingers for a fast kayak and hips plus two fists for something more stable).

The “crunch” stroke also benefits from a properly placed masik so you can engage the thigh and transfer the bit of extra ab force to the paddle. Then you can punch across and down ending in something nearly approaching roll setup position. That’s how it feels to me in my qajaq - but not quite that far as that could mess up the exit and transition to other side.

You can do this stroke OK in wider bigger cockpit kayaks - but it’s not the same because you end up leaning/reaching/wobbling if you really push it. Difference between doing this is my 21" sea kayak and 19" SOF is surprising. Just 1" on each side makes a lot of difference. No way to notice this extra benefit outside of a narrow enough hull that’s also doesn’t have you sitting too high.

All pretty subtle stuff. Hard to see, easy to do - unlike a decent wing stroke that’s easy to see and hard to do well.

For wings Iceman brings up good points. The bigger the boat the smaller the paddle makes sense at a given paddler output. Otherwise you kill yourself and any hope of good technique.

I have an EPIC mid wing I don’t like to use (so far) - partly because it doesn’t feel right to me power wise (better on ski even though I’m not!) - and of course due to lack of use. I need to try the EPIC in my SOF. It has a catch not much wider than my ski, but my hands may be too close to the water in it. Going the other way, my ski feels too high for GP, making it less effective for power and bracing.

I’ve always wanted to try a smaller bladed parallel edge Lettman type with my sea kayak. Looks better suited to sea kayak drag levels. A GP is a nearly parallel edge smaller area foil blade too. Guess I’d like to try a slightly more GP like wing.

I think the reason so many use the EPIC mid (and similar size/shape) wings with sea kayaks is it’s the most available and has the best reputation. Doesn’t make it the best fit for all kayaks/paddlers. “Mid” sounds safe - like a default size which may be misleading. “Sprint” says more than “Large” - but at least both let you know size matters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see EPIC do a new smaller wing specifically to address this and give the sea kayak segment something better sized that doesn’t sound like it’s a “junior” model for kids.

GPs can be also less than ideal - and this can be further complicates by the huge variety in size shape and carvers understanding and preferences. I’ve tried some VERY different GPs.

(Obviously the points about availability/reputation/variety can also be applied to euros)

Small Teardrop or Lettman I

– Last Updated: Sep-15-06 3:02 PM EST –

For the kind of boat you described and to take advantage of your already developed aerobic system. You would want a Lettmann or small teardrop (Epic wing) paddle to maintain a high stroke rate.

The lettmann I (parallel edge) is great all around paddle. In fact, one of the most popular in both South Africa and Australia for ocean paddling. I got mine from at almost half the price of an Epic Wing paddle, and for touring, one of the best choices.

If you want a teardrop design, I would choose an Epic Small Wing paddle.

Epic quality is outstanding and one of the few manufactures in supplying both "oval-shafts" and "length-lock." After so many years of using "oval-shafts" I do not like using round shafts for very long. Onno wings are of high quality as well, but for me, oval-shaft & length-lock are needed.

I use both the Mid-Wing & Large-Wing in my surfski for training and racing purposes, but I would not use neither one in/on a Sea Kayak for open water paddling.

As Grayak said, the narrower the beam, the better, but you don't need to change your boat to start enjoying a wing-paddle... whichever wing paddle you choose, don't get a mid or large one.

While we’re at it…
Since we’re discussing the finer point of different wing for touring. How about control strokes (e.g. turning, reverse, bracing)?

I’ve been told the wing makes it easier to do low brace but harder for high brace (or did I get it backward? )

So I wonder does the shape of the blade affects how easy/hard to do ceatain control strokes?

Mo ‘on dawang thang
I use the Epic mid-wing. I went to it 3-4 years ago, adjusted to it within 10-20 minutes. Over these years, I have refined the stroke with pointers from a few more qualified paddlers. Still willing to pick up pointers, but I think I am getting close to what really works.

The Epic blade catches early- I was recently told to lengthen the paddle, plant the blade early and forward, and expect the stroke rate to decrease 3 strokes per minute. I went from frantic paddling at 80-95 SPM to 78-82 in a controlled manner and increased speed and efficiency.

My 18’ boat is 17" wide where the paddle enters the water, 21" at my waist, max width 21.6". A wider boat still works but you will have to paddle with a shallower angle- less vertical- like Oscar Chalupsky does. There is some efficiency loss. In my first big kayak race, I was using a low angle with wide, full body rotation sweeping strokes. I was able to catch the leaders after a long 45 minute chase, but was worn out and ultimately dropped off the pace.

I rely on the stability of the wing, leaning on it, pulling upward, all kinds of unconscious adjustments to keep the boat level. With a flat blade, I work harder with the blade angle for the support I need.

Bracing strokes change- some you won’t use anymore as they stall the blade and destabilize you. Backing up: Don’t change the blade angle, just back up slowly with the back of blade. Otherwise, it stalls and down you go.

Best thing to do, as always recommended throughout, is to meet someone with an Epic Midwing Length-lock paddle, adjust it to fit you, and paddle for 20 minutes. Let the blade fly outward as it does its thing. After 20 minutes, change back to your original and note the difference.

Good luck, have fun playing with it.

If you want to be the next Nigel…
… I’d say skip the wing. Otherwise it will get you where you need to go.

You won’t need to brace much because you can pretty much lean on the thing DURING the stroke. Forward stroke IS your brace. Just keep moving.

Skimming low brace is fine (power face up). A deep high brace using hip flick would also be fine. A half hearted little slap of a high brace could be a problem - but you’re not likely to be doing this (refer to previous paragraph).

Rolls are no problem. Sweep rolls are VERY easy.

I don’t spend time practicing a repertoire of strokes, but I’ve managed sculling draws, side sculling (flipping blade over on forward portion), etc. Not optimal - but can be done effectively enough. Bow ruddering strokes could be ugly. Stern rudders OK. Side slipping may take some work to get used to.

The real question is:

How much of this stuff are you going to be doing at the pace you get out of doing even a fairly decent wing stroke?

Yo Franklin… believe a misunderstand
ing took place … Was under the impression you wanted to wait for new shafts. Which I should have all the parts for this week F I N A L L Y … your new / old paddle should be in your hands already … sorry man.

Andy yours will be waiting for you Monday.

YES !!! Wings for ( most ) all tings.

– Last Updated: Sep-16-06 2:40 PM EST –

Every bit of info on this thread right on point.

No worries to use the wing for most everything.

The wing is not really at its best with wide SOT though but still works fine.

As pointed out above, the 'Mid' wings are right on the edge of being a little too much for the average paddler to 'spin' or turn over with ergonomimc efficiency in some boats..... still depends on ones personal preference. It kills me to see smaller folks using these wings in touring kayaks .... even for racing. They just don't know how much better it could be. This is why it is nice to actually speak with someone about these things first. Subtle nuances of human to human conversation reveal alot.

I have a "Smaller Endurance Race Wing " ( developed before the Epic " Small wing") that works perfect to keep a regular cadence without feeling bogged down or like you have to be 'on it' all the time. Even though it is only 18" X 6" is has about the same resistance feel of my Full Tour @ 19.125" X 7.125" but with a higher potential top end.
We also make a 17" X 6" Touring Wing that is much more friendly to various Nigel strokes ..... this is a true parallel edge wing and while nowhere near as nice as my Endurance Race Wings in terms of power and best use of ( square inch for inch) projected surface area / profile , it is still a very low resistance yet highly efficient blade that is nice to use for long distance non-race paddling ...... even with a scrape-the-coaming low angle forward stroke.
Some cruising pace #s with various paddles @ fat burning HR on my website.

Hafta to scroll down a bit.

The Epic, Set, Fenn, and other varieties of Kiwi made wings from various manufacturers are all direct copy clones of the Bratcha 4 paddle.

WK… the wing also sort of coaches

– Last Updated: Sep-16-06 4:07 PM EST –

you into good form and technique .... along with this is some nice motivation to go a little harder into 'race mode' now that you have a real wing paddle that is made for this sort of thing. Once you get your legs going with the torso and keeping that ( Tern right ? )boat close to its potential top end combined with the newfound power and acceleration the wing has to catch and link as of yet uncaught bumps, you will be breathing as hard as when reading this sentence all in on breath !!!

Edited for boat correction

Hi Patrick
I knew you’d get my paddles to me as soon as you could. I did want to talk with you about changing my “new adjustable” Full Tour paddle to a wing, but oh well, that will be a reason to get another. That’s just good marketing on your side! I wait with baited breath for the paddles! Thank you for building my new paddle with beefed up blades and shaft. Now I won’t have to bring a hatchet on my camping trips! You’re the bomb.


Ps. Your paddles now out number all the other brands, of high end paddles, used in our club. Pretty good work for a one man show. Still digging my chair seat too.