Wing Paddle Advice

I just picked up a used Epic 18x, and along with the boat the sale included a new Fenn 3 wing paddle. The length of the paddle is 205-215 cm I believe. I am 6’3" and usually would paddle a 90" Greenland stick or a 225 Euro. My feeling is this paddle is too short for me, but I know nothing of wing paddle sizing. I think I want to order a 225 Epic mid wing, but I have no solid rational for doing this. Can anyone offer some advice? Also, does anyone have a longer paddle that they might want to trade for this Fenn 3? My plans are to paddle for fitness and race maybe once or twice a year. Bill

tend to be shorter because of the high angle stroke.

What kind of paddle would you want to trade it for?

wing length
Imo, wing length is generally shorter than euro because the form is even more vertical than with a euro. I’m am inch shorter than you and use my wing on the range of 213-215. But that epic boat is narrower than mine. I would give it a shake and see how it feels. I started to shorten my paddle after about a month of using it. Another consideration is the blade size. For fitness paddling and races over three it so miles a large blade is going to be tough. Most racers use a blade the size of an epic mid or smaller. Smaller probably being more common. Good luck, have fun with that boat.

Ryan L.

Oscar Chalupsky
Oscar, one of the greatest surf ski paddlers in the world, is 6’5".

He uses a 215cm wing, unless going into the wind. In that situation, he will shorten it to 210cm.

IMO, one variable for wing paddle length is speed of travel. Similar to a bicycle, the higher the speed, the “bigger” the gear. For a paddle, this translates to a longer length.

In my racing days, I would use somewhere between 216 and 220cm for a sprint kayak, at sprint speeds. In a sprint kayak for marathons, I would go down to 215cm. In a surf ski, 210-215.

I don’t race much anymore, but when I do I use an Epic 18x Sport. In testing using a heart rate monitor and GPS, the most efficient length for my fitness level, over a time of about an hour, is 212cm. I am 6ft, but I think the paddler height is relatively less important than the concept of a gear ratio.

I’m 5’10" and use…
a 215 wing in a fast sea kayak (the epic 18 is a fast sea kayak). A longer paddle might suit you better but I would keep it under 220.

Oscar Chulupsky paddles a surf ski which has a much more narrow beam where the paddle enters the water than the 18X making it better suited for a shorter paddle.

You want to be able to “plant” the blade in the water (but not too deep) and maintain a high angle.

wing paddles
The trend seems to be toward shorter length paddles with wings but paddle length depends on many factors. I’m 5’ 10" and usually use 212cm for my Epic 18x. If the paddle is too short for you it will cause problems at the catch – difficult to bury quickly and cleanly using good posture, but it will make the exit easier.

As an approximate guide you may want to give Epic’s paddle length wizard a try;

Greg Stamer

I would like to find a 220 Epic mid wing or something like it. I know Onno, Fenn, and others make some great paddles. I saw a paddle on that looked interesting. I think it was the flyer and the #8. They seemed to have some twist that I might want to try. If I can find a longer mid wing I would like to trade, or trade and I add cash because at this point I am about to order the new mid wing from Epic if I cannot find a solution that sounds more reasonable. Thanks for everyone’s advice, I appreciate the ideas. In my paddle last night, the Fenn 3 felt a little short to me. I am also torso tall and not leg tall (31 inseam). Bill

Greg, thanks for the link, I will try it

– Last Updated: Sep-21-11 2:17 PM EST –

Sorry to have missed you at Michigan TC this year. I understand you were in Traverse City, but not able to make the camp. I enjoyed paddling with you down to Arcadia in 2008. I hope to make a go of some fitness work in my new Epic and tried this Fenn 3 for the first time last night (or any wing for that matter). After four years of Greenland Stick paddling, it was a little weird (new boat,new paddle). I am sure I will get used to it. I was amazed at the connection with the water. It felt like the paddle was planted in steel, no slippage or cavitation at all, pure power. I worry about my joints with this kind of power transmission. I hope to work into it slowly with greater cadence. We are going to see. Hope you are doing well. Bill
ps- the Epic calculator shows me at 218cm in a mid or small mid. Maybe I should start with the small mid. In the GP I use a longer narrower blade with deep penetration. (err, a, yeah right)

The Fenn 3 is pretty much a clone of
the Epic Mid so I would see how you like it @ all settings before deciding on what to go with next. Paddle with it choked over to one side for a bit to get a feel for how it would be if longer. 225 is gonna be WAY too long though … even 220.

Depending on ( well, lots of stuff : ) but one thing would be the distances you are considering using it.

I would generally be recommending a smaller blade in most cases here though.

Please feel free to call me for some more real world advice and food for thought.

I am much shorter than you at 5’-9"
but if I were you I would hold off getting rid of that wing.

I used to paddle and race my QCC-700 with a 220 Euro. When I got my adjustable wing, I started bringing it down, and within a year I was using it at 215. then the year before last I lowered it to 213 and have been racing it there ever since.

Try your paddle at 215, then if it is too short, get and adjustable one 215 to 225.

Jack L

Go With the Epic Calculator
Since you are starting out, I’d go with the Epic Calculator. As you gain experience and refine your stroke, then experiment with different lengths and blade sizes. The wing is very gentle on your joints, for you can always lead with the edge of the blade and carve out laterally to the side. As your soft tissue and muscles become familiar with the movement, you can occasionally surprise them with the old fashion straight back stroke and see how far you’ve traveled before the vortices surface behind you. Now try this with different lengths of the same paddle. What do you get?


I have Q700 which has the same dimensions as the Epic 18x, and typically use a 220 or 226 low angle unfeathered paddle, or a new 88 inch GP. I also recently acquired an Onno wing. Reading the Epic site, and based on my own trials, the best wing length for me is between 211 and 213. The wing stroke is totally different and, according to Barton, the length should be set to get the best stroke geometry, especially full immersion at the catch with a vertical stroke. Too long and either the paddle goes in too deep, or the verticality decreases. As the wing stroke angle gets lower the blade does not follow its leading edge and acts more as a drag device and less as a lift device. At the lower angles you might as well use a conventional paddle with the same drag coefficient.

give the 215 a try
I paddle 215 with a Jantex mid in most boats. I go down to 210-212 in a ski if I’ve got to be going upwind much but 215 is pretty much my default whether in a ski, k1, or touring boat. A 215 Epic Mid worked well for me back when I was paddling a 21" wide QCC Q600 and on the rare occasion that I paddle my brother’s NF Legend my 215 Jantex mid works very well. I tried a large blade Epic at 218 in k1s for awhile but now, with better technique, I’m paddling at slower stroke rates for any given speed with a mid-sized wing at 215.

Drag or Lift Device?
I’ve done three Molokai Channel crossings using a fat 223cm narrow tip first generation wing that actually resembled an airplane wing with no difficulties carving out with the leading edge. It is when the 2nd generation wings with wide tips (called turbos) came out that I started paddling with a shorter 214cm paddle, which are almost similar in appearance to today’s modern wings. So your comment about a “drag device” has much merit. Check out this cartoon about lift:

Good advice.
One thing I really struggled with was the round shaft of the wing. I am used to indexing my hands on a Greenland paddle and using the oval shape to resist or control paddle twist. At times it felt like the wing was moving around a bit on me through the water, not flutter, but kind of diving towards the hull or twisting outwards away from the hull. It had enough power to pick its own direction in a way. I think Epic shafts are oval? Bill

wing path.
Loosen your grip and let the wing pick its path. You will get comfortable later and be able to really crank on it without the diving toward the boat thing. I mostly paddle unfeathered, I have noticed that if I feather the paddle about 5 degrees the catch on my left is more natural. I don’t know why but it works.

Ryan L.

oval v round shaft
I went from an Epic mid to a Jantex gamma large minus and have no problem switching from one to the other. I use my Jantex for racing and most of my training, not only do I prefer the Jantex over the Epic I feel it is better quality.

What I think I am hearing.
I believe what I am hearing here is that the correct stroke should be quite vertical and thus the length of the paddle can be shorter as it remains close to the side of the boat and in a vertical position. For some reason I thought the wing stroke started at the usual catch point and then swept away from the boat with a bit of a “flick” at the end. I watched a few you tube videos and noticed the leg pump and hip rotation were quite pronounced at the end of the stroke. This demo video showed the legs together and a driving of the hip aftwards at the end of the stroke. When I paddled knees up I started to struggle with stability which caused the paddle to wonder and the steering to be more erratic. Just getting used to the steering alone is going to be a trick. My legs have been cramping since my first paddle because of the stability struggle. I get the same cramps after a long day of rolling at Greenland camps. Too much thigh bracing I think. I will look for calm water this weekend and try some of this stuff in a slow and deliberate manner to see if I can find some kind of groove. Bill

Stability will improve
THe 18x does feel tippy at first, but once you get used to it is not bad at all. The “Sport” version is even more stable and feels “rock solid” after a while.

As for the length, the Epic wizard has changed over time how it estimates things. It used to give me 218-219cm mid or small mid where now it suggest 212-213… Go figure.

But, I have lately found that longer than 215cm feels too long for me and I would not mind going a bit shorter too. I have a 215-225 mid-wing that I use on an Epic V10 Sport and sometimes on a short and wide-ish Zephyr 15.5 sea kayak - since on the Z I sit lower, despite the width, there too I could use shorter than 215cm.

I am 6’4", btw. I used to paddle at 217-219cm with the wing until very recently (as late as early this year) when I focused more on trying to figure out if I am more efficient with the shorter length. Appears I am, at least for 10+ mile paddles at a good pace or when racing recreationally. For slow pace paddling, I prefer the GP or even a single blade canoe paddle, so the wing takes a back seat in these cases.

Once you get used to the wing, you will find it provides better support for a tippy fast boat when paddling forward than the GP does - to support yourself with the GP you lose more energy than with the wing and your speed drops.

Not sure the shape of your wing though - I have not used that particular model (and they all come in different “twists”, which if they are too “twisted” may feel unstable especially in lumpy conditions). The Epics are nice general purpose paddles and so are others with little twist. I tried a version that Stellar makes (it is different shape, not like Epic) and I did not like it in the water even though it has little twist too - whatever you get make sure you try it a bit first to see if it suits you.

you are right
The path is away from the boat, but it ends at the hip. If the paddle is too long, you will just force water down on the catch and push water up on the exit.

Ryan L.