Wing paddle and steering control

Tried my new wing paddle with my sea kayak (skeg, no rudder). Maintaining direction, which is easy with the euro or GL paddles was difficult with the wing as sweep strokes were awkward and fouled up the paddling rhythm and technique. Tried edging but that wasn’t powerful enough.Have read that many sea kayakers use a wing. Maybe it’s not a good idea with a rudderless boat. Any thoughts?


I concur
Your experience is not surprising: the wing is a “go-fast” paddle and many find it inferior to euros when it comes to boathandling strokes (altho there is some disagreement as to which strokes and extent of difficulty.)

You don’t name your model of sea kayak, but if it’s a typical skegged British boat then I’m guessing it’s likely designed more for handling than speed, making it less suitable for use with a wing.

I own a Nordkapp LV (skeg, no rudder) and I have found it extremely difficult to control in strong winds with a wing paddle whereas controlling it is never an issue in strong winds using my euros. After one particularly difficult and frustrating outing in powerful winds, I vowed I would never again use a wing paddle with the NLV because I find my euros give me far better control of that boat.

I’d suggest you stick with your euro or GP with your “sea kayak” keeping the wing reserved for a long, narrow, fast boat with a rudder, the perfect complement to the wing paddle.

Good luck.

Works well enough, not perfect

– Last Updated: May-07-11 9:48 PM EST –

Stern rudders with the wing feel "softer" than with a big fat Euro or a longer GP. Cross-bow rudders are actually more powerful and effective with a wing. Bow rudders (not cross-bow) seem to induce more drag (due to the edge being at the back) than a flat blade but still work OK. Sweep strokes seem to work about as good with the wing as with other paddles - got to get the proper angle and motion: remember that the wing works best with a slicing stroke, so if you do a sweep stroke you want to be doing it with a little bit of a slicing component rather than just pull towards the hull.

All that said, it is easier, smoother, and overall more effective for me to use a non-wing for controlling and slicing strokes (e.g. in following seas or when maneuvering much). Part of that is because the technique is different for achieving the same with a wing - you can still link strokes with the wing but you have to do them differently compared to how you do them with a flat blade. And that takes some time to adjust, especially if you switch often b/w types of paddles. For instance, to link from a bow rudder or a draw to a forward stroke you have to still do a proper wing forward stroke, where with a flat blade you just pull back after the maneuvering stroke. If you just pull with the wing the effect is a weak and unstable stroke.

Steering control
Steering control with any paddle involves differential effort. It also involves paddle blade angle. A blade more open produces turning. These are relatively subtle adjustments but work with any kind of paddle. An ordinary forward sweep stroke with a wing is not problematic. If it is, your sweep stroke needs adjustment. I have no problem going straight with my wing paddle without a skeg or rudder. Be sure you are using the paddle correctly. I apologize if you already know this, but it is essential that you fully rotate, keep your lower arm straight, and that you allow the paddle to move out from the boat as it dictates. Within that framework you can move the paddle with more effort (faster) or open the paddle face slightly.

Learn to use your skeg

– Last Updated: May-07-11 9:59 PM EST –

I use a wing exclusively for both my 18 foot kayak and surfski.

The boat naturally wants to turn into the wind, skeg down and it will turn away from the wind. The skeg acts as the "pivot" point. Vary the deployment of the skeg and it's easy to maintain course, regardless of wind direction as well as make slight alterations.

Also, leaning without breaking your stroke is just as effective. A sweep stroke with a wing I feel is more effective than a euro paddle.

Thanks for all the input. So much for consensus. I have an Impex Currituck. Paddled the Essex River Race last May in an almost constant beam wind. Skeg down, leaning and sweeping the whole way with the Euro paddle. Trying to decide if I’ll use it or the wing this weekend. I think I need more practice.


similar experience
Paddling a wing with my impex force 5, which tracks better than the currituck, i too felt frustrated with correctional strokes.

What i found was that with sweeps especially i had to really lead with the top edge of the blade through the finish of the power phase of the stroke to gain support and increase effectiveness. In other words i had to roll my wrist back more than usual towards the end of the sweep stroke or else it felt innefective and unstable.

learning curve
I am now learning to use the wing and finding it difficult. Especially when I try to practice the stroke using my non-ruddered boat where directional corrections interfere with my high wing groove. I find it difficult enough to learn the stroke with my ruddered boat.

boat trim could help
If you boat is weather-cocking with the skeg all the way down, then you can likely improve the situation by putting more weight in the stern (and/or less weight in the bow).

I’m afraid I’m no help with the wing paddle though.

Minor correction strokes
If you need to correct to the left, move the paddle out more forward of your grove to the right. Doesn’t need to be much. Lean forward just a bit to allow this. Don’t be afraid to make minor adjustments out of your grove. You would certainly do that with a conventional Euro paddle.

The boat doesn’t have to be long, narrow, or fast. It just needs a rudder. The whole point for the wing and rudder combo is to just do a perfect forward stroke for every stroke. Never waste engergy with a correction. That’s what the rudder is for. A rudder correction will slow you down MUCH less than a stroke correction.

The wing is designed to go forward, and it does so more effectively than any other paddle design. Unfortunately, this makes it the least effective design for rudder strokes.

something is not right

– Last Updated: May-09-11 11:25 PM EST –

Not a wing user, but...

"Paddled the Essex River Race last May in an almost constant beam wind. Skeg down, leaning and sweeping the whole way with the Euro paddle. "

You shouldn't need to sweep with beam wind. Assuming your boat is trimmed properly bow to stern, you should only need to drop the skeg half way to counter a beam wind.

As a rule of thumb:

Head wind = skeg up
Beam wind = skeg HALF down
Tail wind = skeg full down.

But some adjustment would be needed dependent on the strength of the wind.

Try Paddling Parallel instead of Lateral
After the first few lateral strokes and your kayak is moving well, try paddling parallel and see how straight you go? First thing you’ll notice is your distance per stroke increases, there is more glide, and you’ll get from point A to point B in shorter time.