wing paddle is kicking my but!

received my first wing last week and although i really like it i find it exhausting. i used it on a short (4.25 miles) loop today and i saw my average speed increase from 5.5mph to 5.9mph with equal effort, which is what i expected over my gp. but the difference was i was beat, and i doubt i could have maintained that speed for any longer. compared to my gp which i could maintain that effort level for 2-3 times the distance.

i’m not an arm paddler and have decent rotation. i get fatigued in my hands( a problem for me with any paddle but worse here) and my upper back. i think its related to my release point. i ordered barton’s dvd but any advice would be appreciated. wondering if others had similar results. one other note is i use a long gp, 92", and favor a higher angle stroke, but with the wing i had it set at 214cm and it still felt long. seems odd.

Note that the speed increase is not free, you are putting more power into the boat and water. The paddle slips less in the water- might even move forward if you could measure that well- and will tire you out. Slow down just a bit, work on building more endurance and technique, and the wing will really make a difference.

Endurance et all…

– Last Updated: Jul-21-08 10:34 PM EST –

I've been using a wing exclusively for about 2 years now. The first time I used it, I couldn't believe the "grip" it has in water.

Endurance takes time, but your speed is respectable. I can do some distance in 3-4 hours in my kayak and recover very quickly. But I've built up to this. I still vary my stroke from a higher cadence and high angle to a lower angle slower cadence to rest occasionally. Not bad for an old fart!

What boat do you paddle?


Yes. I had the same problem
and almost went back to my Euro.

When I first got mine it worked me to death.

The only reason I accepted how hard it worked me was the increase in speed it gave me.

It took me over a year to get completely used to it, but now I would never go back to the Euro.

My wife got her wing paddle the same time that I got mine, and she immediately took to it.

She used to say, “It flies through the water. Just let it do it’s own thing”

If I did that, I would be either upside down or not even moving.

What I did the first year was train for races with it, and use it in races, but in between when I was just expedition paddling, I used the Euro.

My suggestion is: Stay with it, and eventually it will become second nature and you’ll probably like it as much as I like mine now.



what size wing did you get? they are pretty much sized for the intended use, for long distance you may want a smaller one. I purchased mine from Oscar himself and even he doesnt use the big “Area” one and that guy is huge. also like Jack eluded too, let the wing do its thing. dont fight it.

Similar Experience
I just got my Epic Mid with the burgundy shaft about 5 weeks ago. I said very similar things to what you were writing. I just figured that I was using slightly different muscles than what I am used to using with my Euro and/or my carbon fiber Greenland paddle.

The person that I bought the wing from has spent a little bit of time in coaching me in how to properly use it. She is a very serious marathon racing buddy of mine who has taken many many seminars with the various coaches found on the East coast. She says that I have a pretty good looking stroke and that I would eventually get used to it. I still have a long ways to go.

My friend said that I should concentrate more on a proper stroke and watch my mechanics more. Also, initially, to not paddle it for more than half an hour on any given day until my stroke mechanics improve and I learn the wing. Don’t want to engrain bad habits by using the wing sloppily.

The top of my left shoulder was getting strained by my using the wing. I am right-handed and my left shoulder is significantly weaker than my right.

I can paddle for hours and hours using the Euro or the GP, but the wing kicks my butt and tires me out very quickly.

It’s all about Technique
Something to take into account while using a wing paddle:

With a GP, a crappy form will be hidden/mitigated by the thin blades -meaning low risk of shoulder injures. With a wing paddle, a crappy form: sooner or later will send you home with a injured shoulder. In fact, the typical GP form as seem on YouTub!!! from pseudo GP experts is quite poor from a “Wing form” stand point, and it more probably will lead to shoulder injures.

BTW, I would not use any other paddle than a wing one. However, I have seen quite too often paddlers (w/ Euro/GP background) trying to increase boat speed without first learning proper form to end up with shoulder problems.

Enjoy the the paddle!

How’s your rotation
I went from an ABS bladed paddle and Manitou 13 to a Epic mid wing and Epic V10 Sport, talk about a steep learning curve!

Took a couple of lessons, and noticed that as I got used to rotating and proper forward stroke, muscle soreness went from arms, to upper shoulders, to back and then to delts. Now everything is sore at once! Hehehe…

Some of the big differences I noticed and others have mentioned is don’t try to fight the paddle. Took me a while to relax the arms and grip on the paddle. It is amazing how with just two fingers pulling back, a wing paddle plants and goes where it should go. That and your upper arm should be very relaxed as you bring it across as you rotate.

I’m at the point where I have great form…at a slow cadence. Not winning any races yet, hehe. Definitely something you need to concentrate on and do slowly first, and then work on improving speed.

I agree…
… and I’m a long time GP user.

GP is clearly a great paddle, but they can be forgiving to the point of letting you be sloppy in a few different ways (at least as it relates to wing use) and not knowing it. The techniques are quite different, particularly core use.

What works so well for the GP can be counterproductive with the wing. What works for the wing can only be partially applied to GP (though I may have to try adding a but of torso swing to my GP stroke next time out).

Good GP technique developed for flatter leg use and this requires more core crunch than upright rotation. Arms/elbows stay closer to body. Forearms actively punch across and down more. Quite effective with the long thin blades, and can be a great long distance stroke that gives pretty good speed too. Also very handy when operating in cold areas as is a little less demanding energy wise and the body position helps conserve body heat.

Doing same with wing will have the blades at optimal angles a lot less less and pushing more water up and down more. Upper hand guides and stays at same level through the wing stroke to guide and control the blade angle through the flare/rotation, and doesn’t punch down with any force (translates to shoveling with wing).

Anyway, GPs are great, but even though they are a bit winglike in some ways I find it can be harder to unlearn GP habits when going to a wing than it is to unlearn EP habits going to a GP or wing.

Then there’s the Aleut paddles with their own somewhat different and a little more winglike stroke(s), and my hybrid paddle that’s used with wing stroke - both of which I find faster than GP, and less taxing than a typical wing (at least for now).

On the shoulder pain

– Last Updated: Jul-22-08 6:09 PM EST –

Hey, I had the same experience as you, primarily in my upper left shoulder (weaker than the right), though during my first hour or so I had it in both shoulders.

Three-four sessions later, the pain is gone from both shoulders and going back to my Euro paddle seems hopeless - it feels mushy and less stable in the water -;)

I too got the Epic mid-wing after some comparisons. The position of the elbows matters for the shoulder pain. But even more so the proper torso rotation. Many people rotate their shoulders and upper body but do not start that with their legs. I did this too initially. This is where an adjustable seat matters - once I started rotating well, I had to minimize my hip support to almost flat to allow for more movement of the legs and lower body. Now I almost get no twist in the torso - it all comes from the legs. I think this is the key to the shoulder muscle pain going away, as without good rotation you will strain the shoulder more than necessary. And if you do the rotation without involving the lower body, then you will strain your back musles or other shoulder musles (as I was feeling it before much more so than now).

Also, as the other poster aluded to, don't fight the paddle. Specifically, if you just plunk it down with a loose front hand grip and let it bite the water and take its own direction (as opposed to holding it tight) it will help a lot. Someone posted a link to a 5 second video recently of some german paddler - see if you can look it up. There he is using his front arms in somewhat whip-lash manner from an up-positioned elbow on the forward motion to a hanging-low elbow at the moment of contact with the water, with a relaxed grip. I tried my poor imitation of something like that and I was surprised that it works so well - since I'm not "carrying" the paddle but letting it punch in the water and rely on the paddle's lift from there on rather than hold it up myself, that seems to help with the shoulder pain. Is this the right way to do it? Don't know but it is working for now....

Again, take the above with a grain of salt, as I'm new to wings. But given the comfort level I'm getting from mine lately, I think I'm on the right track for using it properly. Of course, with lots of room for improvement -;)

my impatience
is getting the better of me. my goal is 10 miles at 6.3mph by the end of the season, but with two kids under 3 getting water time is tough. i really need slow down and improve my technique and the rest should follow. i paddle a nelo c-trek.

epic mid n/t

i’m the opposite
i have better technique with my week arm; my catch is quite and i get much less fatigue. i must be over muscling with my right, but evan when i slow down my paddle entry is loud. there are a lot of flat water racers where i am, so hopefully i can find someone to give me a proper lesson.

Nice boat
Sounds like you’re a young guy with 3 year old kids. Concentrate on technique, build up your stamina, worry about speed later. It’ll come!

What paddle are you using and what’s the length. If your paddle is too long, your technique and speed will suffer. The Nelo C-trek is a pretty narrow boat so I would guess you need between 210 to 215 cm. I’m 6’ 180 lbs and am using my wing at 215 cm if that helps.


the c-trek isn’t that thin at 22 3/4", wish it was an inch thinner. the stability is insane. they could have sacrificed an inch. i have an epic mid and set it at 214 but it felt long. i wanted to readjust to 213 but i over tightened it and needed the tool which i left in the bag. what blade degree offset do you use? i had it set at 30, but i couldn’t really tell much of a difference. didn’t care for 60 degrees but anything under seemed about the same. p.s. don’t feel that young at 33. (i’m sure i will laugh at that statement in the future.)

Most of us
Are on the far side of 33. I’m 56 and Jackl is retired and both he and his wife race…and win too. Jack is my idol. lol

When I read the specs on the Nelo it was in centimeters and I just did a quick conversion in my head and came up with 20.5".

My Artisan Millenium is 18’3" X 21.5", and my ONNO at 215cm feels good. But I’d like to try something a bit shorter.


Hybrid GP

– Last Updated: Jul-23-08 3:25 PM EST –

Hey, I saw pictures of your hybrid GP nice work done! I guess for the average paddlers that does not want to expend the time learning the wing stroke and achieving the physical conditioning required to paddle with a wing paddle to increase boat speed, it is an excellent compromise. Good job!

Still provides adequate butt kicking…

– Last Updated: Jul-23-08 4:49 PM EST –

... as it's meant to be used with full on wing stroke and hand spacing - so same muscles need to get used to it.

It will allow other strokes (can be used like EP/GP/Aleut), just not optimal when doing so as compromised/altered form wastes effort. Learning curve is a bit easier, but there is still definitely a learning curve.

It is a compromise of sorts, but more a blend of what I like is several paddle types. Not really going to appeal to the more leisurely paddlers, more for the fast touring types. Feels best to me when cruising pace is at least 5mph and above. Comfortable to use below that, but at lower speeds anything works.

what’s adequate butt kicking?
I’m getting plenty. I can see now where I have been making some really obvious and painful mistakes still trying to incorporate a gp style into it. I need to let that go as the descriptions above about shoulder pain and upper back pain are hitting really close to home. My spacing on the loom was way too wide and my rotation was more from as Greyak described it a flat footed low volume kayak shoulder and not a hip / lower core rotation. Most of my boats too low volume maybe? Or is that an excuse? But where I can at least pump the legs a bit it helps tremendously.

I will just keep working at it. I just wish there was someone around on a wing and ski that could give me basics first as I am really afraid of developing bad habits.


Wing Paddle Length
I’ve just received my Lettman warp 205. This is my first wing paddle…and I did as much research as possible in selecting paddle length. I also have a Werner Cyprus, which is a 210cm. Paddling the Rapier 18, the cockpit area and forward, during the stroke is sleek, very narrow. I guess what I’m looking for is confirmation that I selected the proper length for the wing.

I stand at Five foot six inches.

My cyprus is a 210 which I find comfortable.

The lettman warp(wing) is 205cm and I’m adjusting

Any comments>?