Wing Paddles, etc.

OK - looks like I might make a jump into the K-1 thing here soon (after years in OC-1 and C-1). I’m thinking my first kayak is going to be a used Arctic Hawk. So, when I pick up the boat, I’ll be needing one of those funny paddles with blades on both sides. I have the chance to pick up a used Wing in good shape. The thing is, the local outfitter fellow told me that you can’t brace with a Wing paddle. Is that true? If so, what the heck do you do when you need to brace? Also, is the technique used with a Wing different than a conventional (proper) forward stroke?

A little background info - in canoes, I typically use ZRE bent shafts, all carbon. I like to go fast, but stick to standard class boats (think Wenonah Advantage on steroids). The Arctic Hawk may not be the quickest boat out there, but it seemed reasonable fast this morning, and should be right at home off shore during the one or two trips to the beach we make each year. I’d like to find the kayak paddle equivalent of the ZRE canoe paddles. Is the Wing the way to go, or should I get a bent shaft carbon Werner, or something else?

Thanks for the insight!

complete nonsense
you can brace just fine with a wing. how the heck does that dealer think people paddle surfskis in the ocean? the wing is a little more taxing on your joints and requires correct technique and a commmittment to a certain level of effort in order to really see the benefits. one of the nice things about them is that they force correct technique- you pretty much have to use your abs and torso muscle to paddle the wing. they will tend to go where they are supposed to if you just let them take their own path in the water. another nice thing is that the stroke has an inherent amount of brace built into it, meaning that you really brace with a wing by paddling forward faster, in some respects. they are just fine for a low brace, a high brace is a challenge. no duffek strokes. rolling is a breeze- i do a c to c and it feels like you are reaching up and grabbing onto the dock.

let’s put it this way- i have never met anyone who learned to use a wing, put in a little time to use it correctly, and went back to a traditional paddle.


Winging it…
If you’re of the competitive nature and like to get the most ooomph out of your paddling then the wing style paddle is probably good. Keep in mind that this maximizes a forward, very high angle stroke with lot’s of torso rotation tracing a path in the water next to the cockpit as if you drew a tangent from the curve of the bow deck to about hip point. The drawbacks are going to be any other strokes that require a uniform face to work off of. A brace can work (heck you can brace with your hands) but it’s not the healtiest for the paddle. Bow rudders become a good initiation for a roll. :wink: I wouldn’t recommend play sessions in surf zones and draws & sculling becomes an interesting experiment. I like paddling distance, fast, but I know that it’s not all I do. Getting a second paddle that’ll allow you to work other strokes more effectively will probably be a good idea, but for very efficient distance cruising you’ll notice a difference if you have good form.

See you on the water,


Very similar
if you use the wing correctly it will be very similar to your C-1. The paddle will drift out to the side you should find it a great combiantion with your boat go for it. Make sure the correct length


Have used both,
I have a Werner bent shaft and a wing, Werner sees no action these days. Once you go thru the learning curve of the wing you’ll never use a traditional. I concur with what “afolpe” said on his post to this thread.


OK - thanks for the input. I’ll see if I can borrow one and try it out tomorrow morning.

Now, I feel dumb asking (I know how to size canoe paddles at least), but how long? I’m 6’ tall, usually buy jeans that are 33" in the inseam. How do I know what size to get?

Also, one of you mentioned a high angle on the paddle stroke. Does that mean the shaft ought to be fairly angled relative to the horizontal plane of the water? If I’m on the right track, give me a hint as to how much of an angle - 45 degrees? More, less?

Thanks folks!

shorter is usually better. you would probably do just fine with a 215 or so. the stroke should enter right next to the boat at your feet at the catch, with the opposite hand eye level or slightly higher. push with a somewhat bent arm. rotate, drive with your onside leg and let the paddle do what it wants.

btw- the coach at lanier canoe and kayak will give you a wing lesson for about $18/ hour. kris lepianka. i learned a lot.


wing paddles
For more information about winged paddles and how to use them go to the Epic Boats/Paddles site.

Be advised, I saw several ($400) winged paddles this winter in Florida that had “hit one to many oyster ridges” and were delaminating at the tip. They are more fragile than normal paddles.

Theoretical question
Is it a good idea for a K-1 newbie to be learning how to deal with a second blade AND the foibles of a wing at the same time? Maybe learning to paddle feathered as well?

Just a question from an old C-1 / OC-1 paddler who transitioned to a touring kayak.


not true
i have beaten the heck out of my epic mid wing and it has lots of scratches but no dings or delamination. actually it might be the best made paddle i’ve ever seen.


Yes, I second this.
My (Length Lock) full carbon Epic Wing has been used and abused, and it only has a couples of scratches.



Textbook high brace
may not work (I’ll defer to better paddlers on that), but a quick slap with the power face works just fine.

Brent Reitz condensed version

His video is good, too.

Why not?
Around here, outrigger canoe paddlers go straight to wings if they decide to give surfskis a try. Technique may be a little trickier, but the gain in stability probably helps with a tippy boat more than the technique hurts.

the wing stroke will help lock him in and make it less tippy than the stroke neccesary for a traditional paddle.


Borrowed one
OK - thanks for all the info! I picked up a length lock Epic Wing to borrow during lunch today. I’ll give it a shot tomorrow morning (or Wednesday if I don’t make it out tomorrow). I appreciate the “word of caution” as well. I think I’ll be alright with it. I’ve had a couple of whitewater kayaks in the past & at least used to have a fairly solid roll & a basic understanding of what to do (and not to do) in a kayak. And, if I do go swimming, I’ll have a buddy with me (wouldn’t be the first time for that either). I’ll dress well, just in case.

Length and feather
Personal recommendation:

Start out around 215 cm - and 75 degree feather.

These are very common “average” settings (averages being taken mostly from ski paddlers - who often may go even shorter. Kayakers sometimes go a little longer depending on beam and may back the feather off a bit too based on previous habits). The feather may seem extreme - but with the twist of the blade is similar to a 60-70 degree euro paddle feather. 75 puts the backside of the blade in a good place for a low brace for me at the transiston of the stroke between release and nextr catch (no blade in water - so no support!). Forward stroke itself handles most brace needs the rest of the time.

Adjust from there, but get used to it a bit before making changes.

One bonus - coming from single blade you should have no bad habits to unlearn.

You can brace and
roll fine with a wing. What you can’t do is scull, which is a key Greenland technique. Sculling, you can lie sideways on the surface of even very rough water, safe and sound. Learning to scull is the quickest way to learn to roll, so if you don’t know how to roll, having only a wing paddle might slow that learning down a bit. (You also can’t do forward moving rolls, like the Greenland Reverse Roll, but that’s getting pretty esoteric.)

My experience is that wings are about 6% faster than other paddles, but some racers say only 2%, so don’t assume that you have to have a wing to get any sort of speed.

No need to be embarrassed by the Arctic Hawk’s speed–it’s certainly in the top 10% of all sea kayaks.

You might want to grab that wing, but also spend some time trying other paddle types, including the Greenland paddle. I mix Greenland and wing without difficulty.

Happy paddling! I remember my Arctic Hawk days very fondly!


Tried the wing today
OK - just got off the water after doing a little more than five miles with the wing. The good news is I stayed right side up in spite of “trying” to pull myself in a few times with that paddle. I did the first half of this distance with the paddle at about 220 cm and 60 deg. feather or so. Everthing seemed good, but I was making a lot of noise, especially when the blades entered the water. (This was bugging the heck out of me as my canoe strokes are more or less totally silent.) So, at our turn-around point, I decreased the feather to around 30 degrees or so, and had a much quiter return trip. The paddle seemed to perform best with the shaft angled somewhere around 40 degrees or so off horizontal, and I quickly discerned that more torso rotation is something I need to work on.

All in all, I liked the Wing a lot, especially for cruising on the river. I do not think I’d trust myself off shore with it (at least not yet, I’ve got lots of inland boating experience, and relatively little in the surf). If I can get a good enough deal on it I’ll probably pick it up and add a more traditional paddle to the quiver at a later date as well. Thanks for all the advice and input here.

Arctic Hawk, a K1???
Am I wrong or what?

To me, the Arctic Hawk designed by Mark Rogers is a touring boat not a K1 or racing one.