Wrong paddle- effect on efficiency

Although this may be hard to quantify, I’d appreciate your thoughts:

Started paddling in 2004 with a 29" rec tandem and like a wise guy, after hearing the brand mentioned on this site, bought a fiberglass, 230 cm. 30 oz. Werner- low angle (didn’t know the difference at the time) paddle.

2005- I’m very much a high angle paddler with a 25" boat (may go narrower in 2006). The Werner suitability questionnaire on their website reveals that I need a 215 cm. high angle paddle.

How much efficiency and speed is lost using the wrong paddle for your style?

Wrong tools suck

– Last Updated: Jan-08-06 9:15 PM EST –

Any task can be made easy by using the right tool. An easy task can become very difficult by using the wrong tool. You are used to the 230cm paddle, so you are probably not aware of the things you are doing to compensate for it, like holding it higher than you should. The longer paddle is also causing you to start the forward stroke with the blade at a lower angle which is lowering your efficiency (as you are pushing down on the water at the beginning of the stroke.)

I used a 215 for a couple of years and tried a 228 and I could not use it, felt very awkward. I now have a sweet 210 which is perfect for my high angle style.

If you have tools and skill, you may be able to cut 15cm off the shaft and drill a new hole for the ferrule lock.

May not do any good to cut down
the shaft because a high angle blade looks much different than a low angle one which appears longer with less width; at least on the Werner site. I think I would prefer a new one like the Corryvrecken or Shuna or one of the Onno or Epic paddles.

With all things being relative…
… I think a narrower hull would mmake more difference - and allow a lot higher angle stroke if that’s what feels better to you.

My latest is 18 7/8" beam. About 4" narrower than my shoulders. It should let me get my GP past vertical and to paddle under the hull!


– Last Updated: Jan-09-06 5:34 AM EST –

blade width/size has nothing to do with angle stroke. More a matter of personal preference.

I have cut down 220 cm carbon touring paddle down to 210 cm with no effect except that I like it better. With my wife using it, it forced her to use a higher angle paddle stroke.


A Great Deal
I am far from an expert paddler. However I do paddle as much as I can and average about twice a week year round. I started with a very good paddle made by Lightning, their light glass shaft and carbon blades. I have their standard tour paddle. I have a very fast kevlar boat but always seemed to have to really paddle to keep up with the group.

I recently purchased a full tour paddle from Patrick at Onno Paddles. The differance in my paddling is significant. My Onno paddle is a bit shorter and the blades are very much differant. The weight of both paddles is in the low range.

I now know that I paddle faster and easier as I seem to keep up with the pack or paddle faster than the pack with no extra effort. I have much more boat control with the new paddle. I always had a problem cutting in turns without the use of my rudder, now that has even turned around. My comfortable cadence level has risen likely as a result of the shorter paddle. I work at maintaining a high angle and this has also improved with the paddle. A last known and currious improvement using the Onno paddle is that it slings a great deal less water onto me or the skirt.

Happy Paddling,


get a length lock WING… Wings work great if you are a natural High angle paddlers.

The answer is
an adjustable length paddle from Onno epic etc.

A 215 in a 29 inch rec boat is a bit short for most folks.

Swedge- I am a natural high angle

– Last Updated: Jan-09-06 8:32 AM EST –

paddler because that is what I have been doing since I started. Isn't a wing paddle for a more advanced paddler?

Peter- 215 cm. would have been short with the rec boat. I'm down to 25" and will likely be at 22" this year and I'm 5'9" so the 215 cm. would appear correct?

Sing- So why do the blades on the Werners look so different between low and high angles?


Before I forget- thanks for all your comments.

The neat thing about wings is that you will know when you are using them wrong. The main thing is to let the wing chose its path through the water don’t fight it… But really I dont think its any harder to use then a Euro, however some strokes are harder such as the Draw, but really for going from point to point wings work great. next thing you will need an Efficient Boat to go with the wing like a QCC-700 L

Blade differences
Maybe this image from Werner’s site will help:


Surface area is distributed differently to optimize performance toward either end of the spectrum. Not really a black/white issue. You can use a high angle blade low, and a low angle blade high - but they’re even better used as designed.

RE: Wing. Lots of paddlers on this planet start with wings. Not “advanced”, just different. Less to unlearn as a beginner.

will allow the blade tip line to go in near horizontal to the waterline to maximize catch. So, yes, (as Greyak pointed out), the angle of that line can be optimized for low/high angle.

Do I believe most anglers will feel that difference in tip angle significantly? Personally, I don’t think so (at least speaking as for myself with 5 different asymetrical ww paddles and 3 different touring paddles.)

I think the concept of high angle strokes have become more vogue (and inplies “advance”). So, I think Werner is ahead of the “marketing” game.


Thanks Swedge- I may look at the
QCC 600.

Greyak- I saw that diagram on the Werner site. I think my angle is more vertical (higher).

Sing- The marketing comment was interesting.

I’ll also take a look at the wing paddle before I purchase.

Consider the 700
A tad more stable (both VERY stable for 21" already) and 700’s rear deck is flatter and interior of cockpit is a bit different shape.

Don’t let the extra lenght put you off. Once you find it’s sweet spots it’s pretty manuverable for that much waterline length.

Even if you’re on the small side of what’s recommended there are several smaller folks who love theirs (like JackL, who’s wife has a 600 and has paddled both and can give you decent comparison).


Bruce meets Nigel on Paddle Types
Indeed, Mr. Foster shows the paddle types on DVD, and the low angle Camano style Werner will flutter when used in a high angle fashion–as you allude to in your middle post above, bruce. Since viewing the DVD, I have tried the high angle with the Werner bent carbon Camano, and indeed – more flutter than a pigeon on a veteran’s statue. Thus, I now have a Shuna for high angle and speed, and Cmanao for low angle, for distance and touring. Might stock both on same paddle trip with one as primary, one as spare. But as you mention, blade style does make a difference (and splurging on a Corryven (spelling) would be very cool since you are likely to use it for ten years, and Werners rule. Low angle best in wintertime, I see, for the drip drip drip can be cold cold cold.

I use a 208cm Windswift
even in the 27" wide double. Works great high angle or low angle.

Correct Cooldoctor
The Nigel Foster DVDs first clued me that I may be using the wrong paddle. The Werner website seemed to confirm this. I tried a low angle stroke on Sunday because the water was cold and had a veneer of ice in places; and even with the skirt, I tried to avoid dripping. The stroke angle kept getting progressively higher because that is where I’m more comfortable.

Although I’m grateful for everyone’s paddle recommendations, my initial post was how much speed and efficiency is lost- best guess- 5%, 10%, impossible to estimate, none, depends on paddler’s experience, etc.- that sort of thing.

I Had A Kauai From Werner
They said it was designed for a high angle. It felt just as efficient at a low angle. I think there’s some ‘marketing’ going on here. Marketing. A much nicer word than bullshitting.

Morning Rex.
I see a lot of that on these forums.

You know the old saying: “If you can’ dazzle them with brillance, baffle them with bullshit!”



Hey, I Never Said "BS!"
I find fluttering happens usually when trying power up too fast. Also, when cant of blade (and I not referring to just GP) is somewhat off. Better to go at a moderate (high angle, low angle, or whatever preferred angle) pace and find that sweet smooth catch and pull. Keep going and doing it until that paddle motion is ingrained than begin to pick up the pace from there.

I use mostly high angle strokes (thus importance to me of overall paddle length) but find I have to adapt a bit with each different paddle blade to find the smooth motion.

But, heck, nothing wrong in getting another paddle. :slight_smile: