WW Paddle Length?

-- Last Updated: Nov-14-06 9:42 AM EST --

As mentioned before, my husband and I have picked up some used WW older style river runners so that we can practice moving water skills without the four hour drive to the ocean. I have a general question about paddle length. - plan to look around for one more paddle for me over the winter and it is getting confounding.

I am 5'4", and am starting out in an old Dagger Piedra (135 pounds). I plan on seriously looking at some newer planing hull boats as well over time. We aren't talking about anything more than class II for the foreseeable period, and taking whatever short boats we have to Maine in July along with the long boats to maybe mess around in some surf.

So far we have two paddles in hand for me - just ordered a hugely reduced 197 cm 4-part Werner (moderate size blade). We took it after finding out the 194 cm wasn't available figuring it'll function as a spare for WW or maybe a rock garden paddle alternative. The guy at that WW place said that 194 cm would be the perfect length for me.

My other paddle is a H2O Pro or some such series, the one with the green blade, intended to function for play boating as well as get someone with some competence down a river. According to the WW guy there it is also the "perfect" length for me at 188 cm.

I've had the H2O paddle out with the Piedra in moving water that would be rated at no more than Class I if that, and it did everything I needed it to do. (as did the boat) I can roll the boat with a small bit of floatation in one hand on the flat, so leverage is likely less important than for a lot of the newer WW boats.

So - what would people who have been in the game for a while suggest for a paddle length for me?

What Kent Ford says
"To size a kayak paddle, hold it over your head with arms at right angles to the shaft. Whitewater kayakers should have a fist width, four or five inches, between their hand and the blade."

I am 5’10" and use a bent shaft 194. Something closer to 190 would probably work for you but do the Kent Ford test to see. Also, if you paddle with a high shaft angle you need a shorter paddle then if you use a more moderate angle. I have noticed that people who also sea kayak tend to carry over their sea kayaking style to WW to some extent.

should work for you in ww and surf. In surf, I use 180 (could even go shorter) since it’s just sprinting. In ww, I use a 185 since I find the itty bitty extra length helpful in pulling me into an eddy that I may come in late on.



paddle length…
i would have seen you with a ~190…but depends on the width of your boat as well…i would not use a 188 in a creek boat (even with those spiffy kevlar reinforced knuckled gloves)…the 197-take it out with the long boat too!!!fun…different feel than what you are used to…i went one step further: hand paddles in a tempest…hee hee he…fun…easyrolling…

If a bent shaft…

– Last Updated: Nov-14-06 10:33 AM EST –

I am assuming that the Ford measurement is the width from hand to blade measured sideways (parallel to the straight part of the shaft), not down the angled length of the bent portion. Yes?

Thanks for the clarification re surf, that it doesn't change the length.

Will have to check this out tonight. I have somewhat wider shoulders than people usually guess, often end up with slightly off seeming numbers.
(Jim and I may end up exchanging our primary break-apart paddles for WW to start - he has a 194.)

Also A Matter Of What You Are/Get
used to.

I hate my 191. My 194 never get used except by someone else.

I like high cadence in both surf and ww. When I want to make a move, I want MOVE FAST.

In surf, I have had by paddle trapped up right against the face. Could have done much better with a shorter paddle. Also more radical moves can be made with the stern rudder not way back there but slightly behind hips. Better have good control or trip over yourself.

Seakayakers go through an adjustment period because they are used to much longer paddles. There is not same need to sprint as in ww and always in surf.



The Kent Ford method may not work
at extremes of height. In my case, at 6’ 5", the method would result in a longer paddle than the 202 to 206 I already use.

personal preference
there really is no magic formula. some like long, others short. i have friends that range from 188 to 200. in general, shorter for play and longer for river-running and creeking. i use a 193 for everything, and mainly creek. it’s short enough to work when i play, but long enough to get the power i need for big moves on the steeps. if you can, try out few different lengths and see what feels most comfortable.