Kayaking Technique Forum

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paddle length ?


I noticed a thread on the kayak building forum on this subject but just managed to miss it. So I copied and pasted most of it for offline "browsing", and having edited it a bit found that it in fact covered the comparison of "greenland" and "euro" merits, respectively.

A very good introduction to that issue by Nick Schade, Greg Stamer, and Rob Macks. But it was a bit thin on length.

So maybe the question could be taken up here?

Personally I have drifted towards shorter and shorter paddles (with "euro" blades) and am presently using three with lengths of 203, 196, and 188 cms respectively. The blades vary greatly between these. I am of average size and build, and paddle an average kayak.

On the other hand, the longest one I have used for years on long trips has been 240 cms. So it has been with understandable interest that I have read about this subject, for instance the article by Douglas Alderson on this site, or the one by Clark Bowlen (http://www.paddles.com/library/straight.html). The latter in fact was one factor sparking my interest in trying to find out how short one can actually go.

It has been interesting to notice how some folks think that 223, 220, 218 are short, and how some others think 200 is it. Clark Bowlen for instance had stopped here, the last I asked him (he also mentioned he was going greenland..).

My own experience has been that as one goes shorter the dynamics of the forward stroke change rather slowly, until at below 200 there is a big change for the better. At this point it took quite a while to get adjusted to and comfortable with the new body dynamics.

So it would be interesting to discuss the stroke dynamics if there are any around who have been experimenting at and below 200 cms. What has been, respectively (and why):

1) too long
2) needlessly long
3) short enough
4) needlessly short
5) too short

It would be even better if the greenland - euro controversy could be kept on the back burner; this is interesting for both categories, but not as a "which is better" issue.

Comparing the two styles did however indicate (to me) that maybe it was a bit silly to use those large power blades on a paddle with the same overall length found to be enough for a paddle with 9 cm blades. So I would expect to find that the mean of the distribution for each would be different. But is it?

Or has the old paradigm of "drape your fingers over the tip" been an iron one...?

happy new year,