Tall Paddlers: Anybody else finding shorter is better?

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 9 months ago #29425 by PeteCress
6' 5", 215#, long-limbed with a 36" inseam and 36" arms.

I started with a Braca VII set to whatever Epic's paddle length wizard recommended.

Kept shortening it and shortening it and each change felt better until I wound up with the shortest I could get it at 208 cm.

Recently dropped the big bucks on a Jantex Gamma Rio Medium Minus with about the same blade area (740) but held together with hot-melt glue so I can take it apart to trim the shaft - which I did, giving me a 198-208-adjustable paddle.

I currently have it set to 198 cm (199-200 when using extra seat pads) and it just seems to have gotten better and better.

To wit:
  • Better rotation
  • A more vertical stroke without losing balance
  • Less stress on a dodgy shoulder
  • Quarter-mile interval speeds about .1 or .2 mph faster with the same heart rate
In spite of my size, I would characterize myself as a relatively weak paddler.... i.e. Lower gears work better for me.

Am I the only one?

Before I get out the heat gun again... Might I be missing something?
Last edit: 4 years 9 months ago by PeteCress.

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4 years 9 months ago #29429 by AR_convert
When I first started in skis I too was using a 740 Gamma shape paddle. I'm 6'3in. Started at 210 and over a couple of years slowly slowly mm by mm moved out to 212.

I then took up K1 paddling and wqs p[addling a lot more often 4-5 days a week and am now able to go out to 212.5 in the ski for flat water

If I'm doing downwind (very occassionally) where I want to rate high and often, I'll drop down to 211.

Smaller paddlers than me go much longer and I am curious too about how this works. I took tend to think my long arms (more reach) probably have a similar effect to a longer paddle. I also found that holding the paddle about a handspan in from where the shaft meets the blade gives me enough leverage on my stroke (while I see others with hands out wide to the paddle ends)

In any case much like riding a 10 speed bike but being only able to choose one gear, you've got to find the gear that is not too hard to get going but that also allows you to cruise at a good speed without getting tired too quickly.

I've also just got a Jantex Gamma Rio Med Min and wow, its a sweet paddle.

Always looking for the next boat :)

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4 years 9 months ago #29440 by Dicko
I am 192cm and shorter in the body with longer arms and legs. I simply can't pull a paddle over 210. I tried for 6 months with my paddle at 211 and it felt alright but I am still trying to settle the pain in my elbows.

I find that a paddle at 208cm suits me from a speed and technique perspective.

I suspect that height is a very deceptive criteria. Body height when sitting is a more accurate guide.

I agree with AR that longer arms must increase the length of the lever arm of the paddle.

AR is much longer in the body than I am (he is also a significantly) faster paddler.
So I suspect he needs a longer paddle. Muscle bulk and strength must also play a part. Guys like Clint Robinson and Oscar have spent a lifetime developing the strength to pull a longer paddle. Unless you are prepared to put in the work a shorter paddle length makes up for deficiencies in ability.

I'm sure I read somewhere that Sean Rice uses a 208 paddle. I might be wrong.
If I am right it doesn't seem to affect him to badly.

It would be interesting to include a measurement from the shoulder to the end of the blade and see if this equation evens up height differentials.

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4 years 9 months ago #29441 by AR_convert
Thanks Dicko, I was thinking you would have some good insight.

I did go digging for some research on this, but the studies have all been on sprint and of course of lighter & much younger paddlers. Add to that they are only having to make the paddle work over 200-1000m.

You mention Sean Rice at 208, I read that Cory Hill was using 210.

I agree about strength being built up over time.

This time last year I had just done the Avon descent in a K2 and had spent a couple of months training in the back seat of a K2 with a guy who rates much higher than I. The outcome was when I went back to K1 ( and ski) after all that training in a K2 my strength had improved so much I went out to 214 in my ski and from 214 to 216 in my K1. Over the next few months I gradually lost that strength and ended up back where I am now (213.7 K1 and 212.5 ski)

As for "include a measurement from the shoulder to the end of the blade" I have seen some neat video software that measures angles and distances during the stroke phase. That would be the best way to study this but I guess only available to Institute Sport types.

Always looking for the next boat :)

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4 years 9 months ago #29443 by TaffyMick
I am 5'10" on the old scale and a hefty 115kg. Started off at 210 with 60 degree right hand offset/feather. Now:
Stellar SEI - 212
K1 - 214
Sladecraft Long Rec - 213-214 depending on conditions.

Still 60 degree right hand feather. Big difference with me compared to most marathon paddlers is that I am build like the proverbial brick shithouse from the solar plexus up and pull a lot of water with my Jantex Gamma Rio Medium Plus. Arnie...eat your heart out!

So... in my case, Longer is better.

Mick

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 9 months ago #29445 by Ole
Height: 1.92m = 6'3 (long legs!!)
paddle length: between 214cm and 212cm depending on conditions

I read a post some years ago on the forum about using shorter paddles and was experimenting with 208cm, 207cm etc but realised that for myself, blade size is more important (smaller blade but higher cadence on the ocean; a larger blade (Gara 4) on flat(er) water)...

Ozean OSS3 SL, OSS4 SL, OSS1

Previously: Fenn Elite Glide, DD3 Albatross (2x), Vajda Hawx 43, Think Uno Max, Think Evo II, Epic V8, Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 sports
Last edit: 4 years 9 months ago by Ole. Reason: spelling

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4 years 9 months ago #29462 by malvina
Hello,

Paddle length is a topic that I find very confusing. I am 180cm, 75 kilos and paddle a V10L with an Epic mid-wing paddle.

Epic´s wizard gives me a recommended paddle length of 212 cm, and that is what I have been using for years. I got further confirmation a couple of years ago when, during a one on one session, Sean Rice checked my paddle set up and told me that 212 seemed a good length for me and that I may even try with 213 / 214 cm if paddling on flat water.

But then most comments I read everywhere on internet forums seem to indicate that I should be using a much shorter paddle. On the most extreme end of the spectrum, some paddlers suggest that with 180 cm in height I should not be much above 205cm. I have tried shorter lengths but (may be because I am more used to it) I find myself more comfortable and "fluid" when I paddle at 212/213 cm. Also, I find difficult to ignore the fact that two of the most reputable surfski paddlers (Barton and Rice) seem to agree that around 212 should be a good set up for someone my size.

So I wanted to check with you if anyone knows of a thorough study on the subject. Is there any document (be it article, book or video) explaining the pros and cons and analyzing the physics and physiology behind the arguments?

Many thanks
Juan

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 9 months ago #29464 by PeteCress
Dunno about "real" paddlers, but I vary my effective gear depending on conditions:
  • lower gear for upwind, uphill, and when I'm tired;
  • higher gear for downwind, downhill, and when I'm fresh.

For me, that means shifting my grip in-and-out by a good 3" in normal use and out about 7" for the "Stump-Puller" gear that I use when starting from a dead stop - which has my hand down where the blade meets the shaft, touching the blade.

"Low Gear" has the outside of my hand 3" inboard of the top of the blade.

"High Gear" has the outside of my hand 6" inboard of the top of the blade.

Shaft length, then seems to relate more to the width of one's grip and consequent shoulder mechanics than to "Gear".

The guy I took lessons from in Hawaii wanted a ninety-degree angle at the elbows when the shaft is held overhead. .... But when I have the shaft sized to that spec, I find it bothers one of my shoulders and makes it harder to rotate fully and practice a vertical entry - and that seems to be the genesis of my preference for a shorter paddle.

Long paddle, short paddle.... the "Gears" I use for various conditions remain the same, all that changes is the mechanics of my shoulders when I rotate and practice a more vertical entry.

I also think there are psychological/marketing considerations at work.

In general, people need to be told what size is best for them.

Back in my surfing days (this is waaaaaay back) surfboard makers published these excruciatingly-detailed charts showing what the "Correct" length board was for surfers of different sizes..... right down to the inch.

Then came shortboards..... -)

But I have to wonder if maybe something similar is at work with paddles:
  • Somebody is asking me to drop half a grand on a paddle.
  • They know a lot.
  • I know nothing.
  • If they say "Well, we don't really know what the right size is for you and you will have to experiment", I will be prone to buying from somebody who tells me what the right size is.
Just a thought from somebody with no real knowledge....
Last edit: 4 years 9 months ago by PeteCress.
The following user(s) said Thank You: AR_convert

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