Blade shape differences and expectations

10 months 3 weeks ago #35411 by SpaceSputnik
All paddles I have used to date had Epic shape blades. One actual Epic and a decent knock off that I actually prefer over the other paddle.
Now, I am thinking if I should start experimenting with different paddles. Since I can't really borrow a paddle from anyone I need to do some wild guessing.

Whats sort of difference am I looking at switching away from vanilla Epic shape. Is that mostly a comfort issue, or can expect to get a measurable speed improvement from a well selected non-epic. My main priority is a flat water speed.

At the moment I am at a small mid wing, that is actually smaller than epic small. It's at 720 cm2 whereas Epic small is 735. I used to have a club 750 but found that it gives me no advantage whatsoever. It was actually more taxing than the 720 with no speed improvement. I also felt sloppier with it.

Anyways. Did switching paddle blades made a sizeable difference for you?

Been eyeing a Jantex Gamma knock off with a 3m shaft...but it would be a shot in the dark in many ways. This one comes in really big size increments. Goes from 700 to 750cm2. In an Epic mid-wing I'd say 750 is too much and 700 is not enough. If I decide to pursue this, I'd be inclined to give the larger one a shot.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35413 by tve
I'm no expert at paddles and am curious what others will say...
What I did notice is that almost no-one likes a different paddle shape at first. It really takes some time to get used to the different behavior and change the stroke accordingly. The way I like to think about the paddle shapes is whether they enhance and help the parts of the stroke that I have difficulties with, or whether they help my mental image of my stroke. E.g., I have a Gara Odin I love because I find that it likes to move sideways and jump out of the water early, which helps me have an earlier exit than when I use a more parallel blade.
Given the price of a good paddle I would wait for a trip where you can try some for a half hour at least...

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35414 by SpaceSputnik
Good point on mental imagery.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35415 by Wingnut
I want to try a new paddle as well, will wait until next year.  I've been told to check out the Braca XI.   I really like the  mental imagery idea and will keep that in mind when I try something different.  My current paddle is an Epic sm-mid full carbon.  I like it but trying something new seems like a good idea.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35416 by wesley
Why would you not try a brand name like Braca, Jantex,etc.  before a knock off. these companies support in varying degrees  the paddling world, have research and design departments, have customer service departments, or distributors that support the individual paddler, clubs,  and the paddling sports in general. I realize cost is a deciding factor in most decisions however for some, they many want to consider the factors as I mentioned. 

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.

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10 months 3 weeks ago - 10 months 3 weeks ago #35417 by MCImes
 I agree with TVE, finding a paddle that helps you focus on a problem area of the stroke is very useful, but you kind of only know that if you use it for a while like he says. I happen to love my think powerwing clone because it has a ton of lateral stability in rough water (my favorite). It has so much lateral grab (when needed) you can basically spear the water and push off the shaft for a brace. I think this is because it has some twist in the blade vs the Epic design which is more or less straight. 

Also as tve says, I did not like this paddle at first. The twist took getting used to, but after I did I now dislike the feel of the epic in rough water and they're about equal on the flat. 

As for 700 vs 750cm, what's your average distance? If you're paddling close to or over 10k on average, I'd go with the 700 personally. I seem to remember reading a study that shows most 'regular' people have an energy  output limit which means they see no benefit to larger blades after a relatively short distance. I'll see if I can find the link. (pros, olympians, and other extremely fit athletes do benefit though)

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35421 by agooding2
I really like my Braca XI 705 I've been using the last two years, very positive catch and I can turn it over quickly.  For the 32 mile Chattajack race I got a Braca IV 670 soft which is not as much fun as the XI 705, but much easier on my shoulders and forearms so after 6 hours of paddling my legs were more sore than my arms.  

For next year's sprint nationals I am looking at adding a Braca VII in either 710 or 720 with a stiffer shaft. Chris Chappel at fastpaddler.com was incredibly helpful at getting me the right size and design.  I think a paddle in many ways is as important or more than the boat.  

While the price of the Chinese knock offs are tempting I'd rather get the right blade the first time.  I make up for it financially by buying my boats used.  Plus I don't feel I'm stealing someone's intellectual property.

-- Andrew

Nelo 550L, Think Fit, Nelo Viper 55

Braca XI 705 EL blade, 17K shaft
Braca XI 675 marathon blade, 19K shaft
Braca IV 670 soft blade, 19K shaft

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35422 by SpaceSputnik
700 vs 750..I am not too sure actually. I mainly said that because I feel that 700 would be too small. My 720 feels pretty good long distance already.
I agree that 750 may be taxing.

I don't know, all the boat/gear buying often seems like a random walk. I envy you guys living in active surfski regions where you can actually try stuff.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35423 by agooding2
All my purchases have been online, that's why taking to a knowledgeable  dealer is better than ordering blindly off eBay.

Nelo 550L, Think Fit, Nelo Viper 55

Braca XI 705 EL blade, 17K shaft
Braca XI 675 marathon blade, 19K shaft
Braca IV 670 soft blade, 19K shaft

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35431 by mrcharly
Everyone I know who has bought paddles without trying them has ended up with several paddles. That should tell you something.
I tried multiple paddles (about 8 in total) before ordering one.
The one I picked felt just right for me from the first stroke, just too big. That was a medium.
Jantex gamma rio blades 'pull big' compared to the area. They lock onto the water, something to do with the extreme spoon. I have a Medium Minus, 740 area. It feels plenty big. 

Ivan Lawler, multi-gold-medal winner, reckons that once you are up to speed, there is no advantage in having a bigger blade. 
The following user(s) said Thank You: SpaceSputnik

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35441 by Steve Hansen
I don't understand why paddle distributors and or manufacturers don't have demo programs ? Send a paddle or two out to an area that has several clubs and let them try the paddles for a month and then pass the paddles on to the next club. I suspect  the dealers would sell a lot more paddles that way. Like somebody said, who wants to lay out $450 for an unknown outcome.

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10 months 3 weeks ago - 10 months 3 weeks ago #35442 by agooding2
Chris Chappell at Fastpaddler.com told me if I didn't like the Braca paddles he sent he would take them back.  I know Mark McKenzie at Elite Ocean Sports also does demos on Jantex.  

This is another reason to go with a name brand vs a knockoff.

Nelo 550L, Think Fit, Nelo Viper 55

Braca XI 705 EL blade, 17K shaft
Braca XI 675 marathon blade, 19K shaft
Braca IV 670 soft blade, 19K shaft
The following user(s) said Thank You: Steve Hansen

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10 months 3 weeks ago - 10 months 3 weeks ago #35443 by SpaceSputnik
It's funny actually. The knock offs are more easily available here than the brand names. I can order Epic, Jantex and *I think* Braca clones from Amazon and they are here within a few weeks without any fuss and backed by Amazon. Exact size and length I want. Another funny thing is that the knock offs can be better in some respects than the brand names and come in a better size selection. My Z&J is 720cm2, which Epic doesn't carry and their aluminum lock mechanism is easier to operate. The difference is that I can adjust it with heavy gloves on while Epic required use of my teeth on occasion.
Dealer stocks can be patchy. I have been in a situation when I had to order an Epic from a non-local dealer and had it mailed.

Finally, I don't entirely understand the concept of trying here. Like mentioned before, a new paddle may require a period of adjustment. What is the point of buying something I am comfy with if it doesn't force me to change my habits for the better? Chances are I already own a paddle I am comfy with.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35448 by waverider

mrcharly wrote: Ivan Lawler, multi-gold-medal winner, reckons that once you are up to speed, there is no advantage in having a bigger blade. 


I agree with this,  as you tire more quickly and your technique stats to go to pot when you are trying to haul on a big blade when you are feeling weary.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35449 by waverider

SpaceSputnik wrote:
Finally, I don't entirely understand the concept of trying here. Like mentioned before, a new paddle may require a period of adjustment. What is the point of buying something I am comfy with if it doesn't force me to change my habits for the better? Chances are I already own a paddle I am comfy with.


Odds are you are going to buy one that is most like the one you are supposedly upgrading from as it feels most natural to you. But most limited period tryouts suffer from this.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35455 by mrcharly

Steve Hansen wrote: I don't understand why paddle distributors and or manufacturers don't have demo programs ? Send a paddle or two out to an area that has several clubs and let them try the paddles for a month and then pass the paddles on to the next club. I suspect  the dealers would sell a lot more paddles that way. Like somebody said, who wants to lay out $450 for an unknown outcome.

Do you know what happens when people buy something that they decide they don't really like?
They buy another, of a slightly different model. 
they aren't going to do without a paddle.

Sending round demo paddles will probably reduce sales. It might increase them for specific shops (I would feel more inclined to purchase from a dealer that let me try out a paddle), but overall, sales would reduce.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35456 by Steve Hansen
So...can one say that the two main characteristics of paddle design that effect performance are twist and blade shape ? The twist (blade angle offset) determines whether the paddle is stable ( more forgiving of placement) or rather unstable but pulls thru the water faster ? And blade shape (teardrop vs. parallel) determines whether there is a power sweet spot as opposed to a longer, more even power phase ? Is there anything else ? Length ?

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10 months 3 weeks ago - 10 months 3 weeks ago #35458 by agooding2
When I got my Braca XI 705 I immediately felt it was an improvement over the Legend or Max Paddle I got with my boat, smoother entry, locked in power phase and the smaller size meant I did not get tired as quick and could pull harder than with my midsize blade over an hour to two hour long paddle.

However when I got my Braca IV 670 soft it felt too flexible and small bladed at first.  I grew to appreciate it after some 5-6 hour paddles as my shoulders and forearms did not hurt afterwards and I could pull harder for longer with my whole body.  

So a limited tryout would have helped for the first blade, but not for the second blade.

--  Andrew

Nelo 550L, Think Fit, Nelo Viper 55

Braca XI 705 EL blade, 17K shaft
Braca XI 675 marathon blade, 19K shaft
Braca IV 670 soft blade, 19K shaft

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10 months 3 weeks ago #35501 by mrcharly

Steve Hansen wrote: So...can one say that the two main characteristics of paddle design that effect performance are twist and blade shape ? The twist (blade angle offset) determines whether the paddle is stable ( more forgiving of placement) or rather unstable but pulls thru the water faster ? And blade shape (teardrop vs. parallel) determines whether there is a power sweet spot as opposed to a longer, more even power phase ? Is there anything else ? Length ?

I think you are confusing two things here.

Offset and twist are not the same thing. Some blades have twist along their length. I've read descriptions saying that this 'depowers' the blade, making it a softer pull for the same blade area (the twist results in spilling from the blade side). The same commentators suggested that if people felt more comfortable with twist, they should just get a smaller blade.

Offset is the angle of the blade to the shaft. It can produce a paddle that is very easy to get a clean entry, smooth catch. When I tried one like this it felt like I could cruise all day with the paddle - but I had no confidence in making a brace. It was also clumsy when sprinting. Some people like this feeling for long distance racing.

A blade like the gamma rio has little offset, no twist and strong spoon shape. So, relative to the blade size, it feels 'locked in concrete' when you get the catch. 

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10 months 2 weeks ago #35505 by Steve Hansen
You're right. I was trying to describe twist but referred to it as off set. So what are examples of paddles with a lot of twist ? What are examples of paddles with lots of off set ? Do twist and off set usually go hand in hand in a paddle design ?  One can generalize that paddles with twist and off set are better suited to flat water where stability is not an issue ? Now I really want a demo day !

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