× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

Paddle length, is there a formula?

6 years 8 months ago - 6 years 8 months ago #9626 by Moll
Hi guys, firstly I would like to thank everyone for their feedback here. It has been interesting but for the most part useful.

Herewith my experience, we paddle on flatwater in a double XT. Both relative beginers.
My paddle is adjustable between 222 and 212 so cannot go as short as some are using. Over the past few weeks we have both made our paddles progressively shorter till I settled on 213 as a comfortable length. I found with the shorter length it exposed my poor technique and found I wasnt submerging the blade fully because my stroke was too flat and with the shorter blade I would every now and again hit my knees. The net result is we have both improved our paddle stroke and as a result have improved our 10Km time trial average speed from 8.9Kph to 10.4kph.

We also found in a sprint we could only get to around 13.8Kph and now can comfortably get to 15kph. We found the hull humms from around 14.5kph.

Interestingly enough although our cadence increased initially we have viewed video clips and our speed has increased more than cadence due to a more efficient stroke.

Before comparisons start I am 6'2 and 125kg (not all muscle) and my partner is around 90kg. so we are a very heavy crew and no doubt if I can get 20kg off there would be a massive gain but that would be a thread all on its own (being insulin immune sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Current Quiver:
- Think Evo
- XT Double
- Popes Big Foot Assegai K1
- Wilderness systems Tarpon 160

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6 years 7 months ago #9640 by Rightarmbad
Seeing as this subject is not yet dead, here is some more to think about.

With a longer paddle, there is a significant downward motion of the paddle blade during the first half of the stroke.

Now from one perspective, this is a good thing, as downward motion is also perpendicular to your forward motion so therefore quite capable of providing very efficient forward propulsion using the lift created by flow along the lengthways of the blade.

So the total lift is not from sideways movement, but of both sideways and vertical movement.

You can see this with people who use a lot of vertical flow in that the paddle does not initially move out much, and that most of the catch and early stroke is vertically dominated and the paddle stays quite close to the boat before moving outwards a little later on.

So far so good, the bad happens later on as the paddle now has to be lifted through a lot of water at the end of the stroke.

From what I have seen, it appears as though this very vertical movement type of stroke prefers a blade with more twist in it to help with the release of the water at the back, whereas a more sideways, shorter paddle paddler, prefers a less twisted blade as it serves no function in a more purely sideways stroke.

Now because the longer paddle is generally submerged deeper in more solid water as well as developing lift from circulation along the length of the blade, a smaller blade can be used.

So a generalization I would make, would be that a long paddle will normally be a smaller blade that has more twist and a shorter paddle would lean more towards a larger blade with less twist.

So makes trying a shorter paddle length with your current favourite long paddle a little bit of a problem as it may simply work better at a longer length due to it's size and twist.

So again, always make use of the offer to try others paddles as it is the only way to find the right one for you apart from spending a fortune.

Does this gel with anybody else's findings?

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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6 years 7 months ago #9643 by Rightarmbad
It may very well be that the reason that K1 paddlers seem to prefer longer paddles is that their boats are far more sensitive to twisting due to paddle forces and that by using a longer paddle with more vertical movement it reduces this sideways torque on the hull by keeping the paddle closer to the centreline longer and therefore has a lower hull drag as the boat stays straighter.

With a full length surfski, this may not be as critical as there is very little sideways movement of the hull with the paddle stroke and we are free to try anything we like such as shorter paddles with more sideways motion.

Back to the number plates now......

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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6 years 7 months ago #9645 by Dicko
I knew it :)

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6 years 1 month ago #12691 by Dooley
I don't think there is any "right" length for all paddlers in all conditions.

I'm 6'2" and I usually use 212cm.

I often go longer on the flat or in tamer ocean conditions; usually use 212 on the ocean; but will go shorter still in really rough conditions/downwinds/bigger surf getting out, etc.

But I suspect it all depends on the paddler, their arm length, their blade type, skill set, whether they are racing or going for stability in the rough etc.

I was once told by a very accomplished ocean ski paddler to experiment with different lengths in different conditions and if it works for you do more of the same! Been doing this ever since. Still not sure I have found the perfect answer though.

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6 years 1 month ago #12693 by robin.mousley
Not sure if this has been said but... Oscar Chalupsky has talked about the length of the paddle being like your gears on a car or bike. In the last Molokai (his 12th victory), he changed paddle length twice DURING the race. Once to "change down" to power past Dean Gardiner and then again to paddle into the wind.

I also know that Dawid Mocke trains with one length, then reduces the length by 2cm or so for the race.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dooley

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6 years 1 month ago #12694 by hudE
After reading all the above threads i,m totally confused. Surely the ideal length and blade size is the result of a number of factors including: paddler height, strenght and shoulder width, ski width and seat height relative to water level as well as paddler weight which will obviously affect the relative seat height, also water state, fresh or salt, flat of 3metre downwind swell.surely a 50mm change in length only equates to 25mm either side which in a rough sea will be unnoticeable to 80% of paddlers.
I,m just giving up on the science and playing between 210 and 215cm on Fenn 4. It' s all I got so i'm just going paddling.

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6 years 1 month ago #12696 by FalllGuy
During a 25km inner bay flatwater fitness paddle, I find myself often doing exactly what Robin has described. I often adjust my paddle length on the fly, according to various conditions and situations I may come across...

Steady current behind me and moderate paced paddling downwind, paddle becomes longer; up to as long as 213...

Steady current behind and moderate wind in my face, I settle around 212...

Long areas of side chop or against a steady moderate current, wind in the face 210...

Crossing a 200 meter boating channel on a weekend where boating traffic has me feeling as if I am an old turtle making my way across a crowded highway...

209 and in my mind, attempting to spin fast enough to achieve lift off... ( New York City boaters are often drunkard crazy New York city drivers. )

I think that much of it depends on the type of paddling that you do, where you do it and the distances that you generally cover during your paddle...

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6 years 1 month ago #12709 by Rightarmbad
And to add some more spice to this debate, I now have my fresh from the Chinese factory, custom, 195 to 205cm paddle.

Yep, you read that right.
This is only 3 cm longer than my height on it's shortest length.

With a test session in a lake and three ocean paddles on this, I gotta say it's been illuminating.

It also flies in the face of any paddle calculations published.


Watch this space! Or whatever thread I decide to write this up in.

(Possibly RAB's punch up thread; so that the closed minded can call me names and swear at me for suggesting something that they don't want to accept.)

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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5 years 10 months ago #14468 by Daneel
Does anybody know at what angle tops sprinters set their paddles?

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5 years 10 months ago #14471 by Gazz

Rightarmbad wrote: And to add some more spice to this debate, I now have my fresh from the Chinese factory, custom, 195 to 205cm paddle.

Yep, you read that right.
This is only 3 cm longer than my height on it's shortest length.

With a test session in a lake and three ocean paddles on this, I gotta say it's been illuminating.

It also flies in the face of any paddle calculations published.


Watch this space! Or whatever thread I decide to write this up in.

(Possibly RAB's punch up thread; so that the closed minded can call me names and swear at me for suggesting something that they don't want to accept.)


What's the verdict?

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5 years 10 months ago #14483 by Watto
Think he's left Dodge myself.

Paddle upwind into a choppy stiff breeze with your paddle set longer than you would normally use by quite a bit (whatever). If you have a GPS on board check your speeds as you chug. Stop after maybe 500 metres and reduce gradually maybe 2cm each time until you're chopping at the water and can barely get your paddle in.

Check your speeds when you get home but ask yourself as you're paddling what feels best. Go downwind and repeat.

Forget length to be honest (how does it go - my wife told me I needed a penis enlargement so I did; her name's Katy and she's 21) - torso length more important than body height, but then there's how high your boat sits, arm length, strength etc etc. Like many posts here and elsewhere I change my paddle length depending on conditions. Windy, rough then shorter for higher cadence. Swelly but not short chop maybe a bit longer; long long flat water paddle bit longer again. Short sprinty then longest that I can sustain.

Do I play round with my paddle much, nup not really. Above sounds a bit wankerish but really it just depends on conditions. I prefer cadence over big power so paddle 206-208 mostly. That's my wrist cocked just over top of paddle.

Suck it and see.

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5 years 10 months ago #14484 by drjay9051

Watto wrote: Think he's left Dodge myself.


Forget length to be honest (how does it go - my wife told me I needed a penis enlargement so I did; her name's Katy and she's 21) -

Now that is funny !!

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5 years 10 months ago #14487 by Kayaker Greg
I'm a little different than Watto, I've recently been using my small mid at 207cm in flat conditions to get my rating up, (this paddle is no slower than using my mid in the flat from my numbers) but in rougher tricky water I found that my mid used at 208cm was much more stable and the paddle in the water for longer gave me more stability, at 207cm it was just too short and I suffered with control.
Now 1cm is only 5mm per each side, funny how so little difference in length can feel so different. So I go slightly longer when conditions are trickier.
When it is flat, its so much easier to get correct stroke and rotation and boat lean, when it gets rougher the technique tends to come down a little from optimal and the boat stays more upright. In my experience anyway.

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5 years 10 months ago - 5 years 10 months ago #14489 by superted

Watto wrote: my wife told me I needed a penis enlargement so I did; her name's Katy and she's 21)


Lol glad u said that Watto. If RAB had said it the PC brigade would be all over this thread now ;-)

Ive shortened my paddle length from 211-212 to 208. Ive found with bigger blades (BV4) it lessons the strain/pain on my elbow biceps tendon area. Downwind I like 212cm as you can tick over with bigger leverage with the big blade.

KayakerGreg i agree with you that longer feels more stable, but for me thats downwind.

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5 years 10 months ago #14490 by sAsLEX
There was multiple swell directions last night, and I found holding the paddle (kept length the same) further out or in made a huge difference.

I have tape on the outside of where I should be holding the paddle with my arms at 90 degrees with the paddle over my head, but found bringing them in a little more helped the stability considerably.

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5 years 5 months ago #16055 by RiverBoater
I recreational paddle with an ONNO F.A.S.T paddle, at 202cm-212cm. I didn't worry about this complicated stuff - I bought an aluminum inexpensive paddle with blades around the frontal area that I thought I would want, then cut a centimeter off the slide-over side each week, and drilled a new button hole. It was marvelous how the ease and speed of trips improved as I got shorter from the 220Cm that the paddle started at. I took it all the way down to 197Cm but after 202 it got worse, so I ordered the Carbon non-wing F.A.S.T from ONNO (Patrick, in Hawaii) as an adjustable from 202-212, just in case I'd passed a better length and just thought I needed the 202. I have since found that the 202 is perfect for fast fitness paddling, up to about 70% effort, but that for races I get a bit more "bite" (top speed) from the paddle being set to 205, but that's only for 100% effort for the whole distance, otherwise shorter is better for me.

Just got a wing as a bonus with a 23' FinDeisen Surf Ski, and it's about a 209, but it is one piece, with a 90feather. I did a mile plus on the ski without going swimming, but in ONE mile got a blister from the rolling of the paddle due to the feather. Currently trying to find an upgrade package the will give me a button and a slide so I can cut about 5Cm out and then let it go square unfeathered, and be able to extend for optimization.
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5 years 5 months ago #16099 by Choco32
I am a bit off topic, although could someone please advise on what type of surf ski is suited to an intermediate/a bit better paddler who is 6' 7inches (200cm). I will be using it the ocean and eventually the anaconda adventure race in WA. I just struggle with leg length.
I am keen to buy a new or near new and budget is around $3000.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Andy

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5 years 5 months ago #16100 by owenfromwales
Off the top of my head, I think the new Epic V10 claims to cater for paddlers up to 6'8", and you can order a bigger footplate to go with it if you have a shoe size to match your height! I`m sure some of the other manufacturers out there must have boats for tall blokes too.

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy
The following user(s) said Thank You: Choco32

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5 years 5 months ago #16101 by owenfromwales

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy
The following user(s) said Thank You: Choco32

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