Who makes the largest carbon fiber paddle, and is it something I need?

1 month 2 weeks ago #38949 by kayakingguy
Was wondering who makes the largest surface-area carbon fiber paddle on the market?

I'm 6', around 210 lbs, with a very strong back/core from gymnastics. My pulling strength/power is very high (had an unofficial world record in weighted pullups at one point), but my overallskill is mediocre and I'm a beginner in surf skis.

I'm paddling a V8 but may move to faster skis in the future, and want a paddle that I'll never outgrow.  I do want to practice some sprint paddling on the off chance I get more into advanced skis. I also don't care about wind resistance.

SHOULD I get a big surface area paddle, and why or why not?

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38951 by tve
I'm interested in a related question, which is how can one tell whether one should upgrade to a larger paddle size?

The thing I would tell you is that you can increase the force exerted by the paddle by lengthening the shaft (and moving the hands in from the paddle accordingly). So if you start with a smaller paddle you can increase it's lever. Reducing the lever of a large paddle is more limited in my experience because once your hands reach the paddle the adjustment is over.

Another thing to consider are your shoulders. Some paddlers, me included, have a tendency to raise the shoulders, which can easily cause injury. I have to remind myself frequently about dropping the shoulders. Bigger paddles make the risk of injury worse. You may want to make sure you have your stroke down very well before looking at huge paddles ;-).

Just my 2c :-)

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38952 by mrcharly
Hmm. Lisa Carrington, who weighs 65kg but cranks out 30 pullups with an added 20kg weight for a warmup uses the same sized blades as myself (gamma medium minus). My blades are too big for surfski for me (they work for marathon K1).

Jantex make some big blades. Going straight into big blades is a mistake, IMO. Not even the strength monsters advocate using them. Ivan Lawler, multi-times world marathon champ plus sprint olympics medalists advocates staying with a smaller blade.

Using a big blade can fool you that you have a good catch and pull technique. To quote Ivan "swimmers can grip the water with a hand.". I thought my technique was ok; when I bought a very wobbly K1 it exposed my flaws and I had to put in a lot of hours improving technique. 

So I'd suggest using the Epic paddle wizard and going with the results on that. 

When to move to a bigger blade? That is a very good and not easy question. 
I think when you can do multiple intervals (say, a 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 pyramid x 3) and you are finding it easy on joints, no strains or tiredness in particular muscles. 

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1 month 2 weeks ago - 1 month 2 weeks ago #38953 by kayakingguy

I'm interested in a related question, which is how can one tell whether one should upgrade to a larger paddle size?

The thing I would tell you is that you can increase the force exerted by the paddle by lengthening the shaft (and moving 
 which can easily cause injury. I have to remind myself frequently about dropping the shoulders. Bigger paddles make the risk of injury worse. You may want to make sure you have your stroke down very well before looking at huge paddles ;-).

Just my 2c :-)


All good points! In truth, I seem to have a bulletproof stroke, in the sense that I paddle sometimes 4 days a week, and whatever the heck I am doing doesn't seem to hurt my shoulders or cause soreness, even over 20+ years in regular kayaks... Doesn't mean my stroke is technically great, but at least not prone to injury from it. (knock wood).

I wonder if gymnastics and weightlifting over the years built stabilizers in my shoulders... as I don't seem to injure my shoulders in other activities now... (I digress)... getting older I am more interested in minimizing injury/wear, for certain though.

In truth, I'm not seeing a down-side to a larger paddle. The mid-wing paddle someone gave me just slips through the water sometimes and I don't feel like it's transmitting my power to the water. I don't have the language to describe it in technical terms, but it feels like a clutch slipping. At speed not as bad.

have experimented with hand position and shaft length on paddles, and discovered that even a cheap, heavy paddle with a long shaft out-worked the fancy mid-wing I have now... so want a long shaft and a huge paddle blade now... :)

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38954 by kayakingguy

Hmm. Lisa Carrington, who weighs 65kg but cranks out 30 pullups with an added 20kg weight for a warmup uses the same sized blades as myself (gamma medium minus). My blades are too big for surfski for me (they work for marathon K1).

Jantex make some big blades. Going straight into big blades is a mistake, IMO. Not even the strength monsters advocate using them. Ivan Lawler, multi-times world marathon champ plus sprint olympics medalists advocates staying with a smaller blade.

Using a big blade can fool you that you have a good catch and pull technique. To quote Ivan "swimmers can grip the water with a hand.". I thought my technique was ok; when I bought a very wobbly K1 it exposed my flaws and I had to put in a lot of hours improving technique. 

So I'd suggest using the Epic paddle wizard and going with the results on that. 

When to move to a bigger blade? That is a very good and not easy question. 
I think when you can do multiple intervals (say, a 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 pyramid x 3) and you are finding it easy on joints, no strains or tiredness in particular muscles. 


Not sure who Lisa Carrington is, but I'm guessing she's a heck of an athlete. I'm one giant back muscle from my athletic background and could tell all sorts of meaningless stories about strength feats, but that of course does not translate to being a good paddler. Wish I knew more people here in the states that paddled seriously (okay, anyone... I literally don't know one other person here with a surfski)...

I'm like a Zebra among horses here, with nobody to train with and no foundation other than ocean kayaking. I watch videos on YouTube etc... my aussie buddy died and he was my main contact with this sport.

I've got a mid-wing paddle already... What kind of intervals are you talking about? I'm not following, but would like to learn. There's no local clubs here that I know of.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38956 by mrcharly
A bigger blade will definitely slip less in the initial sprint - however, that is a lousy situation to check general paddling technique. Once 'up to speed' your paddle should slip very little, slipping into the water hardly causing a ripple, and not pull any water out on the exit. That is a test of technique.

Downside of using a bigger blade?  It is harder to get cadence up in the initial sprint - the too heavy grip leads people to spilling water (and, incidentally, why some paddle designs have a lot of twist - they spill automatically, feeling more comfortable). 
That is why I say my current paddle is too big for me - the sprint to catch a wave is best done with a very high cadence, like a race start, and that is harder to do with a bigger blade. 

Your years of gym have probably given you terrific shoulder and core stability, which is enviable and brilliant. Perfect for paddling.
Don't mistake that for good technique. In 2019, when I was racing a lot, a guy 30 years younger than me joined the club. Fastish runner, big sculpted gym muscles. He was annoyed to find that he was very slow compared to me. More than 10min over a 10km time trial course. Even after months of training he was still 10min slower. I'm no athlete; 50min for 10km run is very hard for me. I beat that fit young bloke with superior paddling technique, nothing else.

When you say the cheap heavy basic paddle out-worked the mid-wing, is that a feeling you had, or did you time yourself and find it was faster?

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38957 by kayakingguy

A bigger blade will definitely slip less in the initial sprint - however, that is a lousy situation to check general paddling technique. Once 'up to speed' your paddle should slip very little, slipping into the water hardly causing a ripple, and not pull any water out on the exit. That is a test of technique.

Downside of using a bigger blade?  It is harder to get cadence up in the initial sprint - the too heavy grip leads people to spilling water (and, incidentally, why some paddle designs have a lot of twist - they spill automatically, feeling more comfortable). 
That is why I say my current paddle is too big for me - the sprint to catch a wave is best done with a very high cadence, like a race start, and that is harder to do with a bigger blade. 

Your years of gym have probably given you terrific shoulder and core stability, which is enviable and brilliant. Perfect for paddling.
Don't mistake that for good technique. In 2019, when I was racing a lot, a guy 30 years younger than me joined the club. Fastish runner, big sculpted gym muscles. He was annoyed to find that he was very slow compared to me. More than 10min over a 10km time trial course. Even after months of training he was still 10min slower. I'm no athlete; 50min for 10km run is very hard for me. I beat that fit young bloke with superior paddling technique, nothing else.

When you say the cheap heavy basic paddle out-worked the mid-wing, is that a feeling you had, or did you time yourself and find it was faster?


So it's RPM, not torque you want when paddling, and the mid-size paddles let you get more "RPM" so to speak?

Ironically I despise gym guys... I always trained for explosive power, not for size, and most big guys were not strong relative to their size. I was lucky in that even as my weight got above 90kg, even close to 100kg at one point, could still do weighted one armed pullups etc... but that was when I was in my 20's and 30's, and not something I'd risk injury doing now... Certainly does not translate to other sports directly. Guys who pick up weights and expect that to translate to other sports are heading for disappointment. Elite athletes in sports also happen to do weight training, but the sport usually came before the weights. IMHO. :)

I feel your pain, I'm not much of an endurance guy, but seem to have a lot of fast twitch fiber. Paddling a ski for me feels different than running, in that I don't get the same feeling of exhaustion... I love it...  But the first to admit I'm starting at 0.

Would love to paddle with some experienced guys, I'm sure it would be very humbling and would learn a lot.

I will take both paddles out and use my GPS to see what sustained speed I hit... it was subjective thus far.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38959 by mrcharly
I think there is a lot in common between efficient cycling and efficient paddling. In both sports, there is benefit from a higher cadence, reduced loading on each 'stroke'. 
For surfski, it isn't just about best grip and pull on the water. It is about an every changing, dynamic status, where the surface is chaotic. Every time you plant your paddle you are using it for stability and direction. Since the surface is chaotic, ever changing, a higher cadence gives more chances for a stable stroke. 

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38961 by Epicpaddler
RPM is a great way to describe it. Proper technique is more important than muscle/power. That's why some of the fastest surfski paddlers look more like marathon runners. I understand what you are saying about the paddle feeling like there is no resistance, but maybe it's just not planted correctly. Remember with surfski paddling it's about pulling the boat past the paddle, not how much water you can displace with the paddle. I've noticed that shortening my paddle a couple MM's and using a higher cadence (RPM) that I actually go faster with less fatigue. 

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1 month 2 weeks ago #38962 by mrcharly


I've got a mid-wing paddle already... What kind of intervals are you talking about? I'm not following, but would like to learn. There's no local clubs here that I know of.


Sorry, I missed the question about intervals.

That sequence is a classic pyramid - you paddle for the stated time (1 minute), then have 30s rest, then 2 min, rest etc.

Each paddling interval should be a maximal effort.  Much more fun to do with some other people than by yourself.

I've used a basic watch (just a waterproof digital, not a smartwatch) with a timer to run interval sessions. 
Interval sessions and technique sessions are key to getting faster.

It is very difficult to improve your technique without someone else to watch and give feedback. Hard to pick up if you are bending the lower arm, punching too early with top arm etc.
Ivan lawler has some great youtube videos on technique. 

You can work on technique by yourself, but need very flat water. Concentrate on each stroke - take a perfect stroke - pause, take another, pause. Concentrate on one aspect at a time - top hand maybe.
I found that rigging a phone to give me speed readouts was useful feedback (on flat water). I could see results from improving stroke; speed would jump up for no extra effort. (that and being less splashy).

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1 month 1 week ago #38963 by kwolfe
I tend to agree with the others in that technique will provide significantly more benefits in terms of speed and stability than going with a bigger blade.  If you have flat water around you, spend $100 on a used gopro (doesn't need to be the latest and greatest) and video yourself.

Then compare that to Lisa Carrington.  Yup a girl!  A girl who is blisteringly fast in a K1 and has impeccable technique.

Once that is all worked out, buy a big ass blade and see what your speed difference is.  The only potential problem is that if you don't like it, they are a bit hard to resell here in the states.  Most people paddling mids and small mids.  

Oh and if you really want to measure speed well, try and find an NK Speedcoach.  I bought one a year ago and love it.  My Garmin watch was always to slow to read out the speed and I was done sprinting before it even caught up.  The NK is only about a stroke behind since it refreshes so quickly.

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1 month 1 week ago #38964 by sarzelopez
[/quote]

In truth, I'm not seeing a down-side to a larger paddle. The mid-wing paddle someone gave me just slips through the water sometimes and I don't feel like it's transmitting my power to the water. I don't have the language to describe it in technical terms, but it feels like a clutch slipping. At speed not as bad.

have experimented with hand position and shaft length on paddles, and discovered that even a cheap, heavy paddle with a long shaft out-worked the fancy mid-wing I have now... so want a long shaft and a huge paddle blade now... :)[/quote]

You need to get a GPS. Even a minimal headbreeze without realtime speed readings will make you feel like you're doing 20kph, rock solid and thinking "maybe I can go pro after all, maybe I am the strongest, the exception etc, etc, etc" 

Some will say the like the bigger blades for faster acceleration, some will say smaller for faster cadence. As far as I'm concerned, I'll use a broomstick if it gets me to 15kph.

The mid wing is tried and true. Get to 12kph on an out and back >7km course (preferrably 10km) with it. Then you can justify any blade size, and any performance with "it works better for me" 

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1 month 1 week ago #38965 by mrcharly
For what it is worth, I used GoPaddler (free version) on my phone to give me speed and cadence readouts. You can alter the update frequency for your phone and that helps with accurate updates.
Really helps - and initially drop your cadence off, go for good style. When your style is very smooth, crank up the cadence. 

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1 month 1 week ago #38969 by kayakingguy


In truth, I'm not seeing a down-side to a larger paddle. The mid-wing paddle someone gave me just slips through the water sometimes and I don't feel like it's transmitting my power to the water. I don't have the language to describe it in technical terms, but it feels like a clutch slipping. At speed not as bad.

have experimented with hand position and shaft length on paddles, and discovered that even a cheap, heavy paddle with a long shaft out-worked the fancy mid-wing I have now... so want a long shaft and a huge paddle blade now... :)[/quote]

You need to get a GPS. Even a minimal headbreeze without realtime speed readings will make you feel like you're doing 20kph, rock solid and thinking "maybe I can go pro after all, maybe I am the strongest, the exception etc, etc, etc" 

Some will say the like the bigger blades for faster acceleration, some will say smaller for faster cadence. As far as I'm concerned, I'll use a broomstick if it gets me to 15kph.

The mid wing is tried and true. Get to 12kph on an out and back >7km course (preferrably 10km) with it. Then you can justify any blade size, and any performance with "it works better for me" [/quote]

Got out on calm water today with an actual Garmin GPS, managed to get the V8 up to 9.5-10 mph for very short distances with a mid-wing paddle... my endurance isn't as great as I thought though, 7 mph for a few miles on calm water is definitely a workout. After the first few strokes I guess the paddle isn't really limiting me, and for 500 bucks I can wait on buying another paddle for a few years.

I'm most interested in sprint-type events... I've never been an endurance athlete, but would enjoy moderate pace longer paddles with some other folks, if I manage to find any.

I'm sure my form is horrid, but have been improving a little watching videos.  Watched some video of the woman you guys are mentioning. Great athlete. I don't think she can actually do 30 pullups with a 45 lb weight, but strong enough to do a set with one, which is impressive for a woman her size. 

Trying to find a local club or even one single local experienced paddler, but so far no luck. Will try the Go-Pro idea someone mentioned to see myself.

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1 month 1 week ago #38970 by agooding2
Fast paddle.com has some 837 surface area Braca blades on sale for $225, regular sizes like normal humans use are close to $500. So if you have the muscle give it a shot.

fastpaddler.com/used-braca-paddles/

-- Andrew

Nelo 550L, Streuer Fejna, 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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1 month 1 week ago #38971 by kayakingguy

Fast paddle.com has some 837 surface area Braca blades on sale for $225, regular sizes like normal humans use are close to $500. So if you have the muscle give it a shot.

fastpaddler.com/used-braca-paddles/

-- Andrew


Will check it out. I think you guys are right, the equipment won't matter as much as time in the seat and practice. I'm just darn curious to see what a paddle the size of a trash-can lid can do. LOL

I think in the long run, with lots of practice, I'd be a below-average distance paddler, and maybe slightly above average but not great sprint paddler, in a perfect world, but being out on a ski is just so much fun... who cares about the destination as long as you're spending time on the water?

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1 month 1 week ago #38973 by Wombat661
I have same question. Why not get the largest paddle possible. I have not heard of a good explanation other than experts said don't do it.

Wing paddle is similar to an airfoil or hydrofoil. You actually stroke in an arch. The paddle goes outward as well as backward. The component of motion that goes outward cause the wing to generate lift, and give you more pull.
Like a airplane, why not put on a football field sized wing. It will be way more lift than necessary. The downside is you have much more drag. I think is the same with a wing paddle. If is too big, it may slip less through the water, but there is also more drag. At some point, drag becomes a bigger penalty than the slightly less slip. I see the Greenland paddle is very narrow. Eskimos have perfected it for hundreds of years. They must have figured out the optimal slip versus drag.

As for the paddle slipping. I think there may be two factors in a stroke. The entry is important. You don't want to create a lot of bubbles or slap the water. Like a wing, you want to establish a good flow of water thru the paddle immediately. Water is heavy. It has momentum, and don't like to change speed or direction quickly. If the entry is incorrect, and you push water downward, you get a bad flow thru the wing foil. It will take time for water to establish a good flow, or a good flow may never establish fully. Then you are not generating lift, and not getting the pull. Oscar Chalupsky videos are great help here.

The other potential issue is the speed of the paddle thru the water. As the paddle go thru a stroke that follows an arch, the blade changes direction and angle relative to the water the entire time. There is an optimal speed profile to swing the paddle thru the water. With the right speed profile, water is going over the wing smoothly, and generating lift. If you suddenly speed up during the strong part of the stroke, and slow down at a weaker part, you are disturbing the nice flow of water over the paddle. Water is heavy, and can't speed up and slow down immediately, so the flow across the wing would be messed up, and you would be generating drag, but loosing grip on the water.

To practice paddle speed profile, I paddle with just the force of a little old lady. Carefully observe how you pull the paddle thru the water. Make it grab the water as much as possible. Do that for an hour. Do it right, and it will feel like the paddle is firmly planted in the water, and you are pulling the boat forward. Use of only small force amplify your mistakes. You can't power thru your mistake. Do it wrong, and the boat hardly moves. Do it right, and you can get surprisingly fast with just a little amount of force especially with our slick surfskis. Once you get the feel of the water, then you can apply full power. If you have a good strength background, you should be able to go really fast. It feels really good once you feel the water. You feel the efficiency as you are actually pulling forward instead of just stirring the water.

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1 month 1 week ago #38975 by Impala
"Lisa Carrington who weighs 65kg but cranks out 30 pullups with an added 20kg weight for a warmup"
I am wondering where that achievemnt is documented with footage? I only found a Maori language YT channel where this was claimed (
at 2:50), but not actually shown. I doubt whether this is possible at all for a woman CONSECUTIVELY ... and if yes, it would be an all-out effort, not a warm-up. If, however, she drops to her feet between pulls, I have no doubt it can work for an accomplished athlete like her. With spacing such breaks as required, you can do  quite a number of pullups in a certain time, even with added weight. Not being specifically strong, I can do only 12 pullups consecutively, but 180 in 30 minutes as a training routine.

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1 month 1 week ago #38976 by mrcharly
I have no doubt she can do it. 
I'm not athletic. When young, I could crank out 2x35 pullups (unweighted). Some good paddlers in my club would do 10 on one arm, 10 on the other, keep switching back and forth. 

Lisa is a phenomenon. She's hardly lost a race, at any level, for years.
Judging what she can do by what we can achieve is not sensible. Her abilities will be far, far beyond what is possible for mere mortals.

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1 month 1 week ago #38977 by kayakingguy

I have no doubt she can do it. 
I'm not athletic. When young, I could crank out 2x35 pullups (unweighted). Some good paddlers in my club would do 10 on one arm, 10 on the other, keep switching back and forth. 

Lisa is a phenomenon. She's hardly lost a race, at any level, for years.
Judging what she can do by what we can achieve is not sensible. Her abilities will be far, far beyond what is possible for mere mortals.


I'm sure she's exceptional. I don't know paddling, but I grew up around gymnasts and other strength athletes, even held an unofficial world record for weighted pullups myself (5X225lbs). I don't think she's stronger than other women or men I trained with based on the videos I saw, but that doesn't diminish that fact that she's an amazing paddler. 

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