Go Big or Go Home......V8 to V14

4 years 1 month ago #27214 by photofr
Paddles are tricky. I can see why so few people even want to talk about them. You've got blade size, blade stiffness, shaft length, shaft diameter, round shaft or oval shaft, shaft stiffness, blade back sweep, and blade twist.

Getting the wrong blade will still make you go forward.
Getting the fastest blade will break you (too powerful, and totally unforgiving).

Here are some ideas:
SMin Braca 4 (IV) - which has been a super popular model for years, or the newer SMin Braca 11 (XI) that I will vouch for, any day - for surfski paddling. In terms of paddle size, you are looking at a very similar surface to the Epic SMid that I own. Actually, the SMid from Epic feels smaller to me than the SMin from Braca. The new surfski specific shaft for the Braca feels better on the shoulders.

I am actually super excited: just placed my paddle order yesterday.
After paddling the whole year with a Braca XI, adjustable 19k surfski shaft, I decided to go one size smaller for my long distance and a bit more comfort. Braca allows total customization and they have plenty to choose from.

Get a hold of this for my new paddle:
Braca Xi, XS blade, Ultralight process for the blades, fixed shaft at 203cm, Surfski-specific shaft called the 19k surfski.

For short, I am just going to call it: "THE ONE" :)

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 1 month ago #27215 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: I have no idea if it's heavier. Just wanted another one just in case
1) I wanted to take someone out in the V8 (me in the V14),
2) Try a different paddle
3) The mid wing I have is in decent shape, but would like the lever lock so I can play with it on the fly.

Oh and 4) just because . I've already proven to use poor judgment in ski selection! Figure I might as well transfer that into paddle selection as well! :woohoo:


Well in that case, have a look on e-bay for "Z&J SPORT Carbon Fiber Kayak Paddle". That's the one I've been using, and I'm delighted with it. You can buy them in the US, but it will cost you about $100 more than by ordering direct.

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4 years 1 month ago #27218 by OSS
Hi Ludovic,
the length of the paddle is quite often a personal thing. As a Nelo distributor and I assume friend of Oskar, I am sure you know that he often starts with a longer length, shortening it during the race. When I had a chat to him quite some time ago, he told me that he started with 221cm during a race and went down to 214cm. If I recollect right, he just posted similar lengths a few weeks ago on FB.
I am 6ft3 (192cm) and paddle between 219cm and 214cm, depending on conditions.
For a while I was experimenting with shorter lengths (down to 207cm) but didn't feel comfortable.
I would suggest to anybody to take the time and experiment with different lengths ad sizes to find your personal best.

New, innovative, different!

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4 years 1 month ago #27220 by Kocho
Congratulations! From the video and speed #s you posted, I think you made the right choice for flat conditions and the fitness paddling you are doing. I got to try the V14 one of these days, though from when I had the V10, I more often than not opted to paddle the Think Eze, being lighter and easier to manage on and off the water, so I ultimately sold the V10.

As for paddle, I used to have a mid-wing Epic just like yours and later switched to the same but in full carbon (green shaft, most flexible) and with the lever lock. I think, it was a worthwhile improvement and noticeable in terms of weight as well as ease of adjustments and a more secure connection b/w the two halves.

Recently I bought the Epic Small Wing in full carbon, burgundy shaft (stiff). Noticeably less power during a stroke, and bracing is less powerful too. But it is smoother on the water, gets a closer stroke for even better rotation, a bit lighter yet, and actually nicer for quick acceleration at higher cadence than the bigger mid-wing.

I'm not after full power and, while I do like the more planted feel of the bigger blade, for the couple of hours at a time that I usually go out, the smaller blade seems less tiring. Also, less windage going upwind, which is important for me as I use unfeathered paddle.

I think for you the 210-220 should be a good range. You'll probably be happiest in the lower to middle range.

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4 years 1 month ago #27221 by kwolfe
Thanks all. I think unless I'm shooting for sprint speed, I'd be better off going with a bitter smaller for long distance.

Aurelius,
Might have to think about that blade. I have been looking at the J&J and rpc3. The price is really enticing. Especially if I want to try a new size.

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4 years 1 month ago #27223 by photofr
Actually, the Nelo distributor for France is done with kayak-online.fr - I just have a small Nelo surfski test center on the water's edge for people to try and compare skis.

Oscar's paddle length used to be in the neighborhood of 224cm when he was using flat blades back in 1985. If I recall, he made the change to wing blades in the early 90's and naturally started to reduce his paddle lengths.

Today, you can see Oscar start a race at around 217cm and immediately go down to about 215cm within a kilometer or so. He usually ends a race with a paddle length in the neighborhood of about 207cm. Take into account that his shoulders are about 2x larger than mine, 1.5x larger than most people, yet he paddles with a shorter paddle than most intermediate and beginner paddler.

I agree, it's a personal preference, but taking a look at seasoned paddlers habits may help others realize that perhaps, just PERHAPS, there are still too many people paddling with a paddle that may be too long.


OSS wrote: Hi Ludovic,
the length of the paddle is quite often a personal thing. As a Nelo distributor and I assume friend of Oskar, I am sure you know that he often starts with a longer length, shortening it during the race. When I had a chat to him quite some time ago, he told me that he started with 221cm during a race and went down to 214cm. If I recollect right, he just posted similar lengths a few weeks ago on FB.
I am 6ft3 (192cm) and paddle between 219cm and 214cm, depending on conditions.
For a while I was experimenting with shorter lengths (down to 207cm) but didn't feel comfortable.
I would suggest to anybody to take the time and experiment with different lengths ad sizes to find your personal best.


Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 1 month ago #27224 by SurfskiEstonia
Would like to share my limited experience with paddles.

I started in May this year paddling an old school K1 with a Braca IV max paddle. I have only good things to say about it: powerful at my weight (85kg), strength (average gym goer) and ability (beginner-intermediate); very forgiving (can change the trajectory of the stroke with the blade still in the water), not too firm catch, clean easy exit.

Then I got my Nelo Ocean Ski surf ski and ordered a Jantex Gamma M, based on numerous reviews and advice online. Until I was waiting for it, paddled the ski on the beach with some chop and waves using a Braca IV min. That was a completely different paddle - I guess it's more for kids than anything else. Didn't like it at all. Didn't give any kind of stability while the blade was in the water, super weak stroke - I could actually pull the blade through the water - it did feel that way. In other words, Braca IV min a complete disappointment.

Then finally got the Jantex Gamma M. That is probably the nicest piece of kit I've got in kayaking/skiing so far. First of all, the feel and finish of the product was absolutely stunning. Don't want to advertise or anything, but I am still impressed with this paddle. But back to what actually matters. The Gamma is really a wonderful paddle for surf skiing. It's catch is really really firm and that gives an ability to relax a bit in even rough conditions, as You can stick the paddle in the water and it will hold You afloat. The pull phase is also very well suited for a ski - You can sprint hard with it for a shorter distance - it will still go with You for some time (but I usually get tired of it soon, so on a K1 I would definitely preder a Braca IV max, yet it will not tire You out on a long marathon paddle. Bracing and reversing is also very nice with a Gamma. It's not just that this paddle suits my physical properties, I've given it to my friends of various size and strength and all of them were rather impressed by it.

Actually one of the guys told me that it has the same shape as the Braca XI, can't really comment on that, but I've seen that opinion before online as well.

In conclusion, I would definitely advise all those planning to buy a new paddle, to consider the Gamma seriously :)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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4 years 1 month ago #27229 by Aurelius

SurfskiEstonia wrote: Would like to share my limited experience with paddles.

I started in May this year paddling an old school K1 with a Braca IV max paddle. I have only good things to say about it: powerful at my weight (85kg), strength (average gym goer) and ability (beginner-intermediate); very forgiving (can change the trajectory of the stroke with the blade still in the water), not too firm catch, clean easy exit.

Then I got my Nelo Ocean Ski surf ski and ordered a Jantex Gamma M, based on numerous reviews and advice online. Until I was waiting for it, paddled the ski on the beach with some chop and waves using a Braca IV min. That was a completely different paddle - I guess it's more for kids than anything else. Didn't like it at all. Didn't give any kind of stability while the blade was in the water, super weak stroke - I could actually pull the blade through the water - it did feel that way. In other words, Braca IV min a complete disappointment.

Then finally got the Jantex Gamma M. That is probably the nicest piece of kit I've got in kayaking/skiing so far. First of all, the feel and finish of the product was absolutely stunning. Don't want to advertise or anything, but I am still impressed with this paddle. But back to what actually matters. The Gamma is really a wonderful paddle for surf skiing. It's catch is really really firm and that gives an ability to relax a bit in even rough conditions, as You can stick the paddle in the water and it will hold You afloat. The pull phase is also very well suited for a ski - You can sprint hard with it for a shorter distance - it will still go with You for some time (but I usually get tired of it soon, so on a K1 I would definitely preder a Braca IV max, yet it will not tire You out on a long marathon paddle. Bracing and reversing is also very nice with a Gamma. It's not just that this paddle suits my physical properties, I've given it to my friends of various size and strength and all of them were rather impressed by it.

Actually one of the guys told me that it has the same shape as the Braca XI, can't really comment on that, but I've seen that opinion before online as well.

In conclusion, I would definitely advise all those planning to buy a new paddle, to consider the Gamma seriously :)


Very interesting, and thanks for the rundown on the Jantex Gamma M. From what I've seen it appears that most people are using either the Braca IV or an Epic paddle, so it's nice to finally see another option being discussed.

By the way, I've been making good progress on the balance ball you recommended. I've had it for about a week now, and my balancing skills on it have improved tremendously. I'm still a long way from being able to paddle a K1, but given enough time.... B)

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27235 by RedBack

Aurelius wrote:
Very interesting, and thanks for the rundown on the Jantex Gamma M. From what I've seen it appears that most people are using either the Braca IV or an Epic paddle, so it's nice to finally see another option being discussed.


If you're interested, have a look at the number of Jantex paddles in the Olympic finals at Rio.

I can honestly say that I haven't loaned my Jantex Gamma to anyone who has not been super-impressed and subsequently bought one for themselves. They are that good!

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27237 by Kiwi Dave
I recently got a used K1 (copy of Nelo Vanquish II) to essentially use as a training tool for ski balance. Thought I'd share a vid of my very first paddle as its probably a similar step change in difficulty as going from a V8 to a V14. This was the best part of the 1h10m session which involved coming out 27 times ... would have been more but some of the time i could put my paddle on the bottom :P The downside being so close to shore was the increase in small wave / surge activity which proved challenging. It should be noted I'm never actually trying to paddle slow or stop hah.

I do think this will be a very useful tool as it makes things which you can't get away with blatantly clear. Even on my SES things that I do sloppily without thinking now result in a swim in the K1. Lets hope those bad / lazy habits disappear real soon !

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27242 by photofr
You may want to seek calmer water at first: like the small river in Kailua. It's quite clean, and very flat. Right now, the smallest of ocean movement seem to give you a hard time.

The Vanquish has very little primary stability, though it gets quite stable at higher speeds, in the meantime, it's a great HIP challenge.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27244 by Aurelius

RedBack wrote: If you're interested, have a look at the number of Jantex paddles in the Olympic finals at Rio.

I can honestly say that I haven't loaned my Jantex Gamma to anyone who has not been super-impressed and subsequently bought one for themselves. They are that good!


I took a look at the prices they're charging for Jantex paddles, and the room started to spin. I think I'll stick with my Chinese Epic knockoff for the time being.

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27247 by photofr
I had this student who was struggling to properly rotate on her ski. We placed her in a more stable ski and so immediate improvements. Then I lent her my paddle (forgiving as can be) and took her paddle.

Seriously, her paddle was a knockoff of something somethin' ... not Chinese... it was like the worst thing I ever tried: Her knockoff paddle felt like the most unforgiving paddle I have ever tried. The great news is: she immediately improved her rotation and efficiency: she was paddling faster, with way more ease and better technique right off the bat.

There's a lot you can do with the right equipment. Chinese knockoff could potentially harm you in more ways than you think. :)

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27248 by Aurelius
So with only one week to go until that fateful moment when I take an elite ski (Stellar SEL) out for the first time, I thought I'd see what kind of results the previous week's practice on the balance ball has achieved. Instead of my stable V7, this time I took out the much tippier SR. I've had problems getting maximum hip rotation on the SR due to it's relative instability: the more I twist to optimize leg drive, the more the boat rocks, and the harder it is to put power into each paddle stroke. Although the V7 isn't anywhere near as efficient in the water as the SR, I can definitely feel that I'm able to pull much harder on each paddle stroke while keeping the boat under control. The result is that while I should in theory be much faster in the SR, the reality is that I'm only slightly faster. :angry:

Yesterday things started to look very different. Keeping my strokes relatively short and increasing my cadence, I was able, after a few minutes of adjustment, to really push hard with my legs, rotating my hips as far as I can, but without any appreciable loss in stability. Higher cadence helped with this, as did keeping my paddle's angle of entry at the catch lower than I'm accustomed to. Usually my top hand will be at eye level or slightly above, but I found that holding my top hand at about chin level caused less side to side rocking, and also eliminated the occasional blade wobble in the water when pulling back hard. Incredibly, my maximum cruising speed rose from about 6.4 mph to 6.8 mph. In one effort, I managed to make it all the way across the lake while keeping my speed just over 7 mph., which would have been out of the question just last week.

I'm not sure what kinds of changes in technique I should consider at this point. Maybe I should just keep doing what I'm doing for the remainder of the week. It's likely that next weekend I'll trade the SR for an SEL, so I may have to start all over, trying to apply what I learned on the V7 and SR to a much more challenging ski. :woohoo:

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27249 by Aurelius

photofr wrote: There's a lot you can do with the right equipment. Chinese knockoff could potentially harm you in more ways than you think. :)


This one is a copy of Epic's mid size paddle. It may even be made by the same company that manufactures Epic's paddles, but is sold for considerably less under their own brand name. I have no complaints about it.

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27250 by photofr
Nothing wrong with the Epic paddles: in fact, they are some of the best all-around paddles for getting started and progressing well. They are great for bracing, and they happen to be quite forgiving. The last thing you'd want right now is a twitchy paddle to add to the mix.

In any case, great job on the improvements... try to stay focus on where you are heading with your paddling, but make sure you have tons of fun one your skis.

Did you ever take a look at the Paddle Stroke Checklist that I posted on Facebook?
There might be couple of things of interest to you there.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27253 by Aurelius

photofr wrote: Nothing wrong with the Epic paddles: in fact, they are some of the best all-around paddles for getting started and progressing well. They are great for bracing, and they happen to be quite forgiving. The last thing you'd want right now is a twitchy paddle to add to the mix.

In any case, great job on the improvements... try to stay focus on where you are heading with your paddling, but make sure you have tons of fun one your skis.

Did you ever take a look at the Paddle Stroke Checklist that I posted on Facebook?
There might be couple of things of interest to you there.


Yes I did, thanks. I'm trying to put all the advise to use, but there are so many things that go into a good paddle stroke that I find myself having to work on just a few of them at a time, or risk getting completely confused!

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27254 by photofr
Again, you are on the right track.

The Intent of the list:
Start with one or two items from the list. Get them right, or where you feel comfortable... then move to other items in the list.

In an ideal world, you'll go back to "older" items - it's all part of it.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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4 years 4 weeks ago #27256 by RedBack

Aurelius wrote: I took a look at the prices they're charging for Jantex paddles, and the room started to spin. I think I'll stick with my Chinese Epic knockoff for the time being.


With all due respect, the paddle is your power delivery device. It's as important as the craft you're paddling.

When you buy a Ferrari, do you fit it with cheap retreads? Not if you want the best performance from it.

The same applies to paddles. I know from back-to-back testing that I'm considerably faster with my Jantex than I was with another brand (which shall remain nameless!).

Indeed, the difference was as great as that between different levels of skis.

YMMV.

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4 years 4 weeks ago - 4 years 4 weeks ago #27258 by SurfskiEstonia
Agree with RedBack here!

In saxophone playing there is an understanding, that the piece of kit closest to Your body (which is involved in playing) is the most important and should not be an item of cost reduction. So, it is of primary importance to get a good mouthpiece, reed and ligature, and only then comes the saxophone.

Also in whitewater kayaking, a lot of experienced guys advise to not economise on the drysuit and paddle, but allow for an older used kayak.

In my view, the same applies here. The paddle for surf ski / flat water paddlers is the most direct piece of gear involved in creating motion and feel of the water. So, I would definitely go for a great paddle and not so great boat than vice versa :)

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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