White Water Paddles - feathering

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by SheilaP, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. SheilaP

    SheilaP Paddler

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    OK, so I am browsing through the land of white water paddles. To get a non-feathered set-up it seems to require a special order. What's up with that? I have read many arguments, and actually believe the one that states with such a high angle paddling style you want some feather. I don't need to know about slalom gates and winds, because I really won't be significiantly concerned with either when playboating.

    So my questions (du jour) are:
    Can I switch back and forth from a super low angle (15 degrees) and my straight touring blade with little mental conflict?
    Will this screw up my roll??
    Or should I just order the non-feathered model and keep it simple?
     
  2. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

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    A proper high angle stroke is fairly aggressive. There should be lots of rotation (same with any stroke... be it the forward stroke or not!) and your top hand should be following a horizontal plane at around eye level. The paddle should be a vertical as possible, and your arms should be nearly straight. To achieve this without injuring your wrists, a high angle paddle is usually feathered between 30°- 60° (some go up to 90° but I find that a bit harsh). You also need to avoid the 'white knuckle grip' to save your wrists.

    Switching back will be difficult and awkward at best. I know that anytime I lend my 205 Cypress (feathered at 45°) out to someone in exchange for a 230 Aquabound (unfeathered) the first few strokes are messy and awkward. Bracing will be interesting... I have definitely fallen in bracing with an unfeathered paddle. With rolling, you can slide your hands to the throat of the paddle while underwater to determine the blade position.

    What's stopping you from always having a high angle stroke? I found it awkward initially, but now I'm sold.

    I now have to concentrate when teaching a low angle stroke so that it doesn't creep up. I'm always excited when the high angle session comes in :)
     
  3. SheilaP

    SheilaP Paddler

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    Ahhh, I think I need to clarify my question. :mrgreen: I am mostly a high angle paddler (except for those long days and loaded boats, I prefer the gentle nature of a lower angle).

    I am asking if having one paddle feathered a measly 15 degrees, and one not feathered at all will screw up much. I have been playing around inside with it and beginning to think there is little difference.

    Maybe somewhere in Vancouver has the paddle I really want...
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    There is so little difference between 15deg and 0 deg, that I would choose 0 deg just for the beauty of symmetry, the predictability, let alone the resale, the ease of trying out of other's paddles, or of greenland/aleutian sticks.
    I also think the learning/assimilation curve between either of these low angles and a high angle feathered paddle might be the same or extremely similar.
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Paddler

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    I've played with feather/non feather etc in the past, and from memory the 15 degrees was hardling noticeable for straight paddling, but it did affect bracing, various maneuvers and one direction of my roll (the other direction was fine). It probably depends whether you do much of those things, how precise you are with them, or how particular you are but for me it was enough that I wouldn't like switching back and forth.
     
  6. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    After reading Byron's post, I realized that I missed the detail in your 2nd post clarification:
    You are mostly a high angle paddler but:
    you wonder if there will be confusion if you have 2 paddles, one at 0 deg and the other at 15 deg.

    And I agree with Byron that there will be annoying differences (as they are so similar).

    My confusion comes from my assumption that you also use a well-feathered paddle (say in the 45deg range as pointed out by Alana) to naturally compensate for your high angle stroke and that your query was relative to that.
     
  7. AM

    AM Paddler

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    C'mon, Sheila, break the mold and use your GP with that cool playboat of yours! No worries about chipping the carbon, no problems with feather/non-feather.

    Pautik forever! :wink:

    Andrew
     
  8. SheilaP

    SheilaP Paddler

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    lol! Only if you are out there with me Andrew.

    SO the news is YES 15 degrees is just enough to make you fail a roll and screw up your low brace of the left side. Maybe I will have to beat up my Joe O storm paddle instead. :mrgreen:
     
  9. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Custom order from Werner is about 2 weeks or so,long as it's a standard length anyway, and price is regular retail for the paddle.
    Also, you can get a w/w paddle with any degree feather,cut it in the middle,and rejoin it with a solid wood insert epoxied in, at any feather angle you want to have. I did that with my old w/w Aquabound, got me through most of my first season of whitewater( Until the incident on the Ashnola where I ended up upside down in a class 4 drop,hit many rocks upside down,busted a blade off the paddle,swam and hit many more rocks)
     
  10. bryantb

    bryantb Paddler

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    In my experience (using and teaching with many different types of paddles and feathers in different disciplines): 15 degree differences are pretty easy to adjust to; more than that and you get screwed up. Though I have now gone to using the same feather for whitewater and sea kayaking (45 deg.) and appreciate not having to adjust at all.

    Personally, I see absolutely no point in a 15 deg feather paddle. As Alana points out the reason for feathering is to allow one hand to stay constant on the shaft while the other rotates to keep the wrists in a strong, neutral position. That requires a 30-60 deg. feather for normal people with anything resembling a decent stroke. You can accomplish the same thing with a unfeathered paddle by allowing it to rotate in both hands (one at a time). A 15 deg feather would require you use the unfeathered technique to protect your wrists but it wouldn't give you the certainty of position that a truly unfeathered paddle does. What's the point in that?

    In whitewater unfeathered paddles are often preferred for playboating for reasons that have nothing to do with paddling forward. And Werner and others make unfeathered paddles regularly. Unfortunately most paddlers don't know why paddles are feathered (or unfeathered) and they just copy their friends or buy what happens to be on hand.

    Here's a link to a blog post I wrote on the subject if you want more info on how feathering works:
    http://paddlecalifornia.blogspot.com/20 ... ering.html

    And here's a great video by my buddy Duane on how high angle works for a greenland stick:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/strosaker?b ... ThvWNLOTWQ