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Seeking input on a new paddle...


Jun 22, 2021
Eugene, OR
Hi All: I'm a longtime user of a Werner Camano straight-shaft paddle (230cm). I'm a very fit, strong paddler (I paddle several times a week for fitness), and generally paddle at a high angle. The Camano is intended as a low-angle paddle, but I've found it doesn't slow me down at all using it at high angles. I'm primarily a touring paddler—I'd like to get into more ocean play and rock gardening someday but touring is definitely where I spend by far the most time.

I want to buy a new bent-shaft paddle (I'm a lifelong whitewater paddler and have used bent-shaft paddles so am familiar with them). I've been happy with my Werner paddle so lean towards sticking with Werner—but I'm open to other brands.

The challenge, of course, is knowing what paddle to buy when I can't easily go for a long paddle with each to test them out? (I'm not sure how much paddling for 5 minutes with several paddles would tell me, but it might help?)

As a high-angle paddler, I'm wondering if one of the Werner high-angle paddles (e.g. Correyvreckan, Ikelos, etc.) would be better? My concern is that I don't want a paddle shorter than 230cm as I paddle a relatively wide boat (a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165 - 23.75" wide). It appears Werner only makes the high-angle blades in shorter lengths (but I'm guessing they make a custom at a longer length).

Finally, I should add that while I'm intrigued by Greenland-style paddles, I'm not sure I'm ready to spend money on one without really testing it first (if possible). Though I know there are other benefits to Greenland-style paddles, I also know many switch to them because they're having difficulty with the physical stress of a "bucket blade" paddle—and I have zero such stress with the buckets. :) I'm also wondering if a Greenland paddle is ideal if my goal is high speeds over very long distances? I tend to paddle at 4 knots minimum (and can do that all day).

Thanks in advance for any observations or suggestions!
It's unfortunate that paddle dimensions are mostly given in overall length. Your Camano has longer blades than most 'high angle' paddles. If you buy a 230cm LOA paddle with a shorter blade you will be immersing qute a bit of shaft with every stroke. And if your new 230 cm paddle is bent-shaft you may find your hands are further apart than your usual stroke position.
Matching the shaft length of your proposed purchase with the Camano you like might be a useful approach, IMO.
If you want to go fast over long distances, my recommendation would be a wing paddle. Not bent-shaft, but they all have adjustable length shafts which you can change 'on the fly'. For rock gardening something like your WW paddle might work best. Lots of choices and compromises! :)
my goal is high speeds over very long distances? I tend to paddle at 4 knots minimum (and can do that all day).
You seem to be moving along at a good clip, but if you really want to go fast, and rock garden, and......an increase in your kayak fleet size might be an option. :) Do you paddle solo or do you have companions that can also 'put the pedal to the metal'?
Thanks John. My grip is pretty wide already (I actually measured and the outer edge of my hands is about 5.5-6" from the joint where the shaft and blade come together). And your point about sticking with the Camano is well-taken. I have hundreds of miles on mine and it's been great. I want to go with a bent shaft because I've been having a bit of discomfort in one of my wrists/forearms and I'm fairly sure (but not 100%) that reducing the angle of my wrist on the shaft will help a lot.

And ha—I'd love to have people to paddle with! I tend to go solo, partly because I'm from Eugene, Oregon (and rarely see anyone around here in anything but a recreational kayak), but also because I paddle at a faster pace than most. It's not that I'm trying to be macho or anything (LOL), more because I used to be a racer (whitewater slalom C-1) for many years so my "default mode" is to go at 80-90%—it's actually more comfortable! (For some reason, trying to paddle at a slower, more leisurely pace actually feels difficult and awkward, LOL.)
I might let go of my bent shaft, CF, Warner Cyprus. But it is much shorter than 230 cm

I used to think the Greenland paddle was just a "stick", but then I saw group leaders using one and staying easily ... in the lead. However, I've been told that one should be prepared to drink "all the kool-aide" in order to attain the Greenland mystique. That's boat design, spray gear, rolling techniques, etc. Maybe someday, but my euro blades are just fine for now.

That said - a "Quill" type blade might be a compromise between a full-on Greenland paddle and the wider "euro" design. I have something similar in a "Little Dipper" paddle. It moves the boat just as well and is easier on the joints for day long paddles.

You give something up for that - the ability to dig in and accelerate. But on a long-ish, "here to there" crossing, it's more important to stay with the group than to pull ahead, then wait, pull ahead, then wait,... On the other hand, if there will be a tricky (Spieden Channel tricky) crossing, I use my Cyprus so I can accelerate quickly if I need to get to another boat.

But I'm pretty isolated socially. I have only one "decades of experience" paddling partner and he is in Seattle. The local store, Tumalo Kayak and Canoe, mostly focuses on White Water boats and SUPs. There was a paddle club in Portland, OOP (Oregon Ocean Paddlers). They might be a resource.
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I'd try a wing if you're keen on going fast for long distances. I'm getting a small wing blade for myself soon, specifically with the intention of speedy long days paddling.

Be mindful that a big aggressive wing blade (any blade really) could put more strain on your joints, which might be no good given the pain/discomfort you mentioned.
Extending on what @JohnAbercrombie said, the web sit says the Camano blade is 52 cm long. So of the 230 cm, 126 cm should be the shaft length.

The next more high angle blade size up I think is the Shuna, which is 46 cm long. So mathematically a 218 cm Shuna would have the same shaft length as you 230 cm Camano.

I have both Shuna and Coryvreken, and much prefer the Shuna. I paddle a Stratos most, which is 24.5" wide and my paddles are 205 cm long. So I wouldn't be afraid of going shorter. Of course, YMMV.

This all said, I don;t use crank shaft, so what I said may be totally thrown out if it interferes with the changes I donlt know about when you get bent...
I suspect you will have to try the various paddles and find what works best for you. I use euro, greenland, & aleutian - in different situations. You may need to travel to an organized gathering where you can borrow paddles.
(For some reason, trying to paddle at a slower, more leisurely pace actually feels difficult and awkward, LOL.
This is what I love about the GP. I can relax while paddling! It seems the GP has a lower gear than euro paddles, and generally used at a lower angle. If I want to pick up the pace, I raise the angle slightly and increase the cadence. No problem at all to keep up with those 'going hard' using the big scoop blades.
This is just my experience with the Greenland paddle. And the price point is great too, especially if you build your own. Its easier than what you may think.
I'm getting a small wing blade for myself soon, specifically with the intention of speedy long days paddling.
For me, the very popular Epic 'Small Mid' wing feels pretty big. My favourite wing paddles are smaller than that, mostly ones marketed as "youth" or "ladies' wing paddles- plenty of grip on the water but easier for me to keep moving.
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I have been paddling with an Aquabound Manta Ray high angle blade for a very long time. I finally cracked the blade on the original last summer getting out of the boat in choppy conditions, and leaning too hard on the shaft, my fault, not the paddle.

So, I bought a new one with the Posi-Lock break apart ferule. The original one was a three-hole snap button. The Posi- Lock ferule allows me to feather the blade at pretty much any degree of feathering. I now paddle with a right hand, 30-degree feather angle. With the old paddle, it only feathered at 45 degrees. The 30-degree angle makes a big difference in the amount of wrist rotation needed at each stroke and is easier and less stressful on my wrist joints. I am extremely pleased with the new one.

Aquabound does make a high angle bent shaft model called the Whiskey Carbon Bent Shaft. It is double the cost of a Carbon Manta Ray, partly because of the bent shaft and it also has a different blade material, so is 3.5 ounces lighter than the Manta Ray (23 oz. vs 29.5 oz.) The new Manta Ray has an abX Carbon Reinforced Nylon blade that is much stronger than a pure carbon blade. The Whiskey has a compression moulded blade. If you were to order a paddle direct from Aquabound, they will make it in whatever length you wish.

Aquabound is sometimes dismissed by folk when looking for a serious paddle. I have used both Werner and Nimbus paddles in the past and they are great paddles, but I have been extremely happy with both of my Manta Rays.

Cheers, Rick
Just a note to say I also paddle wider boats. I've had a few now at 24" and one at 25". Being a bigger guy I engage the hulls to a decent waterline. I started with an inexpensive 225cm low angle paddle then went to a 215cm high angle. Over time I eventually worked my way down to a 210cm straight shaft Cyprus. I find my joints don't like the bigger blades after owning/trying a few. My opinion would be that unless you're quite light weight and riding high in the water you wouldn't want to go any longer than 215cm in a high angle like a Shuna, Cyprus, Ikelos or Corryvreckan. I'll add that I've had a couple very tall friends out in my boats and both engaged the blade well with a 215cm Cyprus.
Thanks for the input everyone—I'm still processing it all. :)

I didn't know Aqua Bound even made high-quality paddles. No insult to them intended—I just thought they only made cheap plastic paddles for the "Pelican and Lifetime" kayak market. Good to know!

It's easy to get bogged down in the details of paddler height/weight/strength, boat length/width, blade length/width, hand position on the shaft, etc. Ultimately, one thing I've learned is that humans are endlessly adaptable. Give me any paddle on earth and if it's all I've got to use for a year, I'll figure out how to make it work! Which I don't say to dismiss all those other details...just that it's hard to know precisely where specifications end and adaptability takes over. (And also hard to know precisely what changes made in one's current paddle would instantly make one a better, faster, farther paddler?)

In my case, I've likely put a few thousand miles on my 10-year-old Werner Camano—so either it's been a pretty good fit for me in all respects...or (to my point above) I adapted to it and it worked fine. So my inclination is to try to get a new blade that is identical to my current one...but with a bent-shaft where my hands normally go on my current shaft to straighten out my wrist angle a few degrees.

Which in itself could raise a raft of new questions, LOL. For example, I use a lot of torso rotation and reach when I paddle—so my blade on entry is (likely) farther forward than most people's. And when your entry is farther forward with a straight shaft, physics dictates that your wrist will be at a greater angle (relative to your forearm) than it would be if your entry is 6" aft. Which is why I want a bent shaft to reduce that angle...but folks who may not be as far forward on entry may not experience as much wrist angle. (So many variables! LOL)

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