Group: Super Administrators
Joined: Jan. 2004
||Posted: Aug. 24 2005,20:32
Ok this is it. Broze's "perfect paddle" revealed. Before I continue, let's briefly review his original goals and intentions:
|"What matters most is how the paddle feels to the paddler. In an attempt to discover or design the paddle that worked best for me, I experimented with many different paddles, and made numerous changes in the blades...what is most important to me is moving a fast sea kayak over long distances at near hull speed in all conditions. My style of paddling and choice of paddles is intended to minimize wear and tear on my ligaments and joints (while achieving his goal)."|
Broze spent several years experimenting and testing various paddles and blades, and engaged the opinions and experiences of several other expert paddlers. Here's his perfect paddle:
Total Length: 86 inches (218 cm)
Blade Length: 16 inches
Blade Width: moderate
Blade Weight: light
Shape: small lengthwise curvature
Shaft: ovalized in both handgrip areas
Although he didn't say, Broze favors a bit of dihedral and asymmetry. He is currently working with a builder to make his perfect paddle even lighter.
Now let's review what we learned:
Weight: Total weight, while important, is not nearly as important as blade weight (swing weight). Low swing weight reduces your effort, allows a faster transition between strokes and thus less loss of yak speed, allow a faster cadence (which results in getting more power out of a smaller blade).
Length: Again, although total length is important, shaft length is your first concern. Combined with a shorter blade, this allows a longer reach. Among many factors, torso height is perhaps the most important. Most paddlers will be happy with a length of 210 to 220 cm.
Shorter Paddles: have most of the advantages - lower swing weight, allow a higher angle with the forward stroke closer to the kayak, promotes better tracking, have better and more precise control and transfer of power, and allow short quick power strokes that are more efficient at transferring power. Your grip can easily be shifted to allow wide sweeps where necessary.
Grips: Ovalized both sides allow changing control from right to left, fit the hand better, and give a flat surface for the pushing hand to push against (when feathered).
Blade Area: the big, big news is that blades up to 30% larger do NOT provide significantly more power. Rather they are heavier, catch more wind, and have no real advantages. Broze determined that relatively small changes in paddle length and/or speed of stroke more than made up for any differences in area.
Aspect Ratio: Broze found little difference between a narrow blade and a short, wide blade that was 30% larger in area. His experiments showed that perimeter (amount of edge) made no noticeable difference. And he found that longer/narrower blades required more precision in sweeps and braces. Last, he noted that most blades have no problems with flutter (unless driven very hard to accelerate the kayak); flutter became a problem only with extremely narrow and/or convex blades.
Blade Shape: Asymmetrical blades (and also round-ended blades) reduce twist, have no negative qualities.
Blade Curvature: Although spoon shaped blades have more grab and power they are very twitchy and can easily go out of control. Reverse strokes are "mushy". Blades with a slight lengthwise curvature are a far better choice, allow a cleaner entry than a flat blade, and a bit earlier application of power.
Based on all these, and my own experience here's what I'd recommend:
An adjustable length (210 to 220 cm), adjustable feather carbon paddle, ovalized handles - with a 16 inch, moderate width, asymmetrical blade with a small lengthwise curvature, and mild dihedral ridge. Now a paddle like this can easily cost $350.
However, I was fortunate to discover a great South African paddle made by SET (Surf Engagement Technology), with infinite adjustments for both length and feather, very well made, just $175. This became my favorite paddle, and although I tried it at the maximum 220 cm length, it was not long before I found minimum 210 cm length to be much more effective. The blade, at 16 x 8 in, is a bit wider than ideal but is nicely asymmetrical which reduces the area nicely.
Not perfect, but very, very close as far as I'm concerned.
So that's it the "Perfect Paddle", and of course YMMV, but it's my hope that any deviations you make will be knowing and intentional.
What did you learn from this series? Find anything surprising?
If you'd care to, take the time to describe your own paddle - length, blade length, width, shape and curvature, material of constructions, etc. - how you like it, and especially, what you'll be looking for in your next paddle. Thanks...
Edited by Capn Jimbo on Aug. 25 2005,14:48
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