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Joined: Jan. 2004
||Posted: Aug. 11 2005,05:38
Note: if you do nothing else, vote. The poll will be useful.
As you'll learn here, shorter really is better. It's about your motion in the ocean.
First a bit more about paddle length. This is also not quite so obvious, as there are two elements: shaft length and blade length.
Broze experimented with two paddles: both had the same shaft length and same blade area - but one had a longer/narrower blade while the other had a shorter/wider blade. Naturally the longer bladed paddle was longer overall. He knew that the center of area of the longer, narrower blade would not be much farther out than that of the shorter/wider blade. Thus Broze assumed that the longer/narrower blade would have several advantages:
1. It would have the reach of a longer paddle
2. It would have less wind resistance due to a smaller blade area
3. It would have about the same gear ratio (force required) as the shorter/wider/larger blade (he assumed the center of area of the longer blade was not much farther out than the shorter/wider blade. It seemed to him a longer/narrower bladed paddle would have all the advantages.
After much experimentation he discovered that only the wind resistance was marginally lower. The longer/narrower blade actually took more effort. Why? Stick with this now. Because the tip of the longer/narrower blade is further out, it has to move faster, and creates more resistance.
|Note: Resistance increases by the square of the speed. Double the speed and you quadruple the resistance (loss). The tip of the longer paddle has to cover more water, moves faster and thus - more effort.|
Bottom line: the longer/narrower blade requires noticeably more effort. Bad.
Broze points out that a longer paddle (or blade) actually increased effort and stress. He then concluded that shorter blades and paddles have a number of advantages:
1. They allow you to keep the overall length low while maintaining enough shaft length to clear the gunwales.
2. This allows you to keep your forward stroke closer to the kayak, thus improving tracking. You spend less time and effort correcting your track.
3. They have less swing weight - paddling is faster and easier.
4. Because they are lighter you can react and brace faster.
5. Shorter paddles are stiffer, transfer power quicker and more accurately.
6. Shorter paddles are more manageable, offer more control.
This is not to say that longer paddles have no advantages.
1. They can be kept at a lower angle in strong cross winds, catch less air; however, if the wind DOES catch the longer paddle, it will be much harder to control.
2. Longer paddles provide more leverage on sweep (turning) strokes. Still, it is not hard to shift your hands on a shorter paddle with the same advantage.
3. A longer paddle technically has a better reach from a high wave peak; however with practice and timing, short and long blades both can perform well.
4. A longer paddle allows a lower cadence - but this is only obvious at top speed; both short and long paddles cruise with similarly modest effort.
Note: Shorter paddles (and a more vertical style) are better at top speed, can be "swung" faster, more accurately, allow you to put more power into your stroke.
Bottom line: overall the shorter paddle had all the important advantages.
Next...grips and blade area (this one is surprising)
Edited by Capn Jimbo on Aug. 13 2005,04:07
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