By Jim on Thursday, June 3, 2010
In our latest Video Cast we discuss all features of choosing and using a paddle. We interview Greg Bennett from Bennett Surfboards who have been supplying great paddles in Australia for many years, also Chad Meek a producer of world-class paddles through Meek Australia. Finally we here from a variety of expert paddlers on what they use and choose.
As you will learn from the video choosing a paddle is very much a personal preference. There are many factors that affect your choice including your age, your ability, your size, the craft you would like to use, your budget and more. In the end your choice comes down to a personal decision and feel.
I prefer a flexible, softer shaft as, whilst you may loose a little on the start compared to a very stiff shaft the benefits will come in as you begin to tire and loose a little technique I believe, in my own opinion, that the soft shaft will assist in maintaining a good technique which in turn will make you faster and safer in terms of potential injury. It is more forgiving on the body.
Many flat-water paddlers prefer a longer paddle and stiffer shaft where ocean and surf paddlers, in general prefer shorter lengths with more flexibility. When I raced I used a stiff paddle for my short sprint races then changed to a more flexible paddle for the warm down ensuring that I kept injury free.
The length is again a personal choice with most flat-water paddlers tending to move a little longer and ocean paddlers a little shorter. Many of the better paddlers these days tend to choose something around 212 cm's or shorter, perhaps down as far as 208, for surf and ocean and up to around 218-219 for flat water.
The shape of the modern blade makes quite a difference in speed and can change technique. The size of the blade can make quite a difference. The trick here is to find a size that suits what you are doing. If you choose a blade that is too large you may end up causing stress on your arms and this may lead to injury. A blade that is smaller will allow you to lift your stroke rate. This can help with balance in surf but may not generate the best power in the flat. Again it is a case of listening to all the advice available and making your own choice.