Paddle recommendation

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Paddle recommendation

Postby roastman » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:44 pm

I have just taken my Malibu Stealth 9 out on the Tweed River for the first time. Prior to this, my couple of kayak adventures were on still water, just to get the hang of being on top of a kayak.

I paddled up and down river for about half an hour quite successfully, enjoying some time flipping soft plastics without success. When I decided to return and got back into the main current, the tide was raging and the few hundred metres back to my car felt like a few kilometres. The small Stealth 9 is not exactly a speed demon, but it is super stable, which is why I purchased it. Being short and wide, it will not set any records. I am sure my technique is also poor, so I will need to do some research, or spend a day out with someone who knows what they are doing.

I was fatigued and frustrated by the time I got back. Being a boatie, the concept of tides related more to fishing success, rather than my ability to get back home. Fighting the tide in a kayak was a bit of an eye opener. Getting closer to the shore helped a little, but not much.

I cannot change the kayak, nor would I want to, as stability is probably more important while I learn than speed. However, I was wondering what impact a better paddle may have? I have a budget two piece metal paddle from BCF, which does the job but seems like a lot of hard work. Will changing the paddle make much difference? If so, what should I be looking for in terms of shaft, blade etc? The Stealth 9 is really wide (over 80 cm), so despite my height (182 cm) I still reach a bit to get the paddle into the water. Would a wider blade or a different blade design help? Any other recommendations to make this a bit easier, apart from practicing more and building up better kayaking muscles?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby Paulioq » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:02 pm

its all technique if your tall maybe a longer paddle so you don't have to dip over so far to get into the water when I was looking at kayaks I looked up paddling technique and watched a you tube video of a tug of war between an Olympic paddler vs a 40yo fat guy in a hobbie and the hobbie just skull dragged him backwards. and am glad I did because it was enough to make me go get a Pedal yak. I had to get through boat passage under the bridge one time with a broken mirage drive mast on one flipper so just the other flipper for propulsion. I tried paddleing through with the paddle only to know how it feels to paddle a km and only move a 100m befor it spat me out and then I tried with just the single flipper on the mirage drive after doing a dodgy and removing the broken flipper, well I made it through on that one flipper quicker and easyer then paddling. you'll have to think of tidal movement when in your yak or you can get caught out like you have been and returning exhausted feeling like you had to fight for your life in the current is no fun.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby roastman » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:23 pm

Thanks @Paulioq

Sadly, a pedal yak is not in my near future. I tried to find a longer paddle today (looking for a 240 cm plus version), without any success. I compromised and got a full fibreglass model from Anaconda, which is nearly 10 cm longer than the aluminium paddle I already had. I thought this may do until I can order a more suitable model to replace it with. The fibreglass paddle made a big difference. I was paddling against the tide and wind, but made far better headway than I did with the aluminium/plastic paddle. Your suggestion about technique is also a good one. I watched a few videos talking about paddle types, which also then moved into technique. I used my upper body more (not just my arms) and that also helped a lot.

Paddling the fat yak up stream is still hard work, but these couple of changes certainly helped a lot. Not sure now if I will bother buying a more expensive paddle (got 30% off the ticket at Anaconda today on a paddle normally $189), as the Seak Voyage actually seems pretty decent. I may be imagining the improvement, but I was paddling the same tide today as I was yesterday, but today was a lot easier. Can a paddle really make that much difference? It seems like it did, along with some improvement in technique. It was a quite large difference, so upgrading again may not provide quite as incredible an improvement. While the technique certainly was a factor, I cannot believe the better paddle did not make a difference. The blade shape is slightly different, the length slightly more and the weight is lower. It certainly seems to suit my stroke far better than the other paddle, so it was a successful day.

If I get a chance to try something better, I would certainly be keen to see the effect of an even better paddle. However, at the moment, the paddle and technique change have certainly increased my enjoyment on the water.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby NorthSIKer » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:11 pm

Double post
Last edited by NorthSIKer on Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby NorthSIKer » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:11 pm

A pedal yak has lots more torque than a paddle yak but in the against tide situation it is speed you need, or more precisely low hull resistance is what you need for an advantage.

Not sure a paddle can make all that much difference unless what you are using now is really poor. A larger blade means you can pull more water, but at the cost of more energy (and strain) on each pull. You can accelerate faster with a bigger blade but over any distance you'll tend to put in less paddles per minute than with a small blade and because of the extra fatigue from pulling against the greater resistance, be at a similar speed or potentially even be slower than with a smaller blade.

If you are as strong and fit as an ironman a more powerful paddle would be an advantage for a shortish distance but anything other than that it will almost certainly be a disadvantage.

Paddling against a tide like that will rarely be fun. Basically, the hull of your kayak has a relatively slow top speed due to its width and short length. Say Effort Level A is 4km per hour in your yak, same Effort Level A in a surf ski (for example) may be 8km per hour. Tide running out at maybe 3km/hr. Your net speed is 1km/hr, a surf ski is 5km/hr. Double the effort with a more powerful blade and a lot more muscle work that comes with it and your kayak may be doing 5km/hr and a surf ski 10km/hr. But note the resistance of paddling goes up exponentially beyond a point and no matter what paddle you are using you are going to be working a heap harder. I use that effect to my advantage on some group paddles over a bit of distance were some smart*(@3 invariably always wants to try and 'beat the Mirage'. I let them get there few hundred metres ahead at the start because they fail to realise they are working twice as hard as me to gain a minute or two advantage at most. Usually pretty easy to pass them after about half way at a cruise unless they are much fitter than I (which some are :lol: )

Maybe you go from a standard (flat or euro) blade to a wing blade on your paddle. Credible estimates suggest a wind paddle may be 3% or maybe a fraction more efficient than a euro blade for the same effort. This is huge in a racing situation and especially if you have the fitness to get all that advantage but will be of little difference for your situation. You may think that your total speed from the situation above may go from 4km/hr to 4.1km/hr (3% gain) but because the resistance of the hull is going up exponentially is likely to be less. Same with paddle technique (though the gains are likely to be greater if your current technique is not great).

In summary, you have a yak for certain situations - and it will be fantastic for those ask. But note its limitations and avoid using it in situations where speed or covering distance is important.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby roastman » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:02 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply.... I am certainly more conscious of tides now. It was neven an issue in my boat, short of trying to time the fish biting. The paddle certainly made a difference, as it seemed more “efficient” in the water. Maybe the shape just suits my angle of attack better? It is also a lot lighter, which probably will reduce fatigue a bit..

Great replies!
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby laneends » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:04 pm

Its probably more a case of having a stiffer blade. Plastic blades will really flex under high load. Hobie paddles are the same. Think of stirring mud with a plastic spatula. High end paddles are only worthwhile on sleeker kayaks.

Against stiff winds and strong tides a pedal kayak has no side to side yaw (side to side deflection) as a paddle kayak inevitably does with each stroke. The shorter the kayak the worse this is,. Hence the more energy going into pulling it back on line against the current rather than going forward. Hence why longer kayaks are more efficient.

Techniques have diminishing returns with an inefficient hull design.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby roastman » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:11 pm

The blade is certainly a lot firmer, plus a noticeably different shape. When I said it felt more efficient, I could more accurately say I did not need to intentionally dig deeper to get good purchase. The design seems to work well with my naturally flatter stroke. I was not leaning out to get a deeper stroke, as I did with the original paddle, yet I got better motion.
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Re: Paddle recommendation

Postby nigel » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:11 am

On a yak like yours the paddle will make little difference but technique is the all important factor plenty of good paddle vids on youtube when you learn the basics things will become easier for sure.

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