Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

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MrJazz
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Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by MrJazz » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:50 pm

Questions:
1. Why would you not paddle with zero offset paddles?
2. What could possibly be the advantages?
3. And why are H2O the only brand to make them as standard?

Answers:
1. Because you are a pro flat water marathon kayaker and wind resistance matters like drag to a hairy swimmer.
2. They are slightly less likely to snap when running ridiculously huge drops and holes - but the risk there is still pretty high
3. Because people are afraid to break conventions. If everyone went into their local kayak shop and asked for zero offset paddles, then maybe the manufacturers would think about making them as standard.

Personally, i'm fed up having to wait 2-4 months for decent paddles, so I'm starting this campaign to move UK kayaking one more logical step forward.

Would anyone like to share their thoughts on the subject?

GoldTopo
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by GoldTopo » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:17 pm

Easier for complete beginners as well, how many times have you seen people going round in circles their first time out, and getting frustrated, because they can't get to grips with the 90 degree paddle they're usually given?

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Edwindle
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Edwindle » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:25 pm

Easier for beginers, yes. But people who have learnt with 45's or 90's won't find it easy to swap. I have tried paddling on them for a few hours and it just felt strange, so I'll stick with 45's. But whatever floats your boat.



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capsized8
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by capsized8 » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:37 pm

Competition aside, wind resistance would be a big issue whilst sea kayaking, also paddling on flat open water, (especially with big blades like the Nordkapps) more so than rivers.

However, rolling is simplified and becomes very easy to teach, I use an old pair of split Bavarias that I can set to L, R or N for teaching rolling.

No more issues regarding the paddle being handed.

The origional paddlers, the Inuit, use a neutral paddle that has a long and very narrow blade, generally made from drift wood, commonly known as a Greenland Paddle, many styles exist and tend to be region dependant, but all that I have seen are neutral feather.
They also would paddle with 2 paddles, 1 being quite long for general paddling at a good cruising speed, also being a long narrow blade the effort required to paddle long distances is greatly reduced. For storm conditions, they change to the "storm" paddle which, to reduce wind resistance is much shorter, but still with long narrow blades. This requires a "slide through" technique whilst paddling.

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Rick Foster
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Rick Foster » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:39 pm

Ive been using 12deg for 3 years, would never go back!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by ChrisBainbridge » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:18 pm

I have been using 0 feather for several years having picked up a pair that were originally ordered for somebody else. I wouldn't go back for whitewater, etc. However wings are different and I have mine set at about 30 deg which seems comfortable. 90 degree are of course easiest in a head wind but try paddling with a side wind! You get blown over on every stroke!

I suspect there is no perfect angle, it is what is easiest for you.

Chris

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:23 pm

I learned to paddle with 90º right. I had sore wrists on a 2 week sea trip and swapped to 90º left (I had made splits I could alter). Shortly after I had sore wrists again, and swapped to zero. Never gone back. Took about half a day to get used to them. That was 15 years ago.

Wind resistance is not a problem, even sea kayaking (and I use Nordkapp blades). No need for speculation, been there & done it. Force 8 squalls dropping off the cliffs on the west side of Islay - paddle was not a problem. If the wind is strong, the effort required to pull the boat forward against the windage of boat and body is much greater than the effort to push the top blade forward - I don't notice it. What I do notice is how well behaved the paddle is in gusts from the side - no problem with the top blade suddenly catching as I turn the feather to plant it. Boats can blown over by side wind, but the zero feather blade is always edge on to side wind.

Lay the paddles flat on a beach and they stay there. Feathered blades "walk" away in a wind.

A racing coach once explained to me that feather automatically put the blade at the right angle to plant - I countered that, scientifically, if it help on one side, it must hinder on the other. A month later one of his protégés was using zero feather. Many people have "demonstrated" to me how natural it is to use feather - and they genuinely feel that it is - because that's what they have learned. Once you learn zero, it's more natural.

I find zero is also fine with Wings - since they self align, I found changing is easier.

Chris

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Dave W » Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:41 pm

I've been paddling with 45 degree paddles for a while now, i don't really know why! I can see major advantages in zero feather. I have paddled for about an hour with them a while back, felt strange but I'm sure i could get used to it. So much so I'm picking my first zero feather paddles up next week!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by feelingjustfine » Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:01 pm

I had a set of 0 degree paddles and sold them fairly soon-it wasn't the fact that the feather was really hard to get used to-I find it easy enought to swap between feather, just creeking on theings like the Coe where the wind is coming straight at you at 50mph and giving you a thourgh battering they were an absolute PIA and wound me up something rotten and just generally prefer having a feather on the paddles and couldn't see anything they had to offer more than any other paddles. I know a few people who are the same and just want a feather of some sort on their paddle, it has nothing to do with "not being able to get with this modern hip paddle feather thing" or whatever it is that you feel is so great about it, nor is it about not being able to swap between feather-as I said, people will happily swap between 45, 60, 12, ect degree but just not like zero. It is like saying-"why not just paddle a DR Fish, people are too afraid to break convention" or something, it is not breaking any convention, just some things are a little different and some people like these things, most don't but some do for their own reasons- knocking 12 degree off you paddle is not breaking a convention(!), it is simple preferance, simply find what you like and go with that and it just so happens that most people including most pro's don't like zero. As I pointed out earlier-it is not a particually logical step and there are alot more reasons not to go for a zero than there are for it IMO as well as (obviously) most other peoples.

Why are they less likley to snap on big drops and holes BTW?

Chris.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by paddledragger » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:10 pm

I have been paddling with 0 feather paddles now for about 12 months or so, my werner sherpas were originally a 45 deg and I tried the 0 feather that my coach was using because I had been considering a lower feather and couldn't decide how low to go with it. It took me literally about 5 minutes to get used to his and I immediately decided they were definitely what I wanted. My husband adapted the sherpa for me to 0 feather but when I wanted a new paddle from Werner it took over four very frustrating months for me to get it and clearly if anything happens to it and I need another I am going to have to wait again for the one I want. I now paddle with a 0 Werner twist and do love it. None of the strokes/braces/rolling were in the slightest bit more difficult for me and some were easier in fact. My ten year old son is now paddling with my old sherpa, he started with the 45 deg paddle initially and has also found the 0 feather suits him perfectly, far better than the feathered ever did in fact. Even at his young age you would be v hard pushed to get him to change now, he loves it but will likely have the same problem if and when he needs a new paddle. I did lend my paddle to someone for about 5 minutes and borrowed theirs in the meantime but was soon shouting around the river like a mad woman to please please give me my paddle back, I just won't revert back to feather now but would like to be able to pick up a new 0 feather if needs be without waiting for months or having to start cutting and shutting!!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by DanH » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:19 pm

I'm currently toying with the idea of switching to zero feather. It does make a lot of sense for the creek or play boater amongst us. It makes strokes on both sides the same, reducing the extra rotation required for off-side strokes and hence improving the ergonomics for the paddler. Personally, I can't really think of any disadvantages of a zero feather aside from initially getting used to them.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by antbjanne » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:48 pm

I took my new streamlyte carbon paddle,cut it in half,rejoined with a bit of alloy strimmer shaft and some P40 at zero feather.Felt a bit wierd for about an hour and now love it.Good for forward bracing when you purl,stopped many a few front somersaults in the surf and can't feel any disadvantage atall,total improvement as far as I'm concerned......
Tony

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LJF
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by LJF » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:46 pm

feelingjustfine wrote: Why are they less likley to snap on big drops and holes BTW?
As I understand it.

Specifically in these circumstances, paddles normally break on or over something (i.e. you or your boat). If they're set at the same angle there can be equally large amounts of force on both sides. However with a feather, one of the blades wouldn't be at the same angle and so wouldn't have as much force acting on it, so the blades would be more likely to pivot rather than snap.

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DanH
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by DanH » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:55 pm

As a add on to this, what feather are you currently paddling with and why?

When I learnt to paddle 20 years ago I was given a paddle with 90 degree feather, that's just what happened back then. Ever since then I have been purchasing paddles with less and less feather, 80, 70, 60, 45 and I am currently using 30's. I think my next set will be a zero though!

The more I think about this, the more sense it makes to me to have a zero feather!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Mission » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:57 pm

capsized8 wrote: However, rolling is simplified and becomes very easy to teach.
I back deck roll which might have some influence:
When I roll with Zero feather I find the free blade catches in the water and slowing my roll. Is this not the same for normal rolling or is it just because im awkward?

Apart from that I loved zero feather, Id seriously consider getting a set if they didnt trip my roll up.

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Unstabler
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Unstabler » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:22 am

I waited 6 months or so a while back for a set of carbon werner players in 0°feather, and they were ok, but to be honest, I much prefer a bit of feather (30° or so) to none at all. When I snapped them, I went back to Werners standard feather on a cranked shaft, which I find far more natural to paddle with.

I think it's a misconception that 0° means you don't have to rotate your wrists.

Back deck rolling with 0° feather was impossible for me, for the reason above.

All in all, 0° isn't for everyone. I've tried it, but I don't like it.
Paul (Un)Stabler

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by cucc2stu » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:51 am

I paddled with zero feather for a while, I quite liked it - although I have currently gone back to more normal feather, partly for the convenience - and don't overall find it any better or worse. It isn't true (or at least it wasn't for me) that there is no wrist twisting with zero feather. There is definitely about 10 - 20 degrees difference between how my hands line up for left and right strokes. Whilst paddling with zero feather I would often allow a little rotation though each hand to compensate for this which works quite well, and helps you to keep a loose grip on the paddle, but I'm not sure whether it is always ideal. Zero feather can also make it tricky to get the paddles to the surface to roll in bigger water or whilst getting a kicking - where they also seem more likely to get pulled out of your hands (just my experience anyway).
Stuart

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:57 am

The "correct" feather is influenced by a number of factors but one of the most fundamental (and to judge by a number of these discussions over the years, least understood) is how high or low your paddling style is. It's easy to demonstrate this. Sit on an upright chair with no arms. Hold a broomstick in a paddling position, with the head of the broom on your control side. Ideally, don't use a real paddle because the actual feather of the one you use may influence the results. First, hold the broom with your control hand down by your hip as if towards the end of a stroke, and the opposite hand in front of your face as if for a very high stroke where the paddle shaft is almost upright. Get someone to mark the highest point of the other end of the "paddle" - because we are going to measure how much it rotates. Now switch to the equivalent position for the opposite stroke, maintaining your grip as normal with your control hand, and focusing on *not* bending your wrist. Don't look at the end of the broomstick, look at your control wrist (now in front of your face) to double-check that you are not rolling it. Mark the top of the non-control end again, so that you can see the difference between the two marks. The difference is the amount of feather you would need to achieve zero wrist roll with that very high stroke.

Now repeat the exercise with an extremely low stroke, such as might be used with a long touring paddle.

What you should find is that the first, high stroke resulted in a fairly high natural feather angle, maybe as much as 60 degrees. The second gives a very low angle - not zero, but just a few degrees. This is why slalom paddlers, who typically use a very high paddling style, tend to use more feather, and touring/sea paddlers tend to use less.

The significance of this is that it helps to establish what feather angle will result in the minimum stress on your wrists and elbows. It's not the only factor in setting a feather angle, and you can't realistically expect to paddle white water with no wrist roll at all.
Steve Balcombe

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Glyn B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:30 am

That is the biggest load of pseudo scientific nonsense I've read! High or low style makes no difference at all.
The only reason for a feather WAS wind resistance for long distance paddling.
The theory being that as you paddled into the wind the edge of the blade rather the back was presented to the wind thus minimizing the resistance.
Whether you paddle high or low you still have one "fixed" hand and one free. What you are suggesting is that your style (low or high) changes side to side!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:25 am

Spyder wrote:That is the biggest load of pseudo scientific nonsense I've read! High or low style makes no difference at all.
The only reason for a feather WAS wind resistance for long distance paddling.
The theory being that as you paddled into the wind the edge of the blade rather the back was presented to the wind thus minimizing the resistance.
Try it before dismissing it. You'll find you are wrong.

Also, learn to read better. I didn't say that wind wasn't also a factor, in fact I specifically said there are other factors which influence choice of feather.
Whether you paddle high or low you still have one "fixed" hand and one free. What you are suggesting is that your style (low or high) changes side to side!
You haven't understood what I said. Try it.
Steve Balcombe

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by MrJazz » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:30 am

LJF wrote:
feelingjustfine wrote: Why are they less likley to snap on big drops and holes BTW?
As I understand it.

Specifically in these circumstances, paddles normally break on or over something (i.e. you or your boat). If they're set at the same angle there can be equally large amounts of force on both sides. However with a feather, one of the blades wouldn't be at the same angle and so wouldn't have as much force acting on it, so the blades would be more likely to pivot rather than snap.

Most obvious way to see this: hold both blades under water (in clear water). Grip the shapft normally. Move the the blades back and forth gently and watch them bend in the middle.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by MrJazz » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:33 am

Mission wrote:
capsized8 wrote:
When I roll with Zero feather I find the free blade catches in the water and slowing my roll. Is this not the same for normal rolling or is it just because im awkward?
It's normal and your technique just needs slight adjustment (comes naturally when you start playing with 0 feather).

Additionally: Try back deck rolling the other way with your 45s. What happens?

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by cucc2stu » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:47 am

Steve B wrote:The "correct" feather is influenced by a number of factors but one of the most fundamental (and to judge by a number of these discussions over the years, least understood) is how high or low your paddling style is.
Playing with my hoover pipe, I'm not sure it's quite so much high or low as straight and bent - certainly for a high stroke. If you have your top arm bent (which I tend to have in most white water paddling, particularly to keep an active blade in white water) then that seems to introduce a reasonable amount of rotation side to side. If you lock out the arms and swing with a 'marathon' style then it introduces very little rotation (which is strange as I generally find wings fine with much more feather than any other paddles). It does seem to be true that the lower the stroke the less the rotation. At least as far as I can tell...

All I really know is that for me natural feather (from past experimenting with spilts / paddles without the blades glued in) is about 20-30 degrees but anything from 0 to 50 is fairly acceptable to paddle with.
Stuart

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by rob.b.666 » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:59 am

Being the aforementioned 'husband' who modified a pair of Werners from 45 to 0 feather, I've had the opportunity to try out my handywork !

The zero feather certainly makes bracing strokes on the left side seem ridiculously easy and made me wonder why I've spent ages having to bend my wrists into silly positions to effect a good low or high brace on that side !

I did find that I had to cock my wrist slightly down, when paddling forward; to achieve full purchase, but am not sure if this is because I'm so used to a 45 degree blade ? If I had the time and money to order a set, I think I'd go for a very low feather - say 15 degrees, to alleviate the above. Would probably try a set of adjustables first though, to ensure I got the most comfortable/practical angle.

Should imagine that playboating moves, such as stalls and loops, would be a lot easier to learn and execute, with a 'flat paddle' set up, as the left blade isn't trying to slice ?

Should definitely be a 'stock' option though !
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:11 pm

cucc2stu wrote:Playing with my hoover pipe, I'm not sure it's quite so much high or low as straight and bent - certainly for a high stroke. If you have your top arm bent (which I tend to have in most white water paddling, particularly to keep an active blade in white water) then that seems to introduce a reasonable amount of rotation side to side. If you lock out the arms and swing with a 'marathon' style then it introduces very little rotation (which is strange as I generally find wings fine with much more feather than any other paddles). It does seem to be true that the lower the stroke the less the rotation. At least as far as I can tell...
You're right about the arm bending. For people who are good at visualising things in 3D it's probably obvious that the control hand (and therefore the entire paddle) rotates as it plays out the stroke, and yes, a bend at the elbow adds to this.

Paddling with wings is completely different of course - but as I've never tried them other than for a few minutes on a coaching course years ago I don't know anything about how feather angle works with them.
Steve Balcombe

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Unstabler » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:18 pm

MrJazz wrote:
Mission wrote:
capsized8 wrote:
When I roll with Zero feather I find the free blade catches in the water and slowing my roll. Is this not the same for normal rolling or is it just because im awkward?
It's normal and your technique just needs slight adjustment (comes naturally when you start playing with 0 feather).

Additionally: Try back deck rolling the other way with your 45s. What happens?
I'd rather be able to back deck roll on one side than none at all.

Back to the original post, you clearly have a preference for 0°, but manufacturers have to be pragmatic when selecting a feather that will appeal to the majority, and I honestly don't think the majority are just "afraid to break convention". As myself and a few others have said, I've tried 0°, and I prefer a bit of feather.
Paul (Un)Stabler

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by SwamP » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:29 pm

Pretty sure this was confirmed as true on a previous post, but....

....when you hold your paddle tightly, rotate your body and shoulders as you should and put in relevant necessary strokes (unlike the Duracell bunny) if you don't loosen your grip at all and don't cock your wrists in any way then you're not actually paddling with 0 degrees.

Lendal once released a split shaft with the amount of degrees marked on the join; thus able to be secured and adjusted for any paddler....a bi-product of this was that you could find out what your own personal 'non-grip loosening' feather was...mine being 23deg.

Shortly after I realised who the £$%* cares and it's all down to personal preference....all the gear and.................

0 degs are just another fad at the end of the day, all fun and games until someone turns into a lefty ;o)
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by The Chuckster » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:49 pm

I think it is AT Paddles, Ken Whiting or somebody American, stated that there needs to be some feather, I think theey said 15 degrees to allow for natuaral wrist rotation whilst paddling. I am slowly getting the feather reduced on all my paddles to around 20 degrees. Currently have 1 at 30 and the others at 45. I too have tried zero and whilst cool, find it a problem swapping back!

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Glyn B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:47 pm

Try it before dismissing it. You'll find you are wrong.

Also, learn to read better. I didn't say that wind wasn't also a factor, in fact I specifically said there are other factors which influence choice of feather.
I can read perfectly well thankyou. If i didn't understand your point, then I suggest you explain it better.

I have been using 0 feather for a couple of years now after suffering medial epicondylitis (tennis elbow). I first went to cranked AT's and that helped but didn't clear the problem, but because of the crank found that the twisting action was very noticeable. Reasoning that it was the strain on the flexor muscles from twisting my right hand to allow for the feather, I got rid of the feather and as a consequence the tennis elbow.

I also found it much easier to brace on the left side as it was exactly the same as my right. Rolling was just as easy. It is also noteworthy that no-one has ever noticed or commented on my zero option unless they pick up my blades.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:11 pm

Spyder wrote:
Try it before dismissing it. You'll find you are wrong.

Also, learn to read better. I didn't say that wind wasn't also a factor, in fact I specifically said there are other factors which influence choice of feather.
I can read perfectly well thankyou. If i didn't understand your point, then I suggest you explain it better.
No amount of explanation will make the slightest difference to someone who doesn't read it (or, apparently, the posts from other people confirming that what I explained is correct).
Steve Balcombe

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