Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

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DanH
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by DanH » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:05 am

Since my last posting in this thread I went on a brief mountain biking trip in July to the French Alps (first time I've not taken a kayak with me). Unfortunately, on the last day there I managed to crash my bike and in the process damage the ulnar collateral ligament in my right thumb. The result of this was that I lost a lot of the opposable grip from my thumb which appart from being uncomfortable meant holding a kayak paddle/ handle bars on bike etc., etc. was very awkward!

About 5 weeks ago I managed to have surgery to reconstruct the damaged ligament, I'm still in the cast for another week (typical with all this water around)! Now, I've had a lot of time to think over the last few weeks, having not been able to do much else and have made the decision to officially join the "zero feather paddle campaign".

My main reason for this is because using zero feather paddles will result in my right hand only doing half the work it would normally do when using a feathered paddle (the "control hand" is the one closest to the blade doing the work). The result, I'll be back kayaking sooner and I won't have to rely on my damaged right hand to do all the work in the future as I won't have a specific control hand. Additionally, I'll be able simply "hold" the paddle and not have the issue of gripping, releasing and twisting all the time.

I'll let you know how i get on!

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SwamP
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by SwamP » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:27 am

Dan, sorry to hear about your crash...that sucks.

At 20ish degrees I do not release my grip whatsoever due to shoulder rotation and the angle my paddle goes into the water...

Everyone's different though....
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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DanH
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by DanH » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:38 am

Ryan P wrote:Everyone's different though....
Some more than most hey Ryan? ;-)

Hoping to be back in a kayak in the next 3 weeks, last time I paddled was the weekend after Etive race, I'm climbing the walls!

The crash was fine, all part of the bigger picture :-)

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Nugz » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:51 am

I feel zero feather promotes lack of use of core trunk muscles when paddling. This is from observing paddlers, including myself, both on the river and for freestyle.

I agree that having to twist the paddle shaft with a 'control hand' is annoying. Especially when changing edge for a move like a blunt on a small wave where you want to get maximum force through the paddle to give you speed but then as you change edge and load the stern you want to use the other blade to push you boat into the air as the stern rejects. But one crucial part of driving edge change in any situation is trunk rotation. There is no way to really maintain core stability, thus making full use of the power from the paddle, if your edging without engaging your core muscles. Unfortunately strokes like low brace turns get people stuck in rut with a very static solution that is hard to adapt and change as the feedback from the environment changes. So how does a zero degree feather potentially hold back engaging these core muscles?

As your trunk rotates from one side to the other some of that rotation is translated into a degree of paddle rotation. This is not driven by your 'control hand'. So with a set of 45 degree paddles it is a flawed assumption to assume that all that paddle rotation comes from the control hand. Some degree of it comes from your trunk rotation. For me it's somewhere around 15 - 30 degrees.

Therefore if you jump straight to zero degree feather you are inhibiting your bodies ability to rotate your trunk while maintaining full power on the blade be it positive or negative blade pressure.

No one has told me this. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on paddling trying to find out what works by doing it, rather than theorizing. However the result is to communicate your discovery to other you have to theorize!

Anyway, get out there, close your eyes, play around with feathers and make up your own mind. Don't listen to what other people tell you. Just because they are a high level coach doesn't mean you can't challenge and question their suggestions to make sure you understand why it works in relation to your boating philosophy.

When you see me on the river I would love to discuss this kind of stuff with people. Especially those that disagree! We can only learn more.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Nugz » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:52 am

Ryan P wrote:At 20ish degrees I do not release my grip whatsoever due to shoulder rotation and the angle my paddle goes into the water...
I think the 'feeling' Ryan describes as shoulder rotation is the same feeling I am getting at.

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SwamP
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by SwamP » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:04 am

Oops, yeah, shoulder rotation should have read as trunk rotation...I'm just obsessed with my shoulders ;o)

Dan, that looks nice...and I'm not different....everyone else is......... ;o)

See you next WWPF haha
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Nugz » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:26 am

There is no right or wrong way to describe it. We are both getting at the same feeling and trying to communicate it to others. What frustrates me is when people say "You are wrong" just because their terminology is different. They need to get out the country and go somewhere they don't speak English.

We are both right. We have thought about something, looked at the evidence and used that to base our decision on. If more evidence is presented to us by someone else maybe we will totally change our view. Change is the only thing that doesn't change. So let's embrace it.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by mikeybaby » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:38 am

Zero degree feather is just lazy paddling, and you know it!!!!

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SwamP
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by SwamP » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:57 am

What I can’t get to grips with is what exact feather of paddle does the Duracel bunny use? Regardless of Right or wrong his/her S-RPM is high grip is not released…
Lets not try to understand each other. Thanks.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by ricknroll » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:44 pm

I've been using paddles at 0 degree's for about a year now since i got some Lendal cranks, tried all feather settings and settled at zero.
I now use kinetic wings at 0 degs and find them very good at making you use your torso rather than you shoulders. I also use a greenland paddle (very efficient and powerful)
which is 0 degs and paddle pretty much the same as with the kinetic wings.
My river paddle however is 45 degs and although its fine to paddle with does make my wrist ache so I will be getting a set of 0 degs soon.
I must say that the wind on my paddle blades is not as much of a problem as the wind pushing against my head and torso, would be nice to buy a zero degree
paddle off the shelf.

Rich.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Mission » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:19 pm

ricknroll wrote: I must say that the wind on my paddle blades is not as much of a problem as the wind pushing against my head and torso, would be nice to buy a zero degree
paddle off the shelf.
.
You can buy Zeros! Mitchell blades will do paddles in pretty much any setup you want . I got my last set of blades from him with Zero feather.

Biased source

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MrJazz
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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by MrJazz » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:38 pm

I'm still in love with my zero feather VEs.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by livefortheriver » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:40 pm

Saves my wrists and i dont get blisters when paddling for days on end

Also easier for learning to roll, and rolling when you hands come off the paddle, as you can feel when the blade is the right way.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Ian Dallaway » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:10 pm

Nugz wrote:As your trunk rotates from one side to the other some of that rotation is translated into a degree of paddle rotation. This is not driven by your 'control hand'. So with a set of 45 degree paddles it is a flawed assumption to assume that all that paddle rotation comes from the control hand. Some degree of it comes from your trunk rotation. For me it's somewhere around 15 - 30 degrees.

Therefore if you jump straight to zero degree feather you are inhibiting your bodies ability to rotate your trunk while maintaining full power on the blade be it positive or negative blade pressure.
Nugz - I think you are spot on. It's something I have believed for many years. I don't know what the magic number of degrees of rotation it is, and it will certainly be different for differing builds of people. I believe that zero feather will cause a slight lack of power transfer to the paddle because you have to compensate for that natural rotation onto a zero feather.

What feather do our top athletes use? I don't know the answer but I'd be curious to learn.

Interesting topic.
Ian
Ian

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by StoneWeasel » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:22 pm

Personally I bloody hate 0 degree feather paddles, I find they get wrenched out of my hands a lot more in the surf that paddles with a bit of feather and they make punching through waves at the last possible minute a lot harder too as the top blade tends to catch in the wave and drag you back with it (really not a lot of fun in big surf). I like 30 degrees, it seems about as low as I can go before the issues start.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by ChrisE » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:31 pm

I'm not sure if it's been said (I can't be bothered to read the whole thread), but I have also seen that at least a small feather provides for a much more natural stroke with wrist angles etc....

Also 90 feathers are good for polo goal keeping.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Mark Dixon » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:21 pm

MrJazz wrote:I'm still in love with my zero feather VEs.
I spoke with VE and they suggested I go with a low feather because of a shoulder injury, what are the paddles like? Need something not too powerful or else I just pull my shoulder repeatedly, Not sure on zero feather though, think I'll try setting my splits to Zero and seeing what happens.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Peter Brown » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:25 pm

I have 20 degree RH cranks and it seems that LH draw strokes would be easier with less feather. Do you find this to be the case?

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by BurrsRunner » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:36 pm

I'm very pleased with my 0° offset (no feather) VE paddle and would highly recommend them. I went to 0° offset primarily because of a problem with my right wrist which made it painful to use paddles with the usual 45° offset, particularly when bracing on the left side. Since making the switch I have enjoyed other benefits including easier/more-natural rolling & bracing on the left side, along with all the pain of paddling now being nothing more than a memory.
After having a play or two with my paddle, my bro' was stunned by just how good it was and soon ordered one. He also went for 0° offset after echoing my sentiments that in a real-world paddling situation it somehow just worked better (for him, as it does for me), despite what any experts or scientists may or may not have to say on the matter. After all, no scientists, expert or god could ever convince me that I don't find it easier or more comfortable...because they would be wrong.
A little while later, and also after spending a bit of time with my paddle, another member of our small band of merry paddlers ordered himself a nice new VE paddle. He also got it in 0° offset but said that he would probably have been happier with a very low offset, maybe 12° or so, but since then seems to have forgotten that he uses 0° as he never mentions it and seems to be completely comfortable with it.

Having said all of the above, I don't consider myself to be taking part in any 'campaign', because it's a matter of 'horses for courses' and I simply use what's best for me and I don't really give a cr@p what anyone else uses, as long as it works for them and they are having fun on the water.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Simon Westgarth » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:22 pm

BurrsRunner wrote:Having said all of the above, I don't consider myself to be taking part in any 'campaign', because it's a matter of 'horses for courses' and I simply use what's best for me and I don't really give a cr@p what anyone else uses, as long as it works for them and they are having fun on the water.
I am happy to hear that you have found a solution to your injury problems. Still by going for a 0 feather paddle it does not overcome the issues of biomechanics highlighted above. It's likely that you adapt your paddling style to accommodate the 0 feather, and as such this may not be the best way to paddle, yet it works for you to solve your specific injury from your point of view. Issues with unusual biomechanics can often be the source is injuries too, and a foundation of poor technique.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:04 am

I understand the biomechanics point made by Nugz and Ian Dalloway above, but I think it's an illusion.

Suppose that rotating your body to the left causes your paddle to rotate so that the blade is best set on the shaft at 15 degrees. Assume that's 15 degreees in the direction where the top edgeof the left blade goes forward, compared to zero feather.

So, when you rotate to the right, symmetry suggests the same thing happens. You'll want the right blade set so that the top edge is 15 degrees forward. Unfortunately, the left blade being 15 degrees forward means the right blade is 15 degrees backwards. So it doesn't work, and the theory, however much you genuinely feel it happens, can't be right.

If you are comfortable paddling like that, why not, but there must be a different reason. My guess is that if you learn to paddle right feather, you'll have an automatic tendency to find it natural to have bit of paddle rotation built in to your trunk rotation. And if you learned with left, you'll have the same thing, but the opposite way.
If 'natural' feather exists, there's no reason for it to be left or right, so it doesn't exist.

My logic is that the boat, the water and most people are symmetrical. So we either need a symmetrical paddle, or an asymmetric (feathered) paddle with an asymmetric (control hand) paddling action.

Chris

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Simo » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:06 pm

Going to wade in with a potentially stupid idea, feel free to shoot me down...

How about a "free-feathering" paddle, i.e. one with a joint in the middle of the shaft which allows the blades to freely rotate independently of one another?

This would effectively mean each hand is the control hand for its respective blade, while the blade of the top hand can rotate freely allowing the wrist to remain at a neutral angle.

I guess the obvious drawback is the weight/strength penalty introduced by the joint in the paddle shaft. However, I reckon with clever design the weight wouldn't be too much greater than a pair of splits. Also the top hand could no longer help control the angle of the active blade in the water, but not sure how much of an issue that is if the lower hand is controlling it anyway.

So can I patent this idea and make millions, or did someone think of it already? If not, is it because it is horrendously flawed?

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Simon Westgarth » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:54 pm

A 5 minute play with your splits will make the matter a lot clearer. When set a zero feather, at the start of a right paddle stroke during the catch of the stroke, the left wrist ends up being cocked, not unless you lift the elbow to make the wrist neutral. This modified style over several cycles feels strange, the path of the driving arm is more a curve than an arc, and as such a much less powerful stroke.

Some paddlers with zero feather may simply paddle with the cocked wrist happy with the power they generate, still I am pretty certain that few if any competitive racing paddlers have zero feather, to the reason its probably ineffective to gain the most potential power, and restricts the correct torso & upper back movement to do so.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Simon » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Simon Westgarth wrote:Some paddlers with zero feather may simply paddle with the cocked wrist happy with the power they generate, still I am pretty certain that few if any competitive racing paddlers have zero feather, to the reason its probably ineffective to gain the most potential power, and restricts the correct torso & upper back movement to do so.
Agreed Simon. One thing many paddlers forget is that the optimum feather changes with the boat, as does many other things.

Short playboats with a short waterline length need low feather (15 - 30 dgree optimum), a short paddle shaft and relatively small blade areas.

As the boat waterline length increases, then so does the feather, shaft length and blade area. I reckon creek-boats are best about 30 - 45 degrees and competition boats a bit above that.

The guys here who sing the praises of zero feathers probably paddle short boats, so a zero feather is so close to the optimum it is not worth arguing about. But in a big creeker or similar, paddling a lot of hours a day, the zero feathers are certainly not the way to go.

Simon

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by davebrads » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:44 am

Simon wrote:
Simon Westgarth wrote:The guys here who sing the praises of zero feathers probably paddle short boats, so a zero feather is so close to the optimum it is not worth arguing about. But in a big creeker or similar, paddling a lot of hours a day, the zero feathers are certainly not the way to go.

Simon
I agree with what you are saying, but it must be pointed out that Chris Bolton is mostly a Sea Kayaker these days.
it's not a playboat, it's a river runner

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Glyn B » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:10 am

[My logic is that the boat, the water and most people are symmetrical. So we either need a symmetrical paddle, or an asymmetric (feathered) paddle with an asymmetric (control hand) paddling action.
Well said Chris.

If you use cranks, feather makes even less sense.
Last edited by Glyn B on Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:10 am

it must be pointed out that Chris Bolton is mostly a Sea Kayaker these days
... and all his river and competition paddling since about 1987 has been done in C1.

I'll need to find a video clip of me paddling my sea kayak without bent wrists or feather.

Chris

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Simon » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:30 am

Chris Bolton wrote:
it must be pointed out that Chris Bolton is mostly a Sea Kayaker these days
... and all his river and competition paddling since about 1987 has been done in C1.

I'll need to find a video clip of me paddling my sea kayak without bent wrists or feather.

Chris
Interesting Chris, I did not know that but it would be good to see it.

My own theories are based on research I did about 20 years back. In those days the BCU was still trying to coach recreational plastic boat paddlers with techniques derived from competition, arguing that a slalom or sprint K1 paddling style was the best classical style and should be used for ALL boats. An argument which ignored the fact that as boats got shorter and shorter the classical style got less and less appropriate. So I spent a lot of time trying to find out what were the best paddling styles and techniques for those short plastic playboats. My arguments that we should be studying Dave Manby and Greenslime for examples of good paddling action did not seem to be appreciated.

Here are two articles I wrote about forward paddling. The contrast is between continuous, high speed, long boat competition paddling, and short boat, spring drift, recreation. The intermediate WW tourers (like the old KW7) do not exist nowadays, which is sad.

Article 1 page 1 http://www.simondawson.com/kcc1a.jpg
Article 1 page 2 http://www.simondawson.com/kcc1b.jpg
Article 2 page 1 http://www.simondawson.com/kcc2a.jpg
Article 2 page 2 http://www.simondawson.com/kcc2b.jpg

I suspect that your sea kayak is the exception that proves the rule. It may be a long boat, but you have developed the recreational paddlers sprint/drift style (low, laid back paddle style for efficient long distance cruising, with short periods of high speed power round a headland). And if If you were to plot your long distance cruising paddle geometry on the figures in page 1 I suspect it would be quite low - hence a low feather.

Best wishes

Simon

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Steve B » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:45 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:My logic is that the boat, the water and most people are symmetrical.
But paddling is not a symmetrical activity because there is only one control hand. That changes everything.

There is no single 'neutral' angle (i.e. such that zero wrist roll required), but there a couple of general statements which can be made:

1) Lower paddling styles require less feather and higher paddling styles require more feather. This is easy to visualise - if you raise your control arm from resting beside the deck (= low style) to in front of your face (= high style), your forearm rotates round the paddle axis by something like 60 or 70 degrees. This is inevitably transmitted to the blade at the other end of the paddle, plus or minus whatever you do with your wrist.

2) Compensating for too much feather requires rolling the wrist back which is bad if excessive; compensating for too little feather requires rolling the wrist forward which is biomechanically MUCH worse - though you can also compensate by alternately lifting the elbows.

Once you grasp this, it all starts to make sense. Sea paddlers are very happy with zero feather (flat paddling style). Traditional slalom paddlers can use large feather angles (very high style). Most of us find somewhere in between to be 'neutral'. And to go back to the opening point, because there is almost no roll in a very low paddling style, there is little or no difference between the nominal 'control' hand and the other. In other words a low paddling style is almost symmetrical.
Steve Balcombe

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Re: Zero Feather Paddles Campaign

Post by Glyn B » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:34 am

Repeating the same argument doesn't make it true.

Feathered paddle means you have one control hand.

Zero means both hands are in control.

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