What degree WW paddle

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Lewisthewhippet1
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What degree WW paddle

Post by Lewisthewhippet1 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:15 pm

I currently looking to buy a different whitewater paddle. I currently have a Werner 194 powerhouse but am finding the blade size a bit too big. So I am now wanting to change to a cranked handle paddle. I am thinking of going for 197 be creeper blades,but Should I stick with 45 degree feather or 30degree. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Ian Dallaway » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:55 am

Hi,
If you find the Powerhouse blade on a 194 shaft too big, than going to a longer shaft will make the blade feel even bigger. Have you considered the Werner Sherpa? Similar shape to the Powerhouse but slightly smaller surface area. In terms of feather angle, there is very little difference between 45 or 30 and you would soon get used to either. The best suggestion here is that if you have 2 paddles (one as a spare), have them as interchangeable as possible - ie. the same feather.

I daresay people on here will argue that zero feather is the way forward. It may be ok for certain disciplines but I don't believe river paddling is one of them. A simple search on this forum will find many threads on the subject. Have a look at what slalom paddlers use - they paddle whitewater and are very proficient at it - and don't use zero feather.

Cranks - there is no real advantage over a straight shaft to be honest. Lots of paddlers have them on the assumption that as they are more expensive, they are therefore 'better'. There are some minor benefits around wrist alignment, however straight shafts are normally stronger and probably more suitable as a whitewater paddle for the majority of us.

This is all a very emotive subject and you will get lots of opinions on what is best for you. I suggest you try to seek advice from someone with experience (maybe a coach) who can actually watch you paddle.

Good luck
Ian

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davebrads
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by davebrads » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:59 am

Years ago the theory was that you had 90 degree feather to reduce resistance to wind when the top blade is moving through the air. Few people adhere to this any longer, but there is still a reason to feather the blades, the paddle shaft rotates as you switch between sides of the boat and the feather allows you to maintain the same grip with your control hand without having to bend your wrist too much. The higher you raise your top hand the more it will rotate and for a near vertical stroke this will be somewhere around 45 degrees. For this reason most slalom paddlers use a feather angle near to 45 degrees, some can get quite anal about the exact angle but I don't really think it makes a lot of difference. The thing is every stroke you take will be slightly different and so the feather angle will always be an approximation. Most WW paddlers have a less than vertical stroke most of the time, so it makes sense to use a lower feather, and 30 degrees seems to be very popular. I personally like 45 degrees as a higher angle will tend to promote a higher more aggressive paddling style. I think that it doesn't make a lot of difference which you choose to be honest, but if you change to 30 degrees I am sure it won't take you long to get used to it.
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Jim
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:55 am

Something I am seeing more and more in racing circles, is split paddles with adjustable length and feather.

Initially I put this down to the fact that there are so many kids in slalom and parents like to maximise their investment in kit, but it isn't just kids and isn't just slalom, most wildwater racers are adults and most of them appear to be using splits too - I am myself now!
Paddling WWR with wing paddles I find that I set the left blade properly with somewhere around 50 degrees of feather - I am not analytical enough to narrow it down further but one of my friends uses something like 56 degrees because she found it gave her the most reliable set. I think this is quite a personal thing and probably depends on the exact mechanics of our strokes, for me at 60 degrees I was definitely under or over rotating the left blade and it would often flutter or slice instead of setting - I still get that sometimes so may not be on the perfect feather for myself yet, or it may be that as my stroke evolves I will need to chase the feather angle?

None of that was ever an issue for me in a plastic play boat or creek boat with 'flat' (i.e. curved or spooned, but not wing shaped) paddles, you don't get the same set you get with wings so the feather angle seems much less critical and anywhere from 30 - 60 seems to suit most people without really affecting their paddling at all. If you are concerned about it, make your next paddle a split with a variable clamp joint and experiment.

Another thing Ian picked up on - you seem uncertain what length suits you best? Most splits with adjustable feather also have 10cm of length adjustment
Again since getting split wings I have experimented a bit with this, my wings range from 205-215 (for creek or play boat with non-wings this would all be too long) and I feel happiest at 208. If I extend to 210 I really struggle to drive the blade into the water on the catch because it feels that much more powerful for just 2cm increase in length. Again you won't notice it on the catch with non-wing blades and because you aren't trying to paddle with the optimum amount of power (if flat blades are pushing back on the catch you really do have a lot more area than you need!), but it will make a difference to your comfort/fatigue long term.

Can you rely on a split paddle for running rivers?
Yes!
Ever since Lendal started with the Paddlok system which I started using in 2001 it has been possible to get split paddles which are as strong and reliable as a single piece paddle - I'm pretty sure every manufacturer now offers a clamp joint system on thier splits. You are unlikely to put as much load on the shaft as a racing paddler so strength and joint movement should not be a concern, I have used the Lendal system a lot on big volume water abroad and they feel exactly like a one piece paddle.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:40 pm

Get a broom handle, and mark off different coloured incraments around one end. and a single mark on the other end.

Sit on the floor and with the single marked end where the blade would be on your fixed hand, close your eyes and get paddling. Film the end with the coloured incraments on it and watch it back to see which one was where the blade naturally fell with your action.

That'll be where you feather sits.
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:32 pm

Trying to watch my blade entry today, I may still be under rotating the blade for the catch so may need to reduce feather some more, however conditions were not ideal for testing feather angles, it was more of a high wind survival session!

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Simon Westgarth » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:47 am

Recommended 45º feather or more.

When some paddlers use 30º feather or less, the opposite wrist is often not feathered. This means for a right handed paddlers, for some, their left wrist is locked in place and does not feather at all when making a right stroke. The effective power transfer is thus compromised. There is of course paddlers whom use less than 45º feather, yet those paddlers involved at the elite end of paddlesport like slalom, use 45º-60º feather.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:39 pm

I've been using 45 in WWR the last 2 days and don't seem to be over-rotating the left blade on the catch, will need longer term testing to find out if I am still under-rotating occasionally or not. Paddled slalom woth 60 as usual tonight, never even thought about the difference, it is much less critical with ordinary blades than with wings.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:38 pm

Simon's comment about feathering the left wrist provoked some thought and some off forum discussion. Still can't quite visualise what he means by feathering the wrist, I always left the shaft slip through my left hand so I don't need to rotate the wrist and fixing the left hand would surely be quite uncomfortable as it would have to rotate forwards during a right stroke?

Anyway, uncertainty as to whether I roll my wrists backwards or forwards for each stroke caused me to try to watch them for the first couple of minutes of todays little training paddle, and I finally fully understood exactly what Dave Bradshaw (and others in the past) has decribed!
I don't roll either wrist backwards or forwards for strokes, during the stroke both top and bottom hands have a natural relaxed/neutral position (i.e. the centrline of the shaft is dircectly in front of the centreline of my arm, albeit they are perpendicular to each other), for strokes on both sides.
But hang on - I have rotated the shaft 45 degrees through my left hand between strokes, so how can they both be in the neutral position for strokes on both sides?

Because, unlike what I was taught years ago when paddling with 90 degree paddles the rotation does not come from the wrist!
From the blade exit position of a stroke you have to lift your elbow from next to your abdomen to next to your head, and as you do this you rotate the arm from the shoulder and this is where the shaft ends up rotating 45 degrees before you plant the next stroke. The right wrist (in the case of a righty) stays in the neutral position throughout, the left wrist, if you grip loosely and let the shaft rotate in it, also stays in the neutral position - if you try to grip it hard, it will be rotated forwards between a right and left stroke.
Remember you have 2 arms and wrists as; one goes up, the other comes down but not as far. I think if you look at the rotation from the right shoulder, you would see it is more than 45 degrees, but to drop the left hand to the catch postion simultaneously the left shoulder rotates but a different amount, so it is a 45 degree difference in these rotations that causes the paddle to rotate, or feather. Obviously the higher you lift your elbows for the catch, the bigger angle your shoulder rotates through (the opposite shoulder rotates much less because that elbow doesn't drop as much).

It would be easier to explain with a video and drawing lines/circles of how each hand/shoulder moves between strokes!

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:01 pm

Wow - facebook almost delivers exactly what I was thinking of, even though I wasn't looking for it!

This is a video from a technical training session, the paddler will have reviewed it to iron out some issues (her left and right strokes are different) but don't worry too much about that, in fact most WW paddlers will probably be doing something more like her left stroke than her right.
The point is to watch what happens to her arms/hands and the paddle between the exit and the next catch - the top arm dips a little, the bottom arm rises a lot to become the new top hand, and both arms rotate from the shoulder, but by different amounts. During the pull phase the bottom arm is driven down and back by trunk rotation not shoulder rotation which is how it gets to the position where it needs a lot more rotation to get back to the top again despite only being rotated a little bit before the stroke.

It doesn't matter whether you are doing a high racing stroke with straight arms, or a lower stroke with bent arms, it is the act of lifting the bottom arm back to the top, which causes rotation from the shoulder which makes the paddle feather, not a forward and backward rotation of the wrist (unless you are still paddling with 90 feather!)


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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by DaveBland » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:55 pm

Blimey Jim, that's detailed!

So I've noticed similar to you, having thought I relaxed my grip on my non permanent hand [right for me as I paddle leftie], but you are right – while I do relax the grip it's on the push of the stroke when it's the upper arm – the actual grip placement doesn't change.

You are right again, it's the combination of all the elements, shoulder rotation, elbows moving out etc that makes up the majority of the feather twist.

but... there is some wrist 'cocking'. Not a lot, but maybe 20 degrees? I reckon it's about half and half with wrist and the other stuff that makes a 45 degree movement.
dave

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:44 pm

DaveBland wrote:That'll be where you feather sits
It will be, but it will be strongly influenced by what feather you're used to paddling with already, not your 'natural' feather.
davebrads wrote:the feather allows you to maintain the same grip with your control hand without having to bend your wrist too much
I'm not trying to re-open the debate, but I think I now understand what you mean; I don't disagree that that effect is true. But it only applies if you maintain a constant grip with one predetermined 'control hand'. No feather is required if you grip [= control shaft rotation] with whichever hand is necessary to keep a straight pull/push and keep the blade angle as required - which hand that is will vary through the stroke and at times you may just hold the paddle with two 'non-control' hands. If you use an unfeathered paddle while maintaining the concept of a control hand then you will stress your wrists and paddle inefficiently.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:49 pm

Chris - this makes sense, but I don't think I will ever be able to disengage from the concept of keeping one had fixed so that I always know that I have the paddle positioned right. You seem to be suggesting that you let the shaft rotate through both hands alternately, that would take a lot of re-learning and I'm not sure I see the benefit, at least not in WW paddling where you might need a snap reactionary stroke.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Ian Dallaway » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:52 am

Jim wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:38 pm
From the blade exit position of a stroke you have to lift your elbow from next to your abdomen to next to your head, and as you do this you rotate the arm from the shoulder and this is where the shaft ends up rotating 45 degrees before you plant the next stroke. The right wrist (in the case of a righty) stays in the neutral position throughout, the left wrist, if you grip loosely and let the shaft rotate in it, also stays in the neutral position - if you try to grip it hard, it will be rotated forwards between a right and left stroke.
Hi Jim, very detailed and very impressive!
Over the years the popular feather angle has reduced, from 90 to 80, to 60, to 45, to 30..... It has almost become a fashion thing.
I've experimented with how the different feather angles affect the efficiency, catch etc. for MY paddling. My conclusions pretty much match exactly what you have stated.
45 degrees seems to be spot on for me. It gives me near perfect wrist alignment and fairly high top arm (high paddle angle to the water). It feels very efficient.

I daresay that there will be some varieties in the ideal angle (say + - 15 degrees) for most paddlers, as we all come in different shapes and sizes and we have all adopted a slightly different 'efficient' paddling style - and it will probably be based on the length and feather of the paddle we normally use. Obviously boat type, environment and discipline have an influence here too.

Great topic!

Ian
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Simon Westgarth » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:19 am

Jim wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:38 pm
Simon's comment about feathering the left wrist provoked some thought and some off forum discussion. Still can't quite visualise what he means by feathering the wrist, I always left the shaft slip through my left hand so I don't need to rotate the wrist and fixing the left hand would surely be quite uncomfortable as it would have to rotate forwards during a right stroke?
Simply hold the your left hand on the paddle as if you are going to do a left stroke, and then do not feather the paddle to do a right stroke. In effective hold the grip locked onto the paddle shaft. On a paddle shaft 30º or less, it is possible, with 45º or more it is not. I first noticed this odd situation with paddlers using 20-30º feather angle on Seven2 and H2O paddles, where he rubber grips made feathering the wrist less fluid.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by davebrads » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:51 am

I think I know what you mean, I think the difficulty I am having comes from a difference of understanding the meaning of the term "feather". I have always thought that to feather the blade was to adjust the angle of the blade in the water by rotating the shaft in the control hand which is achieved by flexing the wrist of the control hand. You seem to be using the term feather to mean allowing the shaft to rotate through the non-control hand?

If so I know exactly what you mean, and I have had kids persevering with not releasing their grip even with 45 degree feather paddles! It looks very awkward and is certainly not efficient. Of course this is one of the key advantages claimed by advocates of zero-degree paddles - you don't need to learn how to release the grip in the non-control hand. I happen to disagree because I think that still leaves the problem of both wrists having to flex through 45 degrees in order to compensate for the natural rotation of the paddle shaft between strokes, and 45 degrees seems to be close to the full range of movement of my wrists at least!

One thing that I can't understand, and maybe you or Jim with his analytical mind can solve for me, is that when you use cranks you seem to need less feather angle between the blades. I don't use cranks myself on the basis that I don't have any problems with the issues that they are supposed to resolve, and I am not going to pay £100 extra for a pair of paddles without good reason, but I played about a bit when setting up a pair of cranks for my daughter a few years ago and I ended up with an optimum of somewhere around 20 degrees, and this was on a pair of slalom paddles.
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:36 am

I've never noticed that with cranks, all of mine are set to 60 degrees because that's the feather angle I chose nearly 20 years ago, I have only just started revisiting this with wing paddles on straight shafts. Perhaps not having to turn the wrists inwards slightly alters pre-rotation along the arm?

I definitely do feel a difference in my wrists paddling straight or crank which is exacerbated by latex wrist seals, which is why particularly when using straight shaft wings I will take every opportunity to wear my shorty cag even in the middle of winter! I was also finding it sore playing polo with a straight shaft and committed the herecy of moving my polo blades to a cranked shaft - I can't remember if matches were a problem, but at the time we were doing 2 hour training sessions (which was too much) on the canal in all weather, but mostly without a cag. Can't find time for polo training any more, and didn't glue the blades in well enough (wrong glue) - in a tournament early last year I let a goal in because the shot moved the blade round 45 degrees (it was impossible to paddle with, I managed to borrow a paddle at half time because we didn't have a sub), I don't think I have re-glued it yet (I do have the right glue now)...

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Chris Bolton » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:52 am

I think that still leaves the problem of both wrists having to flex through 45 degrees in order to compensate for the natural rotation of the paddle shaft between strokes
If you grip with both hands, then your wrists do have to flex. I think (but will need to test next time I'm paddling a kayak) that it's the 'new' top hand that causes the rotation, so at that point in the stroke you relax your grip with that hand. My perception (using a zero feather paddle) is that I hold the paddle (my hands enclose the shaft) but I don't grip it, and the blade just lands in the water ready for the stroke. I certainly do not consciously bend my wrists at all. The only reason I can see for needing to bend your wrists at all is if you have the blades set at different angles!

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:26 pm

Hmm...Ive got a feeling it depends on how much torso rotation the paddler uses. Zero feather needs more if wrists are not flexed.
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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:07 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:26 pm
Hmm...Ive got a feeling it depends on how much torso rotation the paddler uses. Zero feather needs more if wrists are not flexed.
You would be hard pushed to use too much torso rotation...

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Dan Yates. » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:59 pm

For whitewater (unless you are a midget, a behemoth or an idiot) use 45 degree 200cm paddles.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Franky » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:27 pm

I hate to rise to the provocation of the previous post, but if no one responds to it, the OP might end up getting the wrong paddle.

My own paddle is 197 cm and I borrowed a 200 cm paddle on holiday last year. I didn't get on with it at all. I'm not a midget or an idiot.

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by twopigs » Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:53 pm

Franky wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:27 pm
I hate to rise to the provocation of the previous post, but if no one responds to it, the OP might end up getting the wrong paddle.
Plus one ....

Try before you buy - and get one that suits your body size, your boat shape ..... I have a friend who is a good 10 cm shorter than I am and not as wide across the shoulders, but they have a long body and short legs so use the same length paddle as me!
Canoeing - bigger boat, broken paddle, more skill!

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:01 pm

Zero feather needs more [rotation]if wrists are not flexed
Why do you say that? I can see that with feather, when taking a stroke on your non-control side, your control wrist will be flexed back, potentially moving the plant a cm or two forward, but only if it's done by moving your hand back rather than pushing your elbow forward. On your control side, it's the same with feather or zero. But I can't actually visualise how or why you'd want to flex your wrists with a zero feather paddle.

Edit - Simon in the post below also mentions an effect on rotation. I can't say it doesn't happen (because I don't understand it) but I'd be interested to know what the mechanism is. I don't feel it creates any limitation on my rotation using zero, but I'm not an elite paddler

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Re: What degree WW paddle

Post by Simon Westgarth » Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:09 pm

davebrads wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:51 am
I think I know what you mean, I think the difficulty I am having comes from a difference of understanding the meaning of the term "feather". I have always thought that to feather the blade was to adjust the angle of the blade in the water by rotating the shaft in the control hand which is achieved by flexing the wrist of the control hand. You seem to be using the term feather to mean allowing the shaft to rotate through the non-control hand?
Yes, your last statement is precisely what I mean, thank you.
davebrads wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:51 am
One thing that I can't understand, and maybe you or Jim with his analytical mind can solve for me, is that when you use cranks you seem to need less feather angle between the blades. I don't use cranks myself on the basis that I don't have any problems with the issues that they are supposed to resolve, and I am not going to pay £100 extra for a pair of paddles without good reason, but I played about a bit when setting up a pair of cranks for my daughter a few years ago and I ended up with an optimum of somewhere around 20 degrees, and this was on a pair of slalom paddles.
I have recently started to use a straight shaft again after 20 years of crank shaft. Mainly because I did not think it is a significant difference and I'd like to use a 203cm, yet Werner's crank shaft at that length has a wider stance on the grip, which I felt was not so nice, although their 200cm crank shaft is good for myself. One upside is the straight shaft is lighter than the crank shaft set up.

I have not found any marked need for a different feather angle between my crank shaft and straight shaft set up. This may differ though across different crank shaft manufacturers.
Chris Bolton wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:52 am
I think that still leaves the problem of both wrists having to flex through 45 degrees in order to compensate for the natural rotation of the paddle shaft between strokes
If you grip with both hands, then your wrists do have to flex. I think (but will need to test next time I'm paddling a kayak) that it's the 'new' top hand that causes the rotation, so at that point in the stroke you relax your grip with that hand. My perception (using a zero feather paddle) is that I hold the paddle (my hands enclose the shaft) but I don't grip it, and the blade just lands in the water ready for the stroke. I certainly do not consciously bend my wrists at all. The only reason I can see for needing to bend your wrists at all is if you have the blades set at different angles!


There is a fair amount of evidence from what elite racers do, that suggests zero feather or near to zero is not popular. My thoughts on this is that the zero feather tends to bring out less trunk rotation in the paddler, this might be because zero feather is more popular with freestylers, whose forward paddling does not need to be that power effective for park and play locations. I have played around with my split paddle which I can set up with a zero feather, and again their is less need to rotate for the catch of the paddle stroke.

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