Friday, April 15, 2011

What's the Deal with Bent Shaft Paddles?

The idea behind the design of the BENT SHAFT PADDLE is that the blade of the paddle stays perpendicular to the water longer than a straight shaft does. This is true through the entire paddle stroke.

Paddling with a blade that is less than perpendicular to the surface of the water causes you to slip. This immediately strips power from your stroke. It is true that an experienced and well-trained paddler can maintain a perpendicular stroke with a straight shaft paddle, however most paddlers do not have the experience to do this. The solution: Let the paddle do most of the work for you! Pick up a straight shaft paddle and do a sample stroke with it. At best, you'll see the blade remains perpendicular for about a quarter of the stroke (that means you're wasting 75% of your stroke, or worse, actually slowing yourself down).

Try the same sample stroke with the BENT SHAFT. It remains perpendicular for the whole stroke. Try this while sitting on a garden bench or coffee table. You'll see right away the benefits of doing less work with each stroke: you use less energy, which means you can go farther and recover faster! Straight shaft paddles have many advantages in whitewater situations and for freestyle paddling, but for flatwater canoe tripping, the BENT SHAFT is the workhorse that will make your trip more enjoyable!

Cliff Jacobson says this in his Book Expedition Canoeing "If you want to go fast and maximize your energy flow, get a bent-shaft paddle. There's hardly an accomplished canoeist today who doesn't own at least one.

Straight paddles waste energy because they lift water at the end of the stroke and slow the canoe. Bent paddles push water almost straight back and convert nearly all the thrust to energy. Bent blades are easier on your body, too: Users often report that they no longer get "paddler's elbow" (tennis elbow) and "sleeping hand" (tingling fingers) after long hours afloat once they switch to bent blades.

The lighter the paddle, the better. Even an ounce or two makes a big difference over the long haul. Good wooden paddles weigh eighteen to twenty-four ounces-- half a pound lighter than most hardware-store sticks. If you think that's light, check out the ultralight graphite blades that weigh eight to fourteen ounces."

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