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Discussion: Paddle Choice?

in: Adventure Racing; General

Mar 7, 2011 11:17 PM # 
Now for the age old question......kayak paddle or canoe paddles for AR?
Mar 7, 2011 11:29 PM # 
I just stand up in the canoe, show the water my quads and it creates a current that blasts me along. That's just the way I roll.
Mar 7, 2011 11:33 PM # 
Kayak Kayak Kayak.
Quest for a Cure in the Ottawa-area used to always allow ONLY canoe paddles and it drove me nuts. Kayak paddles are faster, but more importantly they are cooler.
Mar 7, 2011 11:39 PM # 
As in should you allow kayak paddles while paddling canoes, or are you asking which is faster/more efficient?

If asking if they should be permitted (which I think you are), I think most will vote yes, since this has been the norm in the past, and allowing people to use equipment capable of improving progression along the course is typically permitted in AR (although there are many instances where this has been restricted, i.e. using sails/kites for canoes/kayaks). If you only allow canoe paddles, those with resource will want to use carbon fibre, bent shaft, which, if used properly will go just as fast as kayak paddles (although maybe not as efficiently). If your intention is to level the playing field, you'll need to supply identical paddles and boats. The supplied paddles typically end up being aluminium & plastic, which kinda suck to paddle with. Personally, I prefer events where equipment is supplied and is good for the job at hand (no inflatables, or wide/slow boats unless whitewater is involved). If it's mandated we need to use the supplied equipment, that's cool too, since I won't have to worry about purchasing and traveling with it.
Mar 7, 2011 11:52 PM # 
In all seriousness this is always a fun topic.

People generally do better with whatever they are more comfortable with. No surprise! Generally speaking I like a kayak paddle just because I find it less stressful on the body because the motion is more uniform and symmetric.

But if there is a strong crosswind in open water where you need to do a considerable j-stroke and / or draw stroke a canoe paddle seems to keep the power up a little more. I find a canoe paddle also navigates a river with some rapids as well. But, both of those situations could be favorable for me because I'm a bit more experienced with a canoe paddle.

What are people's thoughts on three in a canoe with respect to paddle choice? I find a canoe blade puts the middle person too far to one side... but at the same time a kayak paddle is hard to get a good purchase because of the reach over the rails!
Mar 8, 2011 2:04 AM # 
From a safety standpoint I think the chances of someone performing a low brace correctly is much higher with a kayak paddle than someone performing an offside brace with a canoe paddle. Adding to that its pretty rare to see a broken kayak paddle but I see broken canoe paddles all the time. Lastly, doesn't everyone already own a kayak paddle?
Mar 8, 2011 11:35 AM # 
For Race the Phantom we have supplied boats and gear for the past few years, but at the same time we have not told a team that they couldn't bring their own paddle gear. The only condition is that they may be required to carry it for the leg leading up to or following the paddle section.

This is how RTP will be again this year, you can bring it.....but you may have to carry it for awhile.
Mar 8, 2011 12:38 PM # 
JayXC... I broke my Kayak paddle 20 km into Ultimate XC last year!

NSAR... I got me a brand spankin' new five piece X-wing, shizzle fits in my pocket yo! Can't wait to see what the Phantom thinks of it.
Mar 8, 2011 1:27 PM # 
NSAR... I like that option as well. Sometimes it pays to use the outfitters gear, sometimes it doesn't. Especially when there's miserable, rhoto following the paddle leg.
Mar 8, 2011 1:43 PM # 
Convenience is nice for supplied paddle gear, but I hate the idea of levelling the playing field. We don't all use the same bikes or shoes, why use the same boats? Your success is due to the level of investment you make with training but also the gear you buy.
Mar 9, 2011 5:14 AM # 
O9Man said....."Convenience is nice for supplied paddle gear, but I hate the idea of levelling the playing field. We don't all use the same bikes or shoes, why use the same boats? Your success is due to the level of investment you make with training but also the gear you buy."

I agree with being able to bring your own equip. for local events, but not so much when traveling by air to events. Since airlines have cracked down on baggage weight, I quite like when events supply equipment & mandate it's use.
Mar 9, 2011 5:24 AM # 
True that equipment will always make a difference, but I don't like the idea that another team will do significantly better than ours simply because they didn't mind kicking another $1000 in. As an athlete without a car who moves around a lot, I really like supplied equipment as it means that I don't have to try to organize getting large objects to the race, try to find somewhere to store them in my wee apartment or have to store them when away.

Also true that I may be in a minority in my situation, but it also doesn't make events as attractive to newbies if they can't feel competitive without spending far too much on a sport they are just trying out.
Mar 9, 2011 2:50 PM # 
I think the competitive advantage between different boats is SO much huger than the difference between bikes. If you put getawaystix on a $400 bike and me on a $4500 bike, he's still going to blow me away (by a wide margin!) everytime. Do the same with boats though and the racer with the lighter, more aqua-dynamic boat is likely to win by a large margin everytime.
Mar 9, 2011 3:49 PM # 
The comparison works with boats and bikes. It's all about what's appropriate and what isn't. Someone on a 6" dual suspension all mountain rig will get shredded the same way someone would in a fat boat. But someone on a reasonable $400 hardtail will still hold their own, like they will with a budget canoe that has a decent length to width ration.

For travellers bringing a boat certainly isn't practical... or even possible. And depending on the local resources, having the RD arrange for a large rental for everyone is logistically the best way to go. But you can still bring your own paddles, your own pfds, and other gear... hell, bad pfds have been a huge source of discomfort in some cases! And for some events you can even arrange to beg borrow or steal your water craft there too; RD's choice depending on local resources.
Mar 9, 2011 5:34 PM # 
Carbon paddles and mountain bikes are my least favourite part of AR. That's probably just because I fantasize us as rugged, adaptable adventurers, and all that bling suggests we're more like yuppie gearheads with OCD. Anyway, whatever the RD's rule, I'm not likely to complain so long as it's clear and evenly enforced.

We've done a few casual-but-semi-controlled experiments with canoe and kayak paddles. Kayak has always been faster at a moderate effort level, even though we're better canoeists.
Mar 9, 2011 10:14 PM # 
I've always considered AR to be the one sport where being a weight weenie actually pays dividends!
Mar 9, 2011 11:49 PM # 
I'm a rugged, adaptable, yuppie, gearhead, weight weenie adventurer with OCD. That's OK, right? :) I know I could find you a bunch of other adventure racers with the same problem.
Mar 10, 2011 2:04 AM # 
I'm not one to judge, kettles and pots and glass houses and all. ;)

I'm not sure about those weight weenie dividends. Maybe that's because I've seen Nat mangle so many XTR derailleurs. Maybe it's because I'm in denial about how I deeply covet that 5 piece Xwing.
Mar 10, 2011 12:27 PM # 
The 5 piece X wing is glorious. I've been sleeping with it since Christmas. I put it in my briefcase every day, just because I can.

Strong, light and affordable... pick two. I rocked out with an XTR derailleur for the longest time without incident. I wonder if his Faze puts it out there or something; or maybe he needs to work on his technical riding!

Edit: Kelly... why are you Kelly and not Yertle?
Mar 10, 2011 7:54 PM # 
5 piece X wing - Recently most of the events I attend & now organize don't require people to carry personal paddles (although it looks like you may have to at RTP). I always thought that was a funny requirement of the RTN's, which spawned this bizarre market in Canada for 5-piece paddles. I can't ever recall having to carry personal paddles in international events.

I always found 5-piecce paddles more "lose" in their fittings and become more so over time. Having recently upgraded to a 2-piece Epic, I'm pretty impressed with the smoother feel & catch.

For team events, I like the "even playing field" argument for boats. But for solo events, where there's skill required to paddle a skinny boat, I think those with the skill should be allowed to gain the benefit. Similar to how a good technical mountain biker, or trail runner will make up time over rough terrain.
Mar 10, 2011 8:25 PM # 
It seems I've realized the benefit of a 4 pc Epic more times while packing it into a gear bag for traveling on a plane or for fitting 4 teammates worth of paddle gear into one paddle gear bag for a race than I have for stuffing it into my back pack while racing. In any event I'm always glad I bought it.
Mar 10, 2011 8:28 PM # 
We've had to carry paddles quite a few times here in the east. We did at Untamed NE in '09 too.

It's definitely a luxury item for the just in case scenario. My two piece only lost a couple of inches when I broke it, it may still work in a kayak since I bought it for canoe use.
Mar 10, 2011 11:50 PM # 
Agreed with gstix. I still have my original Descente 2-piece and wouldn't hesitate to train flatwater with it, and have used it in many AR's. The 4 and 5-piece stuff I've tried, is not enough of a solid paddle. So you end up sacrificing a good blade for portability.
Mar 11, 2011 2:08 AM # 
@ getawaystix - nope....paddles are supplied as are all required paddle gear, including boats. Anytime we have supplied boats for a race, we have supplied PFDs, bailers, and paddles.

Like in earlier can bring your own gear but you may have to carry it for the leg before or after the paddle leg. You won't have to carry it the whole race, but possibly for part of it.
Mar 11, 2011 4:57 PM # 
The paddles supplied at RTP, while convenient and functional, are not quite the fancy pants paddles of my dreams. Last year most of the "serious" teams opted to carry their own.

O9: I was Kelly because when I registered here, I more or less forgot to use an alias. So thanks!
Mar 11, 2011 5:04 PM # 
I didn't know it was you at first. That's much better. I don't like it when the real world collides with the online world. I'm so much cooler online, I don't want people to find that out!

I think I'd at least bring my own paddle to the race this coming year... once the maps are handed out and we have an idea of how long I'd have to deal with it.
Mar 11, 2011 6:11 PM # 
O9Man........good plan.
Mar 11, 2011 7:16 PM # 
Have I ever had a bad plan? Yea, once I suppose.
Apr 30, 2019 8:02 PM # 
Seeing as I am back in the market for a new paddle, I am slightly wondering if there is anything better than the epic wing? Truth I will probably buy another one, but there is a part of me that wonders if there is any other style I should look into. Happy to to hear any perspectives on this, thank you!
May 1, 2019 4:37 AM # 
FWIW, we attended a paddling clinic on Saturday with Olympic gold medal kayaker Adam Van Koeverden. When he was talking about paddles, he gestured toward our Epic paddles and said they were excellent although they might be too expensive for some paddlers. He mentioned a less costly brand that was pretty good but gave the impression that Epic would be first choice.
May 1, 2019 4:32 PM # 
W4J - thanks for resurrecting this old thread instead of starting a new one. Nice to see an NSAR appearance. Very Canadian thread!

JayXC - rhoto?
May 1, 2019 6:23 PM # 
Spell checker.

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