Large blade area paddles.

What are paddles' experiences like with large blades (>10 inches wide)?
Has anyone had any injuries that they would attribute to using larger blades? Could the injury have been prevented with better technique?
Do you (or would you consider) use larger blades in long distance races?

I am 6ft 1in, 190lbs, and fairly strong. I'd primarily be using the paddle for OC6. I'm confident I could handle a 10.25in or so blade, but I'm looking for other paddlers' experiences before I buy one. I'm currently using a 9.5in hybrid, without any 'issues'. The 10.25in would also be a hybrid.

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Submitted by canadaAM on Mon, 04/16/2012 - 8:39am

Not sure what the theory is nowdays, but it used to be that everyone tried to have the same paddle for oc6. Maybe different size blades is good idea though, right? Different blade sizes for different guys. I am 100% sure however, that matching shorts makes every crew go faster.

#1 Mon, 04/16/2012 - 11:04am

Blade size matters, but its only one of many variables determining how and when each guy transmits force into the hull of the canoe. Assume six paddlers identical stroke and strength. A guy with a bigger paddle will be pulling the canoe against a firmer anchor and thus it will make him a little slower through the water than the rest.

Theoretically, a larger stronger paddler could pull the canoe a little bit harder than his weaker teammates, if he had a larger anchor with less slip with which to pull against. However ask any coach and they will tell you if you have one guy who's pulling significantly harder than the others, it almost never goes smoothly, instead what happens is you get a "bump" in the powerband which wrecks the glide of the canoe, slowing it down.

In reality the variables in each guy's technique are going to have a bigger effect on the canoe's powerband than blade size will. Look any any crew, even the top ones here in Hawaii and you will see some guys nailing the catch at the front, and other guys pulling the blade back prematurely, before they set the anchor.

#2 Mon, 04/16/2012 - 12:01pm

big blades for sprinting, smaller blades for endurance. then it's all about technique and blending.

#3 Thu, 04/19/2012 - 8:19pm

Depends on conditioning. Check out the size of the paddles the Tahitian crews have used in the past. Do not seem to have any trouble swinging large blades at fast rates over long distances. But then again it is assured that they are beyond the norm.

#4 Sat, 04/21/2012 - 7:55am


I have found that my joints and tendons don't last very long with big blades in the spec 6man. We all have unique anatomy so don't take this at face value. My experience is that I paddle my best when I am most comfortable and focused. Imagine you are able to contribute your best strokes with confidence and in good form when you are comfortable and healthy. Conversely if you are causing yourself pain and possibly damaging your body you are less able to focus on your blending, technique, application of power, feeling the canoe glide etc.

If a bigger blade seems uncomfortable maybe it is possible for you to train and adjust to meet the demands of said bigger blade. Remember that your health is most important because the team needs you for the whole season. Take it at your own pace in the ealry preseason practice stages when adjusting to a new paddle. This is a more appropriate time for you to make such an adjustment.

My point is keep it simple and listen to your body.

#5 Sat, 04/21/2012 - 12:06pm

@ canadaAM

Poi, Fluid and Gaucho are absolutely right, and if you paddle for any length of time, you'll tend to collect a bunch o' paddles for different canoes and applications. ( I know I have a quiver full....)

send me a PM or email at the website below. - I'd be happy to let you demo something to help you in making a decsion.

Open Ocean Outriggers
Vancouver, BC

#6 Mon, 04/23/2012 - 11:10am

I've used a bigger blade in a spec boat while my fellow paddlers were using the regular size blade. My transition through the water was noticably slower than the rest of the guys. I felt way off and I was way off. I think it is fairly important for all the guys in a 6 man to have the same size blades (paddle face). This is espicially true if you are going to be in a change race. Nobody wants to have to recalibrate their stroke each time they switch in and out of this position.

I bet Pat or Ryan or some HCKT guys would have the best answer. Dolan, what does your coach say about blade size in one of your two person or 4 person kayaks?

#7 Tue, 04/24/2012 - 11:21am

you guys know if Kialoa makes a double bend version of the Lanikai shape? that would be sweet

#8 Tue, 04/24/2012 - 1:38pm

Ever since I got my Tahiti Rames...I was hooked on larger area paddles. The last paddle was a Makana Alii 10.5 rice paddle which I really like. Just started using a Viper va'a which is really similar to the Rames but lighter and and much thinnner carbon fiber covered blade (hybrid). Great thing was I was able to buy it in stock without waiting months and the dealer on Kauai was awesome.. If someone is interested in using a high quality full blade 10.5 or 9.75 tahitian style- check out Viper Va'a made on Raiatea. Worth looking into. The dealer is located in Lihue.

#9 Fri, 04/27/2012 - 3:06pm

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