Steering blade shapes: Tahitian vs "regular"

More and more paddle companies (at least, that sell on the Internet) are offering "Tahitian" style steering blades for V6/OC6 with taller (?), skinnier, lozenge-shaped blades. For folks who use or have used them: how are they similar to and different from more traditional (well, for the last 25 years anyway) steering blades, such as the Foti and Biscuit (Kialoa), or Ahi and Aku (Kai Ko'o)?


Submitted by Nathan Day on Wed, 11/07/2018 - 5:14am

Being that the blade is acting like a rudder when steering, a longer narrower blade is a more effective aspect ratio so it should create less drag when steering. I would imagine that there is some limit as to the length, when it begins to interfere with paddling...

#1 Fri, 01/18/2019 - 8:03pm

I went through the same transition as you. I've been paddling for 16 years and steering for about 12. I steered with the Biscuit for about 8 years. After taking some time off to be a dad (as if that has stopped!), I came back and all the new Tahitian steering blades were out. I "upgraded" to the Hawaiki 3 years ago and the difference in feel was pretty noticeable...for me, at least. (So take my impressions with a grain of salt)

The length of the Hawaiki took some getting used to in terms of how the blade "handled" (i.e. transitioning between poke-to-paddle, paddle-to-poke, changing sides, or continuous paddling). That said, once I got used to it, I have found it paddles amazingly well. I feel like it "loads up" quickly, or has a great catch...probably because of all the surface area? My thought is the narrow width of the blade (at 9") may be the primary factor in this regard. I do need to be very purposeful about burying the entire blade before I drive...and as I've mentioned, it is a long blade.

In terms of steering, I tend to make corrections off the hull...poke...BUT, what I do like about the Hawaiki is that the rounded blade tip seems to offer more finesse in the effect of the poke. A shallow poke exposes a rounded "rudder" and allows corrections with minimal drag. A deep poke brings the entire blade face to bear on the hull and correct with much more leverage...which would be obvious...but the Hawaiki feels like it "rudders" with less drag. When I compared the blade thicknesses between my Hawaiki and Biscuit...the Hawaiki is noticeably thinner. Perhaps that helps? Perhaps it's the aspect ratio that @surfenterprises mentioned above?

Overall, the "finesse" of the poke that feels unique to the Tahitian style steering blades. It seems easier to modulate the amount of rudder vs drag? I forgot to mention that I did also pick up a Marere steering blade as well. Between both of those blades, the feel is similar. I'm not a champion paddler by any means...but those are my impressions after having switched from the old to new "style" steering blades.

#2 Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:53am

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