Paddle Width

I'm relatively new to paddling and I paddle both outrigger and marathon boats. Most marathon paddlers use a blade width around 8 1/4" and I've noticed that outrigger paddlers use blades exceeding 9" in most cases. I'm curious if anyone out there has some insight into the advantages of using such large blade widths for OC-1. Might be a dumb question but I thought I would ask it anyway.

Submitted by frosso on Fri, 02/10/2006 - 11:39am



Actually, that's a very good question.

I have no clue but venture to guess that blade width and length affect the amount of force a paddler can effectively exert on a blade, the result of which moves the canoe foreward. Assuming mass to be constant, as the width and length of the blade increases, the amount of force required to move the blade through the water at a constant speed increases since a greater amount of water needs to be moved. Whether the increase is arithmetic or geometric is an unknown to me. Since the law of physics provides that for every action, there is a reaction (or something like that), if a paddler uses a "larger" paddle and can move the paddle through the water at the same speed as with a smaller paddle, the canoe will have greater acceleration (hypothetically) through the water (i.e., F=ma, where F=Force, m=Mass, a=acceleration).

Given the difference in strength and condition among paddlers, I would also venture to say that each paddler has a given optimal paddle size, hence the demand for different size paddles.

Now, given that I received my Masters Degree in Physics from A&E University after completing 5 year program at the College of Spike TV, I wouldn't put too much credence into what I've said.


#1 Fri, 02/10/2006 - 1:59pm


I think it might be because marathon paddlers use a stroke rate around 70 strokes per minute. It seems like the oc-1 stroke rate is much slower, below 60. Higher stroke rate means smaller blade width is much more efficient. On oc-1 I think the slower rate with a wider blade works better than busting out 70 strokes per minute with a skinny blade


#2 Fri, 02/10/2006 - 3:53pm


For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction ....... as witnessed by some of the treads lately here.

Its all about ergonomic efficiency ..... if you cannot spin that big ring all day or drive the car in 5th in town you gear down a bit. Same with boats, put a giant paddle in a smaller ( sorry, less strong) persons hands and they will not be able to turn it over @ a rate where lungs and muscles balance for a much distance. Might be able to wring out an extra couple 10ths @ the top end but they might not have anything left after being sucked dry from the overly large blade. The Marathon guys are doing long distances and keep the paddle smaller so as to lessen the cumulative effect of stresses. Get the paddle that you can easiest keep turning over for your most efficient H.R. at race pace or intended use.

This situation is often seen in the kayak ( non-ski) world where the boats hit the wall speed wise long before the full potential of the available power in the paddle is reached. Fat boats require skinnier wings. Mass market has not figured it out yet and continues to use Wing paddles far larger than ness.

Hey Rock 105 ..... come up with a local TT course yet ??? Why not ask around Sat Mornings ? Any thoughts yourself ??? Just wondering.


#3 Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:58pm


Thanks onnopaddle, snarfblat & rock105. All those answers made sense. Especially "fat boats require a skinnier wings". I've been thinking about buying a "real" outrigger blade since I've been paddling OC-1 with my marathon blade. Something new to experiment with this season. :-)


#4 Mon, 02/13/2006 - 3:35am


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