Paddle Size

I'm curious what size paddles people are using. I heard the trend is shorter paddles.

I am 5'10" and use a 50" or 51"

Could you list your height and paddle size? This is a completely curious unscientific study

Mahalo nui!

Submitted by kala808 on Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:43am

I also like a shorter paddle. Some say too short but its comfortable for me. Im 5'9 and I use a 47.

#1 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:44am

5'9". 51" in OC6, 50" in OC1.

#2 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 2:45am


52" in OC6 and OC1. Sometimes go down to a 51" in an OC1. In nine-man races you typically do not have a choice of paddles, what is there is there. So get used to the most common length's, which i believe are 52" and 51" for men.

#3 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 5:17am

There's some good stuff about this on Rambo's locker. I think Rambo says, contrary to popular belief, taller people need a shorter paddle than they think because of the greater reach. Eureka! Good thing I'm 5'10" (6'4" wingspan though-yes part monkey), so I don't have to make that decision. I use a 52" Kialoa Lanikai in all situations.

#4 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 5:58am

I`m with you on that one Jimbo, 52 " does the trick for me in all situations , blade size matters too .

#5 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 6:20am

If your ultimate goal is fitting in w/ a team, getting used to a 52" is a good idea. I think it's good for everyone to use the same paddle, pretty much. We have a 6'10", so we'll put a 53 in seat four in a change-out race.

#6 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 6:25am

All truth all the time from Jimbo ... :)

#7 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 6:27am

Like most paddlers w/ more than two years experience, I consider my self an expert on all things paddling and not paddling related.

#8 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 6:30am

We're all experts here, regardless of how much or how little we know.

#9 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 7:00am

Now take it another layer deeper ....

What width of blade face rocks the planet???

My tendency is smaller is better base on the duration of the race. I will use a small width paddle for a 8 hour race, a larger one for a 2 hour race, and wider for a 1 hour race. That theory applies for flatwater OC races and marathon canoe races. But if surfing then that theory goes completly out the window and I tend to like the larger width paddles, but still tend to increment up (wider) based on duration of race, etc.

Anyway, what say you?

#10 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 7:39am

6' 5"........53"/oc6.........52"/oc1

#11 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 8:33am

Thanks for all the feedback - in response to rflemer's question on paddle width, I use a 9 3/8 Kialoa for OC-6 and a large face 10" Tahitian paddle for OC-1

#12 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:18am

Width wise all my paddles are 9".

#13 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:25am

I can only wish that my paddler was 9' - 10' inches....yes, that paddle. So, just gotta settle for the standard 6'.

#14 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 10:12am

I have only been paddling for a short time. I am just a hair under 6ft but I have a troll build...long torso, short limbs. Right arm is 1 inch shorter than left. I have a hard time finding a car I can sit up straight in. The sales man is 6'5 and fits fine but my head is touching the headliner. So based on my height I got a 51. Everything felt wrong. lunging to get the paddle in the water but being a beginner I thought it was me. Got a 52, huge relief but paddling the left still felt wrong. I tried every twisting, bending manuver to get it right. 53...everything came together! Left side finally feel beautiful. I feel some power from the top hand. Fastest lap time, sitting more upright. I dont get the idea that you measure a paddle on your standing height. SITTING seems the only way to size a paddle. If I sit upright in a chair and measure to my nose 35 add 18 for the blade = 53. My top hand stays in front of my face, shoulders feel good.

#15 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 10:28am

You're going to fit right in here.

#16 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 10:35am

The Articles Jim was referring too.

Long and Short - you decide

Discussion about paddles

Cheers Rambo

#17 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:53pm

im 5'6 i use a 51 in OC6 49 to 51 in OC1 depends on conditions.. my blade is 9 1/2 but i make my own baldes so i use different shoulder style blades instead on reducing the width i just make lower and higer shoulders depends on what i want.. so to each his own just try different sizes and find whats comfortable for u .. aloha.. Danny..

website will be up this week end.

#18 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 3:56pm

rflemer, did you say eight hour races? Yikes! Which ones?

#19 Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:00pm


Yep ... 8-hour races. The dicipline is Marathon Canoe. The king of this style of racing is Serge Corbin (winner of a few Molokai Hoe's; Blazing paddles and Illinoies Brigade's teams). He's been on top of the marathon canoe (C1 and C2) circuit for more than 20 years. The upcoming C2 king is Andy Triebold. Calvin Hassle and Steve Rankinen are very successful in the C1. Just some names you may google. It would be great to have an allstar race for marathon and OC allstars (international too) to race in each venue to see how they stackup.

This weekend many East Coast Paddlers will be racing in the flatwater version of the Moloka'i Hoe; it's called "The General Clinton Canoe Regatta", or simply the "Clinton" ( Nappy did The Clinton two years ago with Gaylord Wilcox (2006). The race is a 70 mile race from Cooperstown, NY (baseball hall of fame location) to Bainbridge, NY. The way the crow flys it's probably 50 miles, but the way the river goes it's about 70 miles. I've done it two times; this will be my 3rd in three years. Click on "Monday" races and there are a few "pro" links (C1 and C2; C2 "Pro Class" is the premier event). There you will find the names of many elite players in the marathon canoe circuit.

In marathon races you will die if you use a 9" width paddle. 7" to 8" is quite normal in long races as this.

The Ausable is more like a 15 hour race (ie fuzeriders link). The race starts around 10 PM at night and goes throughout the wee hours of the morning until you finish around noon or later. You better have a good butt pad for that one!

#21 Thu, 05/22/2008 - 6:01am

I think it would be way harder to go from oc1 to marathon than vice-versa. The solo would seem like a walk in the park after a 70 mile flatwater event. Still, I bet Danny, Kai and others would be able to adapt pretty well in those marathon races.

#22 Thu, 05/22/2008 - 6:46am

I think the transition is tough either way you look at it (oc to Mar or mar to oc). Each dicipline has "skills" that the athlete must learn. In hawaii it's all about the surf, balance, waterman skills, etc. In the northeast USA is all about who has the best aerobic and anerobic system, balance, etc. Some skills are the same others are not. In Marathon we do have to sprint (like catching a wave but for longer duration) either to drop a competitior, or to catch a competitors wake, or to get into a shallow section first so you don't end up bottoming out on the river bed. we have no rudder so we paddle in as little as a few inches of water at times; it pays to be light in weight when the river is low, and to sprint to be the first one into a shallow section.

I spent three weeks HI this month. There were waves, wakes, dolphins, whales, etc. the locals were catching that I could not even see. Sure I may be relatively strong in the flat but its an example of a "skill" that most marathon paddlers will be highly deficient in unless they spend time doing it. Hmm, on second thought it could be argued that the more aerobic OC paddlers may be better in Marathon padling than Marathon paddlers in HI OC surf conditions. We may see bigger spreads at the finish line in OC races. Who knows ... just thinking out loud.

#23 Thu, 05/22/2008 - 7:48am

No doubt, surfing those bumps is a highly specialized skill. In the early days of oc1, I'd hear the Fotis and others talk about surfing downwind and for years I simply had no idea of what they were talking about. Ironically, the most oc1ing I've done has been here in Washington, and even on our little bumps I've developed a rudimentary understanding and feel for it. It really makes me appreciate what everyone is doing out there in the channel. The average speeds are simply unbelievable!

#24 Thu, 05/22/2008 - 2:53pm

I'm a 5"10" female. I have a 52" Kialoa Axel 2 for the OC6 and a 50" double bend smaller blade paddle for my OC1. I was using the 52" Kialoa Lolo on my OC1 and when I switched to the 50" it was heavenly, got more power and less fatigue that way. When using a 50" in the OC6 in a change out race, I find the shorter length hard on my shoulders and my hands feel too close together. I've been paddling less than 2 years and am still trying to dial in equipment and technique, but these are working for me right now.

#25 Tue, 05/27/2008 - 9:18am

I'm 5'10", elderly male. In OC6 Regatta and Distance, I'll normally sit in seat 1 and prefer a 52" Makana Alii with a 9 1/2" blade. In OC1, I use a 51" double bend Makana Alii with a slight scoop in the 9 1/2" blade. I absolutely love both of them.

#26 Wed, 05/28/2008 - 7:14am

I don't love my boat, but I love my paddle. 53 kialoa wacky shaft with a lanikai blade. It would be interesting to put the ZRE blade and palm grip on there...

#27 Wed, 05/28/2008 - 10:47am


Let's not give these young whipper-snappers any space to slip past us.

I'm a 5'10 1/2" young male who has seen five rotations of the Asian zodiac in my lifetime. (Year of the Rat)

Age and guile will prevail over youth and exuberance every time. Didn't you ever see any Lee Marvin movies?

Anything with a straight 51" shaft and a nice decal. Of course, as soon as you've invested in an expensive paddle they make you a steersman and its the time for a whole new investment.
"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publilius

#28 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 5:18am

You're right about the decal. Just like flame graphics make a canoe faster, the right decal makes the paddle.

#29 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 5:35am

An inspiring decal will take 3% off your time. It will inspire you to do your best like nose art on a B-25.

I have it documented somewhere here...Scientific American?

"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publilius

#30 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 11:32am

G'day folks.......blowing a gale and very wintery here........perfect weather for chatting about paddling stuff!!

Firstly, I've only been around for 3 seasons.......but I've done a bit of experimenting with paddle length, spent alot of time talking to Rambo and a few other Aussie paddlers (both accomplished and not-so accomplished).

I fall well within the "Not-so-accomplished" cohort.......

I have chronic shoulder problems stemming from over 200 dislocations playing deltoids really fatigue so keeping the hand at or below the height of the shoulder is really important so they dont blow out! an aside, this is a common injury prevention principle in other sports too.......I wish my rugby coaches taught us this years ago

I'm not an upright paddler........I'm reconciled to this.....for now

I'm 6ft & started with 52"

I went "short" (49") last year for our OC1 season and saw much improvement..........ALOT less shoulder fatigue & pain, which allowed me to train more & develop my skills

In "short", I feel my decision delivered me my best results yet......National Bronze in Master mens OC1 in 16km (10 miles) in January and National Bronze in MMOC1 500m (about 1/3 mile) in shoulder pain.....BTW....none of the "guns" were in my race...hehehe....but I'm still pretty proud!

I'm now using a Kia Loa Lanikai....... 50".......only coz I havent cut it down & I'm working on a slightly more upright is the most magic paddle I've ever used!!!.......won me the Bronze sprint medal!

Have a read of Rambo's info.........but have a go at using someone's shorter paddle, not just 5 minutes, get use to it, then measure your performance and listen to your body.....I reckon you'll prolong your paddling life a few years and cover yourself in glory!!

#31 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 6:16pm

Thanks to all of you for sharing - awesome insights into the personal preferences!

#32 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 8:03pm


I have an inspirational decal on my waka!

#33 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 8:13pm


Fenua - E vahine maohi e

'Arearea tatou e ( hi ha)
Inu inu tatou e ( ha he )
Tahiti nui e ( hi ha)
Tahiti rahi e ( aue tuna e aue ra )
To 'oe nehe nehe ( to 'oe nehe nehe)
Vahine ma'ohi e ( te vahine maohi )

Arearea tatou e ( hi ha )
Inu inu tatou e ( ha he )
Tahiti nui e ( hi ha)
Tahiti rahi e ( aue tuna e aue ra)
To 'oe nehe nehe ( to 'oe nehe nehe )
Vahine maohi e ( te vahine maohi )

'Ori 'ori tatou e ( 'ori 'ori 'ori tatou )
Tamure tamure ( e te mure mure ra )
Tiare tiare e ( hi ha )
To tino nehe nehe ( hiria hiria )
Ua here au ia oe ( aue )
Iaora tatou e ( iaora tatou e)

Sae sae rapa tuna se reira
Haere ko nae nae
Sae sae rapa tuna se reira
Haere ko nae nae
Iaora iaora tatou e
Iaora iaora tatou pa'atoa

Traduction :

(auteur/comp : Guy LAURENS)

Faisons la fête
Et buvons un coup
Tahiti la "Célèbre"
Tahiti la "Grande "
Tu es si belle
Belle comme la vahine

Faisons la fête
Et buvons un coup
Tahiti la "Célèbre"
Tahiti la "Grande "
Tu es si belle
Belle comme la vahine

Dansons tous ensemble
Le "Tamoure"
Comme la fleur du "Tiare"
Ton corps est si beau
Je t'aime
Et bienvenue à vous tous
Onomatopé (intraduisible)
Bienvenue à vous tous
Bienvenue à vous tous chers amis

#34 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 8:32pm

I do the super short paddle thing to keep from having to raise my hand too far above my shoulder. Im 5'9 and I use a 47" tahitian double bend. Ive got like 5 paddles and this is by far the most comfortable.

#35 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 8:49pm

I like to buck all trends and do things to contrary belief, so:

6'4" - I use a 54 1/2" when I paddle OC1 and a 52" for Six-man...

That's right, I used a LONGER paddle to OC1. Why? In an OC1, the overall length of the stroke increases because the boat doesn't glide like a six man, so where in OC6 you have your power phase, take out at the thigh and smoothly recover, which you can do because all the weight develops better momentum and you get 'glide', and OC1 doesn't do this as well so a longer blade allows me to 'load' my longer, OC1-style stroke better, from all the way up front. You use a longer stroke in OC-1 because you need to hold your boat up longer. The longer blade also doesn't lengthen my recovery, so I go with it. No doubt a shorter paddler (51") is more comfortable when I paddle OC1, but there's a noticeable speed difference with the longer shaft. I also make my own paddles so I get to test these ridiculous theories of mine anytime I want. I also go with a 10" in OC1 cause i'm 220 lbs. and don't really have a problem loading a blade that wide. No need to respond to my insanity, i'm quite aware my novice thinking is contrary to everything all the top guys have already established as being correct.

Oh yeah, 52" and 9 1/2" when I paddle six-man. Main thing in six-man is conformity. I actually haven't set foot in an OC6 for about 11 years, though, so what do I know?

#36 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 8:41pm

In my oc1 the paddle of choice is...
my SUP.
i think i get enough reach with it.

#37 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 9:38pm

lol pretty funny - get a second SUP and you might have urself a pair of OC-1 ocean stilts =D

#38 Sun, 06/15/2008 - 9:49pm

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