Blade/Shaft Angle

Why does an OR blade/shaft path need to remain vertical but a kayak or surfski blade can be at an angle? With all things being equal, the pressure on the back of the blade is the same whether vertical or slightly angled.

I have long arms so it’s easier for me to keep my arms straighter if I put a slight angle to the blade/shaft, allowing me to use my larger torso/back muscles throughout the stroke. Staying vertical and drawing straight down next to the boat causes more bending of my lower arm thus using the smaller muscles of my arm.

I know what your supposed to do, but haven’t found out exactly why there is a difference between the two blade/shaft angles.

Submitted by leavenobeave on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 6:58am

Shaft angles? or the blade at the end of the shaft? What are you talking about?

#1 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:17am

Maybe it could get your paddle deeper where the water is a bit denser and has a better grab. and moor angle on your paddle, would make the canoe go left to right or right to left a bit quicker. and less switches is a bit faster. I think you could still use those big muscles on the back but at a different angle.

maybe focus on the reach

this just is my humble opinion.

#2 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:24am

Two blades in the water. One is vertical and the other angled. Both pulled back with the same force. The pressure on both would be the same. Why is it preferred to have the blade vertical for OR blades and slightly angled for kayak/surfski blades? That is the Q!

#3 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:28am

Water density would be the same on either. You don't want to go any deeper than the top of the blade on either.

Kayaking/surfski technique suggests keeping a beachball(simulated) between your chest and the shaft during the stroke. Don't lose that space as you rotate. I've played with that idea with my OR paddle but it seems to work better if I put a slight angle on the blade/shaft through the stroke. Definately not conventional. I always go back to what is considered the correct technique, but I still wonder why the other is not used...

#4 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:36am

Guessing here a bit, a vertical paddle pulling straight back results in mostly forward drive, while an angled paddle adds a turning element. This is not a problem on a ski because your left side stroke counteracts the right side stroke. On a canoe where you're doing say 15 stokes a side this would result in big S turns or the added drag of constant large steering corrections.
Make any sense?

#5 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:40am

If it goes straight back at an angle, there shouldn't be a turning element. If you sweep, then it will turn. However, surfkis do snake while paddling. That may be the tendency with an angled bade.

I hadn't thought about the offset effect of a kayak stroke vs staying on one side. You may have something there.

Good point, keep them coming!

#6 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:55am

"If it goes straight back at an angle", Because the stroke pivots around the center of your body, the more you angle it out, the more of a sweeping stroke you end up with, which means more of a turning element.

#7 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 8:14am

I'll try it next paddle to see if the boat turns or if I'm hitting the rudder.

#8 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 8:22am

The reason surf ski doesn't go completely perpendicular to the water would be because the the "wing" blade design. The blade itself shifts the blade at an angle away from the boat. Also paddling a surf ski with a vertical stroke is a sprint stroke, you can achieve greater speed but you lose efficiency, ie spending more energy. Vs. paddling at an angle where you still have great speed, not max, and you still have endurance energy. Also stability is increased with flatter stroke, lowers your center of gravity.

All this has nothing to do with the OC stroke one because, there is only one blade at the end of the shaft. Two, you only take somewhere between 55-75 spm on an OC, vs. 80-120+ on a SS. The OC blade design is there to get maximum grab per stroke, so as to increase efficiency.

"Why is it preferred to have the blade vertical for OR blades and slightly angled for kayak/surfski blades?"

First OAR not OR
oar |ôr|
a pole with a flat blade, pivoting in an oar lock, used to row or steer a boat through the water.
• a rower.


Second the theory is your pivotal force is stronger while your top hand is over your bottom hand, look at Sprint kayak/ surf ski paddlers they have their blade almost Vertical.

#9 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 9:32am

I said all things being equal when it comes to pressure on the back of the blade. I understand the properties of a wing paddle.

Your points are valid. The downward force of a vertical blade would certainly be higher than on an angled one, thus grabbing/catching quicker.

I was using OR for Outrigger instead of OC. Not sure why, but thanks for the vocabulary lesson.


We help because we are smarter than you.

#10 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 10:30am

We help because we want too not because we have too.

#11 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 10:49am

Getting completely vertical and staying that way on a Oc1 is very difficult to do. It means shifting weight over to that side and maintaining that position for the duration of the stroke, so as a compromise most people have the top hand over the center-line of the canoe. The important part is to try and pull straight back along the line of the canoe regardless of what angle the blade is.

A Lot of ski paddlers have a sweep when they paddle OC and it seems to work for them. Actually Mike Mills-Thom a K1 Marathon World Champ makes and paddles with a spoon type outrigger paddle called a "SlingShot" and a deliberate angled entry and sweep, he's a Master paddler but is Top 5 Open in OZ. Obviously he uses his K1 trained body to full advantage when paddling an Outrigger.

In the end, whatever makes YOU go faster, you do.

#12 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:58am

To add onto the top hand comment, the thought is to try and actually create lift, meaning you lift your weight off the water by planting the blade and "pole vaulting" yourself over where you set the blade. If this was done at an angle you wouldn't achieve upward lift just directional to one side.

Hey lot of strokes work. The question I always ask myself is why is someone truly faster than someone else. What is different about me compared to the other guy; is it strength, technique, genetics, fitness...?

#13 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:42pm

who wants it the most.

My dad coached us with the same “pole vaulting” image and it works for me.

#14 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:48pm

i think the intent of the vertical stroke is to provide as efficient a forward thrust as possible without affecting the left to right movement of the the boat...OC1 or OC6. the angled blade will have to be placed further away from the boat and that'll affect your angle of leverage.

you may feel more powerful with an angled blade while utilizing more back muscles, and you may or may not be, but the real question is are you more or less efficient with that stroke? sounds to me like your torso rotation will become more horizontal and therefore less efficient...pushes the boat side-to-side.

in an OC1 it doesn't're only responsible for yourself but in an OC6 you've got to blend with 5 other guys.

my advice...if your club preaches a vertical stroke, fall in line or go out and find 5 guys willing to experiment with your technique and try it out.

#15 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:04pm

Paddling with an angle in the blade (as being talked about) can cause a canoe (OC-1) to turn, but it depends on the canoe itself. Since some cockpits have the paddler closer to the nose which changes the pivot point, it could start turning towards the other side. But the length of the tail, could counter that and keep the boat tracking straighter still.

The same could go for a canoe with a lot of even rocker on the front and back with the paddler in the center of that rocker. The boat can turn easier if the paddler adds a sweep to their stroke on the opposite side of the direction of the turn.

Another example is if you are SUP paddling. Keeping the paddle verticle (closer to the rails) and you tend to go straghter for more strokes. Angle it out a bit and the board will start turning and you need to change sides more to compensate the board zig-zagging.

#16 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:16pm

Any pics of this "slingshot " paddle from OZ?

#17 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:24pm

tpoppler hit it on the nose. Ideally you want to pull straight back to maximize forward movement. It seems that a kayak stroke is unideal because it travels in an angled path. But the kayak paddle has the lip that keeps water moving back rather than sliding off the blade.

#18 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 2:26pm

mulus I can the who wants it more thing. but Im talking about two paddlers going head to head with the same boat, paddle, shorts, jersey, they weight the same, have the same stroke rate, why is it that they GO faster not have the mind set to go faster.

#19 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 2:45pm

I think a big part of it is water sense. Some people have a really good feel for how boats, surfboards, bodies etc. move through water. I think it's partly innate, partly from being in the water a lot as a child. Certain people are just magicians in the water. It's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

#20 Tue, 12/30/2008 - 2:59pm

Thanks Rambo, best yet. I do notice that when I get tired, my top hand tends to move closer to centerline. Sometimes I notice the shaft hitting the boat or my leg and I know I'm not vertical.

Jim, you're absolutely right. I train with a guy who has incredible water/boat sense. Until I get that, I'll keep asking questions, experiment with boat speed with the GPS, and log as many hours on the water as possible.

#21 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:32am

I hope you're not talking about Fuze, Beave. That guy has no sense of any kind!

#22 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:07am

Jim, of all the ROWERS out there, Fuze comes first to mind, he must be good.

How bout it Fuze? Sounds like your rep is in question. Have you accomplished anything in this sport of ROWING?

What you don't like in others is what you don't like in yourself.

Not bad for a dead beav...

#23 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:32am

Part of being a successful " internet tough guy" is to say things behind the safe confines of your keybord that you would never say in person . Jim is a master at this ....and there are others of note as well.

#24 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:44am

Not me, Fuze. I'm even more offensive in person.

#25 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:54am

Internet and tough guy. Wouldn't have thought to put those two together.

It does explain a lot from some of the responses I received.

I guess its another form of insecurity/weakness. Kind of like those that would rather have imagined relationships with animals instead of people.

Hey, its snowing, lets paddle!...LNB

#26 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:57am

I think Tpoppler was on to it with the “lift” thing earlier. Looking at it from that stand point, the only way to “compress” the water below the blade face to give a surface to “lift” the canoe with would be to have the shaft of the blade completely vertical. Paddle makers please jump in here, but that is part of the reason (as I understand it, obviously not the main reason) why the outrigger paddle blade face is angled in the first place.

If you look at your paddle from the side so that the side edge of the blade face is facing you and the shaft is completely vertical, and then draw a straight line down from the shaft, you see that a triangular area is created this are is where the water is “compressed” by the top hand pushing down on the hand to provide “lift”. Try and visualize the “force lines” that are created by the top hand driving down. These lines will run parallel with the shaft. Now if you turn your view to look at the back of the blade face and continue to visualize those same lines, still running parallel to the shaft, providing “lift”.

Now, angle the blade shaft to the side slightly like we’ve been discussing. If you’re still pushing through your top hand with the momentum of the stroke, the “force lines” are still running parallel to the shaft. This causes you to “push” the canoe away from your blade at the site of compression, rather than lift the canoe. This is part of what everyone was saying in earlier posts in this thread. Now, if you are still attempting to push your top hand straight down with the blade angled to the side, the downward “force lines” change from parallel to the shaft to parallel to the motion of the top-hand so if you again look at the area of compression, you will see that it is reduced in area. This means less force applied to “lifting” the canoe. So basically, either way you “drive” with your top hand on a blade that’s angled to the side, you still loose lift.

All the other stuff everyone else said about the sweeping motion of the pull also applies. I’m not discussing how a canoe moves forward, or how a blade angled away from the hull will affect forward momentum, only how the angle of the blade affects “lift”. The pole-vaulter analogy is a great one that I use a lot. Picture a pole-vaulter trying to vault with this pole cocked to the side. The result would be ineffective and comical.

If I’m way off on the “poor man’s physics”, please let me know. Thanks.

#27 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 11:05am

All the Theory's are great (except mine ... haha) but still some paddlers are fast with sloppy, poor style and even poorer technique.

In the ocean, you just act instinctively anyway and use your blade to maintain momentum any way you can.

Some people can pull water .... some can't.


#28 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 11:34am

Thanks Rambo, by that standard I must be an expert.

I absolutely agree that some people hava knack for making a boat move. I think in the end, it boils down to time spent paddling.

I'm somewhat of an exercise nazi. I thought an array of x-trainng would make me more fit for paddling. It did, but not a better paddler.

I quit all the x-training and paddled at least 6 days a week for 3 months and became a better paddler. Figure that!...LNB

#29 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:37pm

That don't surprise me at all LNB, we have always said "you wanna be a better paddler ..... go paddle"

But don't forget to read OCP, this is where all the juicy stuff happens.... where else can you get entertainment like this for free? ...hahaa.


#30 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:04pm

True Rambo.
Those that can, do.
The rest of us just type on

(Of course with the exception of a few of the top paddlers who post here and who are all too humble to consider themselves as top paddlers.)

#31 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:05pm

Like LUKE...

#32 Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:04pm

Flushing a turd is free and equally enturdtaining!


#33 Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:31am

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