Wings don’t make ME fly!

I returned to canoeing after 25 years of doing other stuff in 2008, and took my Jaguar K1 out of mothballs. I also found my trusty Mark Gees 220 wooden paddles.

Mark Gees paddles - 1,042 grams

Mark Gees paddles – 1,042 grams


I then discovered that the majority of sprint and marathon paddlers had all adopted wings as the paddle of choice, and assumed that they would be just what I needed to be competitive, and thus purchased a set of Lettmann Nordic 220 carbon blades from Marsport.
Lettman Nordic paddles - 875 grams

Lettman Nordic paddles – 875 grams


I knew I had to adopt a different paddling style and watched many fast paddlers intently to see how it should be done. I also studied videos on youtube to get some hints. However I never felt comfortable or became efficient enough to get the best out of them and felt that I was simply pulling the blade through the water, instead of pulling the boat past the paddle.

I even capsized a few times during Waterside races as the paddle unpredictably wasn’t giving the support I expected.

So, after six years of frustration, I tested a set of “conventional” asymmetric paddles and could not believe the difference. All of a sudden it felt right, like falling in love!!!

So I bought a set of Werner Corryvrecken carbon blades from Marsport. These are marketed as touring paddles and even had drip rings at each end. They were immediately removed!

Werner paddles - 798 grams

Werner paddles – 798 grams


I tested them on my benchmark paddle on the Dreadnought Reach section of the Thames. I have used this stretch for a number of years and always use the same distance and course for timing, it’s about five miles. This allows me to measure any differences I’ve made to the boat or paddle, and to gauge my current fitness level.

I was astounded to see an improvement in performance of three minutes over my wing paddle. Not only that, they just felt right. I opted for 215 cm length which is slightly less than I’m used to. As I’m older, I need all the help I can get!

The paddle has an adjustable ferrule connection and I set the feather to 45 degrees rather than the 60 degrees on my wings.

Werner paddle connection

Werner paddle connection


Why I didn’t do this a few years early, goodness knows. I was probably influenced by my peers.

So, an old dog hasn’t learnt a new trick, but has simply reverted to something he never should have changed in the first place. If it ain’t broke…………..

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