Author Topic: Paddle length question  (Read 44132 times)

Iks_SUP

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Paddle length question
« on: July 25, 2019, 10:26:42 AM »
I found this while searching for ways to determine proper paddle length after reading a lot of older posts when longer paddles were trending:

I have a pretty good technique for length that actually takes things that matter (like board thickness) into account. This technique was handed down to me from my Australian distributors physiotherapist (who is also an avid paddler); he recommends the following: Stand on your board with your paddle to your side with the blade submerged to the blade/shaft joint; at this point the top of your handle should be parallel with the top of your shoulder. I've found this technique to work well for everything flat water related (I use just a bit overhead for the surf). Basically I think you can throw all that 8" etc. rule out the door, all those older techniques might be a good starting point but they leave too much out.

My question is this: For someone with longer than average arms (me) would you add or subtract length to improve paddling efficiency for speed and distance? I've only been SUPing for a couple years and am just now learning proper paddle stroke technique. I definitely feel like my paddle is too long (I have the Blue Planet Kai Zen V1, 98" blade, top of handle cut to my wrist with arm straight up over my head).

Any tips or advice on current methods or best lengths (long or short) to avoid injury would be appreciated.

Thanks!

eastbound

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2019, 01:24:50 PM »
not sure arm length matters--more about the height of your shoulders, how much you bend knees when stroking, and how thick your board is
Portal Barra 8'4"
Sunova Creek 8'7"
Starboard Pro Blue Carbon  8'10"
KeNalu Mana 82, xTuf, ergoT

nalu-sup

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2019, 02:49:05 PM »
+1 to everything eastbound said. I have two paddle lengths, one for surfing and the other for downwinding.
 When surfing, the deck of my board is right at water level, and when paddling for a wave I am in a very low stance. Once on the wave, I want to be able to switch quickly from side to side for alternative styles of turning, which for me is much quicker and easier with a shorter paddle. My surf paddles are 1" to 2" overhead.
 My downwind board is over six inches thick, and sits very high in the water. When clawing onto a bump when downwinding, I am also in a very low stance. My downwind paddle is six inches longer than my surf paddle, and when on the appropriate board, they both feel just right. Just out of curiosity, the other day I took my dw paddle out surfing, and it was horrible; way to long.
8'7" Sunova Flow  121 L
8'8" Blue Planet 'All Good' 120 L
8'10" Sunova Speeed 130 L
9'0" Tabou SupaSurf  145 L
16' S.I.C. F16 downwinder 323 L

OkiWild

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2019, 03:25:45 PM »
I came to the conclusion that I want my surfing paddle sized for flat water padding comfort. I'm 70" and my paddles are maybe 73"-74". I do this because most of the places I surf involve a paddle of a km or more to get to. If I need more beans, like when digging for a wave, I just choke up on the thing. Being a long-time sea kayaker, I don't really need the handle to "feel" and control the paddle blade angle. I also find that with the oval shaft on the Kai Zen paddles, it's even better.

For DW, the paddle is substantially longer. For that I have the Kai Zen V2, which allows adjustment of the upper shaft by using glue and a heat gun to lengthen or shorten. I started out long, and just shortened it a few inches at a time until it was the most comfortable. It might be as long as 78".   

burchas

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2019, 08:47:36 PM »
There are many variables dictating paddle length, some of them mentioned above.
Longer arms can have a big impact on your paddling technic, if you are in fact taking
advantage of it, as it allows you to have more leverage on the paddle by
Having your bottom hand lower on the shaft and closer to the water.

One of my boards has a recessed deck. paddling almost at water level allows
Me to use a paddle 3.5 inches shorter. The difference is very noticeable.

One other observation, you mentioned having the KaiZen with what I assume
Is the 98 square inches blade size, now that’s a blade size larger than what most
Folks can handle, let alone a blade design of the kaizen with its strong catch.

So unless you are a very large individual with a physique of an Orangutan I’d
Look into a smaller blade size as another remedy. After much experimentation
I found that a large blade sizes have a similar effect of using a too long shaft.
- M15 15x27x4.5 https://bit.ly/2WmuEpt
- Ocean Ripple 16x25 @ 251L
- SIC Standamaran (S-16) - https://goo.gl/7myGAo
- Wide Tail 10x31x4 @ 149L
- SIC FX 12.6 2X - https://goo.gl/GOkSHT
- Red 2017 Elite 14x25
- ZRE Lightning 75
- Kenalu Mana 82
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- QuickBlade Trifecta 86

Night Wing

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2019, 05:04:20 AM »
What is never mentioned in these paddle length topics, a person's physical limitations if they have one. I've got two limitations. One is a cranky lower back. The second is, two surgically repaired left and right shoulders.

The one limitation I'm always concerned with when flat water lake paddling or sup surfing is my two surgically repaired left and right shoulders. When I'm on flat water, I like to stand up right and not bend my knees. This keeps my cranky lower back at bay. This also helps me when I'm paddling for 2 hours with small breaks to rest in the 2 hour time period.

With my repaired shoulders, with my right or left hand on top of the paddle handle, the height I use for flat water paddling is "chin high"  and no higher. This basically keeps my arms parallel to the surface of the water if I need to switch sides when I'm flat water paddling. Both of my left and right shoulders like "chin high" and I definitely "listen" to both shoulders if and when they talk to me. As the say, "Pain is an excellent teacher".

Since I'm 5'8" (68") in height, when I'm flat water paddling my One World 11'1" x 30" x 4.5" @ 173 liters, I like the length of my adjustable 75 paddle to be set at 68", but when I'm flat water paddling my new Duke 10'5" x 32" x 4.5" @ 190 liters, I like the length of my adjustable 75 paddle to be set at 67". And believe me, I can tell the difference that one inch makes between my One World and Duke.

For sup surfing my One World, I like the paddle length to be set at 66" since I bend my knees. Since it has been so hot here these last 6 weeks and before I got my new Duke, the heat index has been between 103-112 degree everyday so I haven't taken my Duke sup surfing yet. And there is another reason. Without any wind driven waves because of he big dome of high pressure which has been sitting on top of us, the beach water temperature has been around 85 degrees so the beach water has "flesh eating bacteria" in it right now. If we get some nice 18-over 20 mph winds, the flesh eating bacteria will dissipate with the rough wave action.

When I take my Duke sup surfing when the dome of high pressure gives way; I plan on sup surfing my Duke with bent knees, with a 65" paddle length and see "how my two surgically repaired shoulders feel". I'm guessing at this point, both of my shoulders will like the 65" length.

And the above comments are the reason why I prefer an adjustable length paddle over a fixed length paddle for both flat water and sup surfing.

Blue Planet Duke: 10'5" x 32" x 4.5" @ 190 Liters
Sup Sports Hammer: 8'11" x 31" x 4" @ 140 Liters
SUP Sports One World: 11'1" x 30" x 4.5" @ 173 Liters

eastbound

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2019, 06:20:39 AM »
clogs are thin underfoot, by design, so require a shorter length paddle than normal
Portal Barra 8'4"
Sunova Creek 8'7"
Starboard Pro Blue Carbon  8'10"
KeNalu Mana 82, xTuf, ergoT

Iks_SUP

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2019, 08:10:02 AM »
There are many variables dictating paddle length, some of them mentioned above.
Longer arms can have a big impact on your paddling technic, if you are in fact taking
advantage of it, as it allows you to have more leverage on the paddle by
Having your bottom hand lower on the shaft and closer to the water.

One of my boards has a recessed deck. paddling almost at water level allows
Me to use a paddle 3.5 inches shorter. The difference is very noticeable.

One other observation, you mentioned having the KaiZen with what I assume
Is the 98 square inches blade size, now that’s a blade size larger than what most
Folks can handle, let alone a blade design of the kaizen with its strong catch.

So unless you are a very large individual with a physique of an Orangutan I’d
Look into a smaller blade size as another remedy. After much experimentation
I found that a large blade sizes have a similar effect of using a too long shaft.

What Burchas has said is making sense to me. I'm 72" tall but my wingspan, finger tip to finger tip, is a few inches longer than that. I'm very strong (500+ deadlift and squat, 365 bench) so I can handle the larger blase size, hence why i bought it. Learning to paddle properly has got me thinking about moving to a smaller blade size in the future, but I'd like to get my technique down a bit more before I start changing it up too much. As of right now my stamina is non existent when paddling correctly for speed/distance. I've left off the weightlifting and am focusing on cardio lately to improve my stamina.

Shortening the paddle length needs to happen as I don't want to hurt my shoulders. I can definitely feel it after a paddle session. I suffer from previous shoulder injuries and am due for a minor surgery on my right shoulder this winter. Not so much joint related as muscle (aggravated SLAP tear, been bugging me for a few years).

I feel like the takeaway here is "whatever works for you" lol. Is it safe to say that having the paddle handle at shoulder height w/blade submerged is a good starting point to work with? This is kind of why I was asking about having longer arms. Should I go shorter because my arms are longer? or vice versa?

Sorry for all the questions. Just trying to get all the info I can before I make my cut. Can't go back once I do ;)

Quickbeam

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2019, 12:09:27 PM »
I tried this formula this morning and it was surprising close for me. I submerged my paddle to the blade / shaft joint while on my board and the T grip on my paddle was very close to the top of my shoulder. It was maybe an inch or so shorter but was still pretty close. For reference, I’m 5’ 8” tall and my paddle is cut to 72 1/2”.

Having said this, my take is you would be better off buying an adjustable paddle and play with different lengths until you find what is comfortable for you. That’s what I did, and it took me a fair amount of time to find the correct length for me. Paddles are expensive and as you said, once you make the cut, you can’t go back.
ONE SUP Edge Pro 12' 6" x 22"
ONE SUP Evo 12’ 6” x 24”
Infinity Whiplash 12' 6" x 24 1/2"
ONE SUP Evo 12’ 6” x 26”
Bark Competitor 12’ 6” x 29”
Red Paddle Explorer (Inflatable) 13' 2" x 30
Red Paddle Race (Inflatable) 12’ 6” x 30”

ZRE Power Surge ZX4, Kevlar braided shaft (75”)

Iks_SUP

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2019, 08:53:55 PM »
clogs are thin underfoot, by design, so require a shorter length paddle than normal

What do you mean by clogs?

Also, I shortened my paddle by three inches. This brings it to a total length of 82.5” or 83”. I’m going to be on the water for a while tomorrow so we’ll see how it feels now.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. I appreciate it.

Dusk Patrol

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2019, 07:13:22 AM »
Bullet V2; RS 14x26; New Deal 9'6; BluePlanet 9'4

Area 10

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2019, 07:26:16 AM »
I tried this formula this morning and it was surprising close for me. I submerged my paddle to the blade / shaft joint while on my board and the T grip on my paddle was very close to the top of my shoulder. It was maybe an inch or so shorter but was still pretty close. For reference, I’m 5’ 8” tall and my paddle is cut to 72 1/2”.

Having said this, my take is you would be better off buying an adjustable paddle and play with different lengths until you find what is comfortable for you. That’s what I did, and it took me a fair amount of time to find the correct length for me. Paddles are expensive and as you said, once you make the cut, you can’t go back.
Most of us these days use hot glue rather than epoxy, at least until we have found the right length. You cut it to a length you know is likely to be a bit long, and then over a period of weeks cut it again and again in ever decreasing amounts until you have got it exactly right for you. Hot glue allows you to do this. I augment the joint with plumber’s self-amalgamating tape because the hot glues available in the UK aren’t very good in water. There really isn’t another perfect way of deciding upon the right length for you, your activity and conditions, and your board. But once you’ve found your magic length it’s a wondrous thing.

Quickbeam

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2019, 07:52:46 AM »
I agree with using hot glue, and all my T grips are hot glued in place. I don’t however use it for paddle sizing, but rather for re-sale. It’s hard enough to sell paddles (I should know. I’ve got two for sale right now that aren’t moving) and especially so if you have to sell to someone who uses the exact same length as you. If however you’ve left potential buyers the option to cut the paddle down, at least you have a larger market to sell to.

I still prefer an adjustable paddle to determine the correct paddle length. It lets you experiment with both longer and shorter lengths until you really get it dialed in.
ONE SUP Edge Pro 12' 6" x 22"
ONE SUP Evo 12’ 6” x 24”
Infinity Whiplash 12' 6" x 24 1/2"
ONE SUP Evo 12’ 6” x 26”
Bark Competitor 12’ 6” x 29”
Red Paddle Explorer (Inflatable) 13' 2" x 30
Red Paddle Race (Inflatable) 12’ 6” x 30”

ZRE Power Surge ZX4, Kevlar braided shaft (75”)

Luc Benac

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2019, 07:54:17 AM »
That is the process I have followed over several years. I accumulated quite a few shafts of different length, stiffness and weight.
And of course many boards have come and gone until now.

That gives you an idea:
Flat#Naish Javelin LE 14' x 26" 250L - Andaman 500
DW#Naish Maliko 14' x 26" 264L - Salish 460
Touring#Naish Sunova Allwater 14'x27" 319L - Salish 500
Wave#Nalu 11'4" x 30" 180L - Mana 82

Iks_SUP

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Re: Paddle length question
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2019, 12:24:59 PM »
I took some measurements and ended up taking about 3 inches off. I used the method in my opening post, just out of the water from the bottom of my board. My board sits lower in the water with me on it, so I still have room to trim some more if I need to.

After going out on it a few times, I can definitely tell a difference in my shoulders. I'm going to stick with this length for a while and see how it feels long term.

Everyone's advice was very helpful. Thanks again.