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Racing paddle lengths....


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Hey racers, been out on the water training this winter? Me neither, but I'm looking to make up for it soon. What ever happened to our Sunday training sessions for the Blackburn? Anyway....

I was wondering if folks use a shorter paddle length for racing. It would seem that a shorter paddle would help maintain a quicker cadence, no? I'm using a 220cm for my current touring paddle.

Any suggestions?

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From my experience most racers use a 215cm paddle. I really improved when I went from a 220 to a 215.

BTW I won't be paddling for a while. I'm in a hospital in West Palm Beach recovering from a break at the top of my left femur (just below the leg/hip ball and socket).

The accident happened with a rented 3 person sit-on-top at Singer Island,FL(that's all the outfitter had available). The surf was very rough and there was no bow toggle to drag the kayak through the surf zone. I used a grab handle on the side to pull it out. However, a strong wave ripped it out of my hand and the backsurge brought it out between me and the breaker zone. Next a breaker pushed the kayak sideways back towards me. I was in shallow water so was able to jump over it. I guess my left leg was so extended that the torque snapped my femur. Draw your own conclusions. A helmet may not be sufficient.


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Hi Sean.

I'd like to get on the water and get a jumpstart on the racing season. I'm completely out of shape, so I best get started. Drop me a line at caseyfamily at verizon dot com if you want to get on the water sometime. Maybe we can get an informal group going to practice for the Essex River Race.

Talk to you soon.

Tom Casey

PS. Leon, I'm sorry to hear about your accident. Get well soon.

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Hey Sean- Alex Landrum here. I would agree that shorter is better, as you can up your cadence, and that is always a good thing in racing. I think that you can go even shorter than 215, depending on the boat beam where you will be putting your paddle in for the catch. I have recently switched from a Glider to a Looksha III, and the Looksha is narrower in my "catchment" area than the Glider. I have been using a 210, and am thinking about going down to a 205. WW paddlers and paddle surfers in 25-27 inch wide boats are using paddles in the 195-185 range, and getting lots of power and a high cadence to boot. If you are thinking about shortening an existing paddle, that's one thing, but if you are thinking about getting a new paddle altogether, definitely consider paddle shape and size too. The bigger the blade, the more power you will potentially have, but then you will run into the issue of cadence again. Bigger often means slower, and can also mean tendonitis if you let your technique slip.

Hope this helps- Alex L

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Paddle length can vary depending on what boat you are using and many other tiny details too numerous to mention. And what you think you like now may not always feel right later.

The solution that many have found to this problem is a variable length paddle like the Epic Length-Loc system (or copies like the Fenn Paddles from Oceanpaddlesports.com) that lets you adjust for up to 10cm variation and any feather setting. One paddle can then fit many if not all occasions.

Plus it is one more piece of gear to adjust...


PS Get well soon Leon!

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Rivers are open enough to start race training, the Mystic in Arlington is open for about 3 miles downriver from the lower lake, and the Sudbury is open in Sudbury around route 20 and in Framingham above the Saxonville dam.

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