Picking a paddle requires you to take into account your boat, your experience, your condition and your style. In addition, your team may have restriction on size, width or style. It is best to talk with your coach and team mates before you buy and paddle. It is even more important to test the blade before you put down any money.
Given this information, here are some general guidelines for picking out a blade.
There are two basic styles of paddles used in outrigger canoeing: bent shaft or double bent shaft. Bent shaft paddles are by far the most common and provide excellent (and proven) performance. The double bent shaft is relatively new and claim to reduce fatigue and offer improved performance for distance paddling.
Again, there are many philosophies about choosing the right length. In our view you will not go wrong if you use our basic rules:
- Sit down on a standard chair with no padding.
- Measure from the chair seat to your chin
- Now add the length of the blade
This will give you a good idea where to start.You may want to vary your length depending on other variables like medical conditions.
Paddle with is determined by your team and by your strength. Most paddlers use a paddle width between 8 1/2 to 9 3/4. The wider the paddle blade is the more water you can move – if you are strong enough to do so. There are many ideas about what is the best width, but in general here are some rules.
If you are smaller, then get a narrower paddle blade. If you are a big guy you may want to get a bigger blade. Some paddlers paddle at a higher rate, in which case a narrower paddle works better. Either way, talk to you team mates and get a size that fits in with your clubs philosophy.
Paddles are made with a combination of materials, but in short you will find wood, carbon fiber or a combination of these two. Most people are paddling with a hybrid which is a combination of a wood shaft and a carbon fiber blade.
In general the the carbon blades are lighter and stiffer.
Keep in mind that Hawaiian rules, not enforced in the Northwest, have paddle restriction on materials. You cannot paddle OC6 with a full carbon blade in Hawaii, but you can use a hybrid. You can paddle with any blade on your OC1/2
Here is an link to Panamuna club’s paddling technique.