What is the correct orientation to hold a Kayak paddle?

I have been a kayaker for years now but have always used a basic rectangular fined kayak paddle. I bought a new fiberglass one that has a more aerodynamic shape. See picture, my old paddle is like the bottom one, new one is like the top one: http://members.optusnet.com.au/aus-kayak-fishing/articles/img/paddles.jpg

I would think I would orient this new one so that the wider half of the paddle (the edge closest to the text) would enter the water first, common sense tells me that this way even shallow paddles give you a large surface area to paddle with.

Yet pictures I have seen show kayakers holding the paddle like the way it is shown in the picuture, the wider part of the blade entering the water last. Is this the correct way to do it? Why is that?

3 thoughts on “What is the correct orientation to hold a Kayak paddle?

  1. Laurence W Post author

    You want the blade of the paddle to enter the water perpendicular to the direction of travel.

    You don’t want to much blade surface in the water where you have poor leverage, or you may strain a muscle.

  2. wildraft1 Post author

    It is used as you have shown in the picture. This is used in order to “feather” the blade in the water, using as much (or little) as you need with each stroke. This allows you to fine tune your stroke and use more finesse, or “feel”.

    Trust me, you’re gonna LOVE it. I’ve never gone back to the “old” style!!

  3. g_steed Post author

    Good question. Paddle designs are continually evolving. One reason to enter the water with the smaller blade surface is to allow maximum control of the blade with the least effort. Try and find some video footage of a slalom race. Slow it down and see how racers use their paddles. More important is being able to do a ‘correct’ stroke. Buy a lesson from an instructor…he/she will teach you, posture, torso power and blade entry and exit techniques.

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