Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sizing a Canoe Paddle Made Easy

Choosing a Canoe Paddle Length - special thanks to Mark Scriver for writing this blogpost

 
FLATWATER
For flatwater paddling, your top hand should be at the height of your chin to your nose when the paddle is vertical in the water. Use the shorter, chin measurement for a compact stroke using a bent shaft paddle or a relaxed straight shaft stroke (and for outrigger use the chin or slightly shorter measurement) The shorter shaft length reduces the weight and swing weight of the paddle, is easier to maneuver the paddle and is easier to switch sides for a hit and switch paddling style. Use the chin measurement also for the Canadian stroke, which uses a lower hand position and a low angle rather than vertical shaft. Use the longer nose measurement for a more aggressive stroke with a straight shaft paddle.

Add the distance your seat is above the water to determine the total shaft length. 6” is a general guideline but this can vary depending on the style of boat.

Add the length of your chosen blade model to get the overall paddle length.
 

WHITEWATER
For whitewater canoeing,  measure from your seat to you eyes (where the top of the paddle should be at the beginning of an efficient stroke) and add the distance your seat is above the water to determine the total shaft length. 6” is a general guideline but this can vary depending on the style of boat.

In a decked c-1s the seat is usually 3-4 “ from the waterline.
The seats in a solo whitewater canoes and heavily loaded tripping boats are about 6” to 8” from the waterline. In empty or lighted loaded tandem canoes, the bench seats are usually 8” off the waterline.
For rafting, use 8” off the waterline as a general rule for paddling and 4 to 6 inches longer  for the steers-person who may wish more leverage and reach for steering strokes depending on the size of the raft.

This will determine the proper shaft length. Add the length of your chosen blade model to get the overall paddle length.

For a Werner Bandit in a typical 16’ – 17' tandem whitewater canoe -  Prospector, Canyon etc.
5’0 – 5’2 = 52”
5’3 – 5’4 = 54”
5’6 – 5’8 = 56”
5’ 9 –5’11 = 58”
6’0 – 6’2   = 60”
6’3 – 6’5 = 62”

For a whitewater playboat with a seat closer to the water subtract 2”
For a C-1 subtract another 2”.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin