Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Werner Grand Prix Review

Welcome to our guest blogger, Werner Team Paddler, Mike Darbyshire.

After hearing about the changes to Werner Paddles SUP linefor 2016 I was eager to get the paddles into my hands and into the water.  I placed my pre-order at the end of last year for 3 new paddles to replace my current paddles and so far I have not been disappointed!

Werner has always staked their reputation on making the highest quality paddles that perform at a high level. 

Hand-crafted in Sultan Washington, their paddles have for a long time been the standard in kayak paddle quality and performance.  This quality and performance is maintained through their SUP line and my favourite part is the design that goes into making specific paddles for specific uses.  

A wise man once told me that the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to outdoor gear usually means you are going to get the worst of all worlds.  While this isn’t always true, a paddle that ‘does it all’ will likely ‘do it all’ poorly rather than provide excellent performance in a particular area. 

As a gear junkie and somebody who loves products designed for specific purposes I have always appreciated Werner’s dedication to putting a lot of thought, design and testing into specific shapes, materials and sizes that would provide the best performance in the specific discipline.

I get a lot of questions asking what paddle I use? What size is the blade? What length are you using? And my answer varies depending on which area of SUP I am being asked about.  Here is a breakdown of the 4 paddles I am using now. (I am about 5’11”)

a.    Dedicated racing paddle
b.    Length: 78”
c.    Blade Size: 86 sq.in
d.    Weight 413 grams

a.    Surf Paddle
b.    Length: 74”
c.    Blade Size: 79 sq.in.
d.    Weight 454 grams

a.    Whitewater Paddle
b.    Length: 76”
c.    Blade Size: 99sq.in.
d.    Weight: 535g

4.    Werner Soul S (for 2016 check out the Flow 85)
a.    Teaching Paddle
b.    Length: 78”
c.    Blade Size: 90sq.in.

For this post I am going to focus on the Grand Prix.  This paddle will be in my hands for the majority of the season. I log a lot of hours training and racing through the season and the paddle is the one constant throughout the season. 

Since I started racing 5 years ago my race paddles have gradually been getting smaller and smaller. My first race paddle was a Kialoa Shaka Puu which was 82” in length and had a 101sq.in. blade.  As you can see from above, my paddle this year is 4” shorter and 15sq.in smaller in the blade.  This change is fairly common through the SUP racing world and seems to be driven by a couple of factors.

The first reason I moved to a shorter paddle with a smaller blade was to take some stress off my shoulders.  I found myself getting a sore right shoulder after racing and even had a couple close calls in the surf where I felt like my shoulder was close to dislocating.  The smaller blade and shorter shaft has reduced a lot of this stress.

The second reason I moved to a smaller paddle was to focus on my strengths.  I love how inclusive SUP racing is and by that I mean that it lends itself to all sorts of body types, weights, heights etc.  It’s all about how you move your own body across the water.  I found that the best way for me to move quickly and efficiently was with a higher turnover and quicker strokes rather than focusing on longer stronger strokes, I seemed to be better suited for a higher cadence with a bit less power.

This is where the Grand Prix fits in so nicely. It has a generally narrow blade which allows for a quicker turnover and a cleaner entry and exit from the water.  The smallest blade size has been reduced from a 91sq.in. blade in 2015 to an 86sq.in which results in a little less stress on the joints and a quicker stroke turnover. The Grand Prix also has what I would consider a ‘softer’ flex in the paddle shaft which can also help in keeping some stress off the body.

So far I’ve logged about 60km on the new Grand Prix and it feels great.  The feel of the paddle remains much the same as it has the past couple of years but the smaller blade is definitely noticeable, especially this early in the season. Werner has also maintained the relatively high 12 degree offset angle in the blade which results in a cleaner exit and a more vertical blade throughout the stroke. This off-set is an excellent efficiency feature but can feel a bit different for paddlers who are used to a more tradition 8-10 degrees. The Grand Prix continues to be one of the lightest race paddles on the market while still maintaining the high level of durability you can find with all Werner Paddles. The Grand Prix comes in a straight shaft or a benth shaft and can be purchased in 3 different blade sizes: 86sq.in, 93,sq.in and 100sq.in.

If you are in Deep Cove you are more than welcome to give my paddle a try or use one of our many Werner demos!  Or stop by our retail store Deep Cove Outdoors to chat with one of our staff who can help you pick the right paddle for yourself.

Keep checking back in for more product reviews!

Mike on the Slocan River with Werner Paddles, Western Canadian Sales Rep, Nikki Rekman photo: Mark Klein

Friday, March 18, 2016

Routes of Change Expedition - Canoeing from Hope, BC to Vancouver, BC with Canadian explorer, Markus Pukonen

Mark and I had discussed doing a winter paddling trip down the Fraser River this year but we never expected the impetus would be a guy, we had never met, circumnavigating the planet without the use of a motor.

When life and the paddling community comes together - cool stuff happens and being a part of the Fraser River leg of the Routes of Change expedition was no exception.
On a dark, cool morning in late January a group of paddlers, who didn’t all know each other, headed out from Chilliwack, BC. We had arranged to meet, Canadian explorer and adventurer, Markus Pukonen at a pre-arranged put-in on the Fraser River in Hope, BC.

What were we thinking?

We were thinking, “Let’s have an adventure!”

As we were loading up our Clipper Canoes (thanks to WesternCanoeing and Kayaking in Abbotsford, BC) we see a tall, blond haired guy with skis on his back, walking towards us and our piles of gear, it’s Markus and the adventure is about to begin. He had recently skied from Kelowna to Hope to begin the next leg of his expedition.

After the obligatory pre-trip photo, we were off.

Our first day we logged 57 km and were forced off the water due to crazy-winds, just downstream from Island 22 near Chilliwack, BC. The wind was so strong, that this would be the only time of the trip that SUP paddler, Jason Bennett would be found sitting down! We had hoped to make it past Chilliwack on day 1 but alas the weather had other plans for us.
Camp #1 ended up being very comfortable and we were able to enjoy our evening without wind and rain to spend a little time around the campfire. That was about the only dry spell on the trip.

Day two was also wet and cool but our crew was well-dressed and comfortable in our Kokatat gear (can’t imagine doing any kind of paddling trip at this time of year without a drysuit! Thanks, Kokatat). It was another long day, 56 km bringing us to Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley, BC. The Fraser River is tidal below Mission, BC so our current had slowed significantly in comparison to what we experienced on the Hope to Chilliwack section of the river and so far the tides had been in our favour.

Camp #2 ended up being quite decadent given the wet weather as we hijacked the kitchen shelter and set up ALL of our gear, including our tents to have a dry night’s sleep. We were a bit nervous about getting kicked out of the park (it’s closed after dark) but we were tired, cold and hungry and we had arrived by canoe and SUP board – what were they going to do? Thankfully, the park ranger never showed up.

Kitchen Shelter at Derby Reach Regional Park. Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

Our 3rd and final day was surprise, wet and cool but the change in scenery was different than what most of us were used to on trips and kept things interesting. The lower section of the Fraser River is very industrial and of course, goes right through New Westminster, North Richmond and South Vancouver. We saw a fair bit of commercial traffic and paddling underneath all the bridges was very cool.

The Port Mann Bridge is in our sights. Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

Photo Credit: Nikki Rekman Sales

There were a few things that struck me about this trip, #1 it was amazing how competent and cohesive our small group of 7 paddlers was given that we didn’t really know each other before the trip. We really left the trip having made new friends and #2 how unexplored the Fraser River is by paddlers and #3 and possibly the most important, how one person’s dream (Markus’ dream to circumnavigate the planet) brought a group of like-minded people together for an amazing paddling adventure! THANK YOU, Markus!

Our goal was to help get Marcus to Vancouver and after 44 km on day 3 the sun came out (seriously, that’s how it happened) and greeted us just below the Arthur Laing Bridge at Fraser River Park.

Photo Credit: DamGood Trips

We did it and we had a blast being a part of the Routes of Change expedition.
If you have a chance to join Markus at some point in his journey, do it, you won’t regret it.

Paddlers: Markus Pukonen, Jason Bennett, Christina Chowaniec, Nikki Rekman, Mark Klein, Peter Brennan and Laura Demers.

Special thanks to our shuttle drivers, Len Zilkowsky and Monica Demers, to the folks that met us en route with hot beverages and timbits – Lynne Smith and Marlin Bayes from Clipper Canoes and the friends and family that welcomed us at the end of our journey to help us pack up and get Markus on his way again, this time via bicycle. We could not have done it without you!

Gear generously supplied by Kokatat and Clipper Canoes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Werner Paddles Rip Stick Review by Mark Temme

Mark Temme, is a SUP Surf athlete based out of New York state, check out what he had to say about his Werner Paddles Rip Stick

Got my Rip Stick! Big Thanks!!! Used it today in some good surf here in Surf City, New Jersey. Hands down the best SUP Surf Paddle I have ever used! Whether paddling thru whitewater or spinning around to catch a wave it gives me the quick bursts of acceleration needed to maximize performance. The light weight, progressive blade design and surface area also allows for the most efficient handling I've ever experienced while riding a wave. It allows easy paddle transfers and the smoothest, cleanest interface with the slope and shape of the wave. Definitely the best paddle i've ever used to SUP Surf!!! Already showed it off to the crew hanging out at the top of the dune after my first session using it! Big Mahalos!

The Rip Stick is available in two sizes - 79 & 89 and designed from the ground up by professional surfers, one of which is Fiona Wylde. With it's unique double concave and strong dihedral you've got great power pockets and a self-centering blade that makes every stroke count!

Fiona recently came in 2nd at the 2016 Waterman League Turtle Bay's Pro Women's Competition. This was stop #1 of the Stand Up World Tour and you can expect to hear more about the Rip Stick as the premier surf event in the US, Santa Cruz Paddlefest takes place THIS weekend.

Contact Mark at New York Kayak Co. in Manhattan to find out more about SUP paddling in NYC or on the surf in NJ.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin