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





Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin