February 19, 2010, Newsletter Issue #18: The Anatomy of a Kayak Paddle

Tip of the Week

It is important to understand the anatomy of a kayak paddle in order to learn proper stroke technique, paddling form, and paddle placement. Unlike a canoe paddle, kayak paddles have two blades connected by a shaft. The shaft is the part you hold and the blades are the parts that you pull through the water. 

Kayak Paddle Blades

The side of the blade that pulls against the water is known as the face of the paddle. Each blade face is usually smooth and curved in toward the direction of pull. Blades can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. A symmetrical blade has the same shape on the top and the bottom. An asymmetrical blade is usually straight and longer on the top and then tapers down to the shorter bottom.

Kayak Paddle Shaft
Most people don’t realize there are design features to the shaft of the paddle. A kayak paddle shaft can be one piece or two pieces. On a two piece paddle, there is a ferrule system that connects the pieces of the shaft together. The ferrule system usually includes a button on one side of the shaft that gets depressed and fits into a hole in the other side of the shaft. Kayak paddle shafts often have an ovular shape to them in the area where the control grip takes place. Finally, some kayak paddle shafts have drip cups on them to keep the water from dripping down the paddle. These are also used to mark hand placement.

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