Why Are Kayak Paddle Blades Offset?
Why Are Kayak Paddle Blades Offset

More often than not, kayaking is a planet of its own. If you’ve been around for a long time and understand your gear quite well, you can’t speculate how it has influenced beginners. 

Newbies who have inquiries fast end up in the big kayak forums. Sadly, the arguments there promptly drift away from the matter, and also thickness of technical terms prevents many newbies.

It can be relatively straightforward. Practically, all you need for kayaking is a suitable kayak, a proper kayak paddle, the fitting kayak apparel, and a life jacket. When newbies see the gear for the first time, they usually ask: Why are kayak paddle blades offset?

The paddle blades on kayak paddles are set asymmetrically to lower wind resistance. An option is to turn the paddle when it is lifted from the water. In the end, yet, the turning motion confirms to be unergonomic. Nowadays, twisted kayak paddles are used in widespread and proficient sports.

The wind is the primary cause of why the kayak paddles are offset. Yet, is this setup the by-product of expansion by the Inuit? Or were the paddles exclusively adjusted to this in contemporary times? Let’s hop into more details!

Table of Contents

The Inuit and Twisted Kayak Paddles

Kayaks are a product of the Inuit. This truly goes without saying! When the rest of the planet started to move the Inuit model to the current age, individuals opted for non-twisted dual paddles. Shortly after the retake of kayaks, yet, kayaking was extended to contain a sporting aspect.

Races against other kayakers became more and more famous. It fast became clear that the separated paddle blades were carried into the wind with their “broadside”, thereby stalling down the boat.

The paddle strategy was invented so the blade arising from the water was turned to show a little surface to the (rushing) wind. Nevertheless, this paddling technique was not optimal. Similarly, the wind opposition was high, and turning the paddle was not quite ergonomic for the hand.

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There Is More to This

The identical period when the evolution from the non-twisted to the asymmetrical dual paddles took place is not familiar. We only know that in 1928 the quite popular folding boat driver Carl Joseph Luther in spite of all
drove with offset paddle blades.

Still, already at the 1936 Olympics, kayak paddles twisted by 90° were the norm and thus reached today’s models. Exclusively paddle blades protruding at good pitches no longer exist today. Another amusing story is the presumable first meeting between the Inuit and the offset paddles.

The shooting of “S.O.S. Eisberg” continued a feature movie about the pursuit of a famous lost Greenland journey. So, some Inuits were able to try a contemporary folding boat including a twisted dual paddle the first time.

While the boat was praised as fine, the Inuit could not get used to the odd double paddles. This was likely due to the unique paddling movement, per se.

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Which Angle of the Kayak Paddle Is for Newbies?

Anyone who checks the kayak paddles for rental in a water sports base will often see that the paddle blades are nearly not twisted at all. Usually, the angle is exclusively 0 to 15°. 

This can quickly guide to the illusion that a low angle is a solid option for beginners. In the end, most users of a water sports station are newbies or at least inexperienced kayakers. Which angle is best for beginners is not an effortless query to give an answer to. With classic paddling, there is barely any space for a maneuver. 

The paddle blades have to be released separately and glued back to the shaft with a related offset. Trendy kayak paddles, on the flip side, can be modified to various angles. Usually, the grades 30°, 45°, and 60° are mainly used for these dual paddles.

The Olympic athletes in 1936 still modified their kayak paddles to an inclination of 90°. Nevertheless, now 60° has appointed itself as the standard. Rather than getting used to paddling with paddle blades that are not twisted, beginners should instantly use this measure. With the asymmetrical kayak paddles, the paddling motion is more ergonomic, and wind resistance is lower when riding.

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Why Are Kayak Paddle Blades Offset

The Angle of the Kayak Paddle and the Style

With newbie paddlers, the issue is usually that all the power arrives from the arms. The upper body is used way too little. If you paddle like this, you may even cope more suitably with a non-twisted kayak paddle. Such a dual paddle could be submerged straight in the water.

Yet, we do not advise this paddle style. Rather than entering kayaking with a balanced double paddle, newbies should also select an asymmetrical kayak paddle with an inclination of 60°.

Skilled kayakers, semi, and real pros do not sit motionless in the kayak while riding. Professional kayakers employ their bodies to the full when paddling. Rather than having their upper body pointing forwards, even their legs are used for paddling. If you like this more active paddling technique, you should select a kayak paddle with a bigger angle.

The first minutes after something had altered in the angle of the paddle blades appear uncommon. Yet, the paddle motion quickly adjusts to this. Mainly at the beginning, it should not be overstated.

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There Is More to This

Newbies who have never sat on a kayak before can be swamped by an overly big angle. Notably, a 60° angle is still right for beginners. Like this, there can be no wrong paddling technique, but newbies are accustomed to active usage of the body straight from the beginning.

The distinction between a paddle style where force arrives from the arms and a style that affects the whole body is that the second style demands more activity.

This indicates that it is harder to maintain balance. The sort of kayak also has an impact. For newbies, an active paddling style is thus more manageable to execute on a wide kayak than on a narrow boat.

During many tours, a fine sense of balance grows on a narrow touring kayak. A fall or two into the water is inevitable. Still, if you invest the time, you will enhance your balance. It should be noted that swapping to an active paddling technique can be challenging when you are in a slim kayak.

How to Employ a Feathered Paddle

Your command hand is the one nearest to the blade joining the water. It is supposed to be 6-12 inches up the shaft from the blade with your large knuckles lined up with the edge. Your other hand will carry the shaft to a similar length from the off-blade.

At the end of every stroke with your command hand, your off-hand will turn the shaft so that blade is prepared to join the water for the following stroke. Easing your hand and turning the shaft occurs between every stroke.

Notably, if you choose not to feather your paddle, you won’t need to turn your shaft between strokes. Make sure to keep your paddle without a close grip. Keep your grip firm, but comfortable, by all means. You’ll encounter less fatigue and help stop blisters and harm.

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Sit in Your Kayak Properly

Let’s concentrate on how you sit in your kayak for a moment. Know that you should be sitting upright—not tilting back. Your feet are supposed to rest firmly on the foot pedals. This goes without saying! Lastly, your knees need to be negligibly bent and a bit apart.

You’ll find one of the most critical distinctions between essential kayaks and higher-end ones is the quality and ease of the stool and back support.

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Final Verdict

The low wind opposition and sounder ergonomics are the causes of why the paddle blades on kayak paddles are set asymmetrically. If you wish to get into kayaking, you need to get used to offset kayak blades straight away.

Firstly, we suggest an inclination of 60°. As with other activities, the kayak gear must be adjusted for each kayaker. Many skilled paddlers swear by an inclination of 70 to 80°.

Other paddlers, on the flip side, have various thoughts. We hope that this guide has helped you and that you have taken a step ahead in your optimal perspective.

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