Feathered

Posted: June 19, 2008 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Gear Reviews, Paddles

Have you noticed that your paddle has the ability to offset the blades?  Some paddles have more than one hole in the center of it.  While other paddles have an easy adjustable ferrule button.  The offset configuration lays one blade flat to the water; where as, the other paddle stands more vertical to the water. Kayakers call a paddle that has offset blades feathered. The blades are sometimes angled 30° to 90° along the shaft of the paddle. Many experts, books, web sites, instructors, and sales people contest that their opinions on the advantages and disadvantages on using a feathered paddle are the correct ones. Unfortunately, the aforementioned beliefs are sometimes contradictory or ambiguous.

feathered paddle

Staying in the kayak is why we as kayakers use a feathered paddle. The offset blades main objective is to aid the kayaker in quick recovery bracing techniques. A person can still brace and remain upright when using a non-feathered paddle; however, it is not as efficient. Certified instruction is the best way to learn safe bracing techniques.

Reading about and watching videos on the high and low brace without proper classroom instruction is dangerous. Instructors will aid you in getting into the proper anatomical position.

Wind is not a major factor in a feathered paddle. The ability to slice through wind is not a main benefit to an offset paddle blades. The decreased wind resistance on a forward stroke is only a minor advantage of feathering a paddle.

Some even think that the notion of wind traveling sideways towards the kayak is a reason not to feather the blades. A crosswind rarely can catch the flattened blade and nock the kayaker off balance.

Kayakers feather their paddle to decrease the worry of unplanned rolling through bracing. It is bracing with a feathered paddle that quickly keeps the kayaker in a dry and upright position. A trained instructor will assist you better in refining these bracing movements with a feathered paddle.

It is frustrating to come across conflicting advantages and disadvantages of a feathered paddle. The misinformation exists due to the large number of experts, books, web sites, instructors, and sales people. All of these experts have different levels of knowledge, training, and personal kayaking experiences. The best thing that a kayaker should do is get out there, get some personal instruction, and have fun.

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