How to Choose a Paddle
There are three key factors to keep in mind when choosing what type of paddle to get:
3. Performance factors
A fourth factor which is important to some people is where a paddle is manufactured. Kialoa paddles are made in the US, Chinook are made in China and Apex are made in Canada.
RAP offers a variety of paddles to suit different needs.
How to Size a Dragon Boat Paddle
Deciding on length:
Ideal paddle length depends on the size and flexibility of the paddler and the technical style that has been chosen for the paddler’s crew. There are lots of ways to size a paddle.
A great way I have found is Apex Paddle’s Paddle Beaver at http://www.apexpaddles.com/choosing-the-right-length.html. For the style we coach at RAP this online calculator has predicted the paddle length I would choose face-to-face for a paddler to within 1/2 an inch every time. Here are the parameters I would enter for my style, however, make sure to enter the parameters that fit your situation and crew:
1. Your paddling experience on the sliding scale
2. Your height on the second sliding scale
3. Arm length as appropriate
4. Torso length as appropriate
5. Enter IDBF Certified Standard Boat
6. Enter Flat freshwater
7. No adjustment for bench
8. No adjustment for crew weight
9. No adjustment for stroke rate
10. Enter “you use a high set-up”
You will find the suggested paddle length in the top right corner above the order buttons.
Some paddles are fairly simple to cut down and others are not. In our inventory, the Chinook Diablo is simple, the others are not. If ordering a Diablo and you are in doubt about the length, I would suggest opting for longer paddle for the simple reason of a paddle can be shortened but not lengthened. For the other models of paddle, try to borrow paddles of a couple sizes to see you and your coach’s preference before committing to a paddle length.
T-grip or palm grip? I always want my athletes using a t-grip for the style I teach. However, the Chinook palm-grip is not the traditional palm grip but rather a palm/T-grip hybrid. With this, or the traditional t-grip, I find it easier to have the paddlers adopt an effective and consistent grip than with the bulbous traditional palm grip. In addition, most paddlers start with wood paddles with t-grips so staying with a t-grip maintains consistency. The Chinook palm-grip has more rounded edges than the t-grip and some paddlers prefer this and use it effectively. As a coach, I find I have to be a little more diligent in ensuring the paddlers keep a straight hold on this handle but with good care on their part as well as mine, this is not an issue.
How to Size an Outrigger Paddle
Kialoa offers good guidelines for sizing an outrigger paddle at http://www.kialoa.com/paddles-gear/stand-up-paddles/paddle-size.html. From these guidelines, it is best to try some paddles of the lengths within the suggested range and see what you and your coach feel suits you best. Most outrigger paddles have wood shafts and handles making it possible for a woodworking craftsman to cut them down quite easily so, if in doubt, choose a paddle that is a little longer rather than a little shorter.