Forget personal preference or wind resistance. Here is how to set your paddle feather accurately for a neutral wrist position based on science. Prevent further injury to your wrists. Get more comfort and higher performance out of your stroke with this simple technique that very few people know about.
Key Points (For Right Handed Paddlers)
- Historically paddles were first set to 0 degrees feather. This resulted in wind drag on the top blade when sea kayaking into a headwind.
- The solution to the headwind issue was to set the feather to 90 degrees – which results in too much wrist rotation with each left stroke. Paddlers got sore wrists over time, and strokes were not as powerful as they could be.
- The reason your left blade twists with each left stroke is due to the mechanical rotation that your shoulder creates as you switch sides.
- The higher and further across you take your top hand, the more feather you will need to set your paddle square in the water while still maintaining a straight top wrist.
- Test for yourself with an adjustable paddle. Get on the water. Open the adjuster. Take your regular stroke, setting the left blade into the water square. Grip your right hand on the key and rotate the shaft so your right wrist is neutral. Lock down the adjuster. Trial and re-test until you are getting minimum wrist movement consistently on both sides.
- Cruisy sea kayakers and recreational paddles with relaxed strokes will find 15-20 degrees to work well.
- Most whitewater paddlers will find somewhere between 30-55 degrees will work depending on how vertical their stroke is.
- Multisport and surf ski paddlers will general use higher paddle feather around 55-80 degrees, again depending on how vertical or advanced your technique is.