Rowing or paddling

First of all: When we go by kayak, we use paddles, not oars. An oar has one blade at one end of a stick that about halfway, turns around an axel on the rim of a rowing boat. Paddles, conversely, are not in contact with the boat. We hold them in our hands by the stick that unites the two blades.

There also exist paddles with one sole blade. These have got a handle at one end which we hold in one hand, while the other hand sustains the stick closer to the blade. This paddle we use for canoeing.

The kayak paddles

Now let’s focus on the kayak paddle, the one with the two blades. The blade has to enter in the water vertically, in order to find most resistance. Moreover we have to take care that the hollow part faces backwards when it enters into the water. Thus it “spoons” better.

The stages of the paddling

While one blade is under water, in the power stage, the other blade moves through the air horizontally. Thus it finds less resistance, which is convenient in the air stage. Herefore the perpendicular mounting of the blades on the stick. While one blade is in the water, during the power stage, the other blade moves through the air in a horizontal position. This way it finds less resistance: which is convenient during the air stage. Herefore the perpendicular assembly of the blades.

This was an invention by the Inuït, who built the first qayaqs, or kayaks, more than 4.500 years ago. Today,on Oliana’s Reservoir, in Lleida, the essence continues the same.

At Kayaks & Summits we’ve got paddles with symmetrical blades and others with asymmetrical blades. The first ones are more simple and it doesn’t matter which side we use each blade.

The blades

When we use paddles with asymmetrical blades, we have to take care that we hold them the way that the pointed edge sticks upward, and the rounded edge downward. The reason is, that always when the blade enters in the water, it’s in a diagonal position. The symmetrical blade has a bigger surface under the axle af the stick covered by the water. Conversely, shaping the blade asymmetrically, on both sides of the axle of the stick, the same surface is covered by the water. Therefore these blades are more stable.

There are many more details about the paddles we could comment, weight, stiffness, materials, carbon fibre… but for a first excursion or cruise we’ve learnt enough. Try it yourself, with Kayaks & Summits, on Oliana’s Lake in Lleida!

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