BRAČA-SPORT paddles enjoyed great popularity at the World Championships and the Olympic Games of the millennium in Sydney. An overwhelming majority of the finalists used our paddles.
The Braca I is the original design and our most widely used paddle. A number of our other models were developed from this ever-popular classic shape. It is recommended for male athletes. (picture and text - http://www.braca-sport.com )
My newest toy is this high tech carbon fibre wing paddle! On his continuous quest for perfection one of the team members of the Dutch National Flatwater Kayak Selection changed his paddle brand. So I could take over an as good as new Braca I. I am so happy. Since a long time I want to experiment with a wing paddle. Once in a while I had a change to borrow one for an hour or so, but now I have got my own one and really can work on it!
First impressions after an hour paddling this morning: Wow! It feels enormous powerful and gives a great speed sensation. However, I must admit that, after just one try-out, it’s very difficult to say if it’s more than only the suggestion of power and speed. Checking with the GPS I noticed that there was no difference in the max speed I could make with the Euro-paddle or with the Wing. With both paddles over 11 km/h it felt as if I was paddling against a wall and I couldn’t make any more speed. As the Pintail isn’t known as a seakayak with a high hull speed, it is probably not the best kayak to do this test. I also tried out a flatwater-touringkayak of Wyrda. I could paddle that kayak on a higher speed level without fighting against my own bow wave, so I suppose in a faster kayak there should be more difference noticeable in max speed between the Euro and the wing.
It is even more difficult to make objective comparisons about cruising-speed. I paddled the Pintail with the Wing comfortable at 9 km/h, but I can’t say if that took more or less effort than with the Euro-blade. I suppose it costs less energy. I did my favourite test round (“het rondje Singel”) paddling fast, without pushing it to the limit, in 17.45 min. My best time before with the Pintail was 18.20 min. My personal record on this course is (with the Svalbard - a faster seakayak than the Pintail) 17.20 min. I made that record the first time I did “rondje Singel” with a stopwatch, more than a year ago, and since then I never came close to this PR.
After trying out speed, I did some experiments with the handling of the Wing paddle. Rolling left and right didn’t give any problem. The butterfly-roll (one of the rolls I learned from Freya) also went perfect. But that is no wonder: as a matter of fact you don’t need a paddle for the butterfly-roll (without a paddle: call it a hand-roll!). The big surprise came with the re-entry with an extended paddle: normally one of the easier exercises, but this time: I hardly made it! It took me 3 times before I could come up with the Wing Paddle. I really had to figure out how to keep the paddle-blade from diving. The asymmetric shape of the blade requires much attention. Sculling also proved to be a challenge, but I made it on the right side.
The awkward thing about the handling of the wing I found the behaviour with all those small corrective strokes you normally make without even thinking about it. With a moving kayak and strokes like the bow draw or rudder the wing blade tends to “bite” suddenly in the water. I have to work on that!
Altogether: I do realise I still have to learn to adapt my paddle style to the wing. That will cost some time, and I am looking for an experienced wing-paddler near Woerden to coach me. First I want to concentrate on the forward stroke: hoping for more speed on longer distances. There is an old K1-racing kayak at Wyrda, no one uses it: in the next months it’s mine!