K1 Marathon paddle length?

4 years 7 months ago #35086 by kayakercon
Hi there community. I know there are a million posts on paddle selection (I have read them all), but one piece of info I haven't found a satisfactory answer for is recent thoughts on paddle length for K1 Marathon paddling. I know this is a surfski forum, but was hoping some cross-over paddlers might have some thoughts.

Basically, when I first did sprints (1000m) back in the day, the advice was "stand your paddle up and reach up and you should just be able to wrap your finger tips over the top blade." I still see that offered on the few sprint resource pages I have found, and perhaps it is still true for sprints.

But what I am wondering is, do athletes competing in K1 marathon today run shorter paddle lengths? What kind of lengths do you run?

It would also be helpful to know your height,  level of paddling, and style of blade (parallel, teardrop) if you want to list your lengths. For reference, I'm 5'11, 75kgs, and fairly fit/strong.


Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

4 years 7 months ago #35088 by waverider
Problem with that simplistic rule is it takes into no account variations in an individuals proportions. Long legs compared to torso, vs short legs etc. as you paddle in a seated position your leg length is irrelevant to paddle selection, but the above rule would suggest someone with long legs (torso being the same ) should have a longer paddle.

I guess a more accurate measure is to sit in the boat go through the paddle motion and the length the puts the blade just below the water and no deeper is the correct length. assuming your technique is correct.

Of course you cant do that in a store standing next to a rack of paddles. Hence the advantage of the adjustable paddles, so can fine tune that in your boat, and in accordance with your paddle style.

To be really accurate put some bright tape at the blade junction and have yourself videoed from the side and you will see how deep you are actually putting your paddle.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

4 years 7 months ago #35089 by [email protected]
I just asked Nikki Mocke (world class surfski paddler with two world champs medals in marathons).

She said that she used the same paddle for both disciplines, but a shorter length for surfski.  She said some paddlers might use a bigger blade for marathons.

Also asked Pete Cole, long time coach of world champs winning marathon and surfski paddlers.  He said most of his paddlers also use the same blades across disciplines.  In general, depending on conditions, shorter shaft length for surfski.

Then you've got someone like Oscar Chalupsky who changes the length of his paddle during surfski races.  More recently Hank McGregor and Andrew Birkett have reportedly been changing paddle length during marathon races (shorter towards the end of the race).

In terms of length - Oscar goes from about 2:16 to 2:10 depending on conditions and how he's feeling.  Longer for downwind when he's feeling fresh, shorter when tired or into wind.

Oscar maintains (and it makes sense) that paddle length is akin to gears on a bicycle.  Problem (for me) is that it takes a great deal more skill to change the paddle length in mid-race than gears on a bike!

Then there's Dawid Mocke, multiple surfski world series champion, and has competed at the highest level at marathons.  Uses a Fenn 4 (similar to braca IV).  Length in the sea: 2:13, in marathon 2:16.  His height is 1.83m/6ft and weight 85-90kg!

Sean Rice, surfski world champ in 2013 and several world marathon medals: 2:12 in the sea, 2:14 on the flat.  1.87m/6'2" 200lb/91kg  Sean uses a Jantex blade, not sure what model.

I can probably find out what blade/length Hank McGregor (multiple marathon and surfski and sprint and river champion!) uses.  He's in France at the surfski world champs today.  (When I chatted with him in Mauritius earlier this year, he said that he's constantly experimenting with blades and setup.)

But that should give you some idea!

Here's a good article that discusses this and other issues.



Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Wiid

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

4 years 7 months ago #35091 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic K1 Marathon paddle length?
You can start with using the epic paddle wizard.  Epic paddle wizard
That doesn't take into account torso length, but it does factor in boat design and paddling style, so it gives you a starting place to work from.
I don't see why anyone would get a fixed length paddle. Calculate a length using the epic wizard, buy a paddle with a length so that you can adjust 3cm either side of that calculated length.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #35096 by kayakercon
Wow! Thank you so much! Very informative replies.

Thank you Rob for canvasing so many great cross-over paddlers. I really appreciate it. Seems like people use a bit shorter lengths than I thought. Also, good to see a pattern that paddlers generally go just 2-3 cms longer for marathon. I'll try a slightly shorter length for surfski, and then try a few cms longer than that in my K1.

And thanks mrcharly-- I have used the Epic paddle wizard in the past, but it always seemed  to recommend lengths that seemed short compared to what I have been told I should use (in the past, by sprint paddlers). But I just tried it again, for surfski and marathon K1, and the recommended length for K1 was 3 cms longer than the length it recommended I use in surfski, and both of those were a bit shorter than I have been using. That really aligns with what Rob wrote-- a bit shorter lengths than I though and a 2-3 cm difference between surfski and marathon! So the Paddle Wizard results seem like a good place for me to start experimenting with for both surfski and K1!

And good idea waverider. I'll try the tape and get a friend to film me with a couple different lengths.
Last edit: 4 years 7 months ago by kayakercon.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics