Ivan Lawler's paddle torque balancer...!

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40429 by [email protected]
Fascinating gadget from Ivan Lawler:



In essence:

When you hold a wing paddle horizontally in front of you, there's a torque moment that tends to roll the shaft away from you, caused by the offset of the blades from the shaft. The blades want to be closer to the floor as you hold the paddle.

Ivan's gadget comprises a weight on a lever that balances the torque.

While applauding the innovation, I question what he says in the video:

Torque is measured in Nm. His description of "effective weight" in kg has no meaning. What he means is that the torque is equivalent to approximately 1.3kg at 15mm from the centre of the shaft = approx 0.19Nm. He proposes to balance this out with a 200gm weight on a lever of approx 7cm length.

How does this help?

It helps because your hand/forearm no longer has to work against the torque; the paddle no longer tries to twist away from you.

At the point that the paddle is in mid stroke i.e. horizontal in front of you, the torque is at its maximum. But that torque diminishes as the paddle goes vertical - and is zero when the paddle is vertical. The torque changes throughout the stroke and your hand and forearm muscles perform work to resist it.

When you have the 200g balancer on your paddle, the torque will be balanced out - so your wrist/arm muscles will no longer have to counteract it. But... your arm muscles WILL have to perform increased work to hold and move the extra 200gm weight - (which is about 30% of the weight of my Epic paddle.)

So the question to me is: will the benefit of no longer having to balance the dynamic torque exerted on the paddle shaft by the blades, outweigh the extra work to move a 30% heavier paddle?

There may be other factors involved too - perhaps the balanced shaft will feel so comfortable that your stroke becomes perceptibly more efficient? I don't know.

How would I feel about having a lump of metal waving about in front of my face as I approach the beach break at the end of a 30kt downwind? Hmm... Not sure about that!

But it is something new and interesting - and perhaps my skepticism will be blown out the water! I can see many people at least trying it - and who knows, maybe it's the next revolution in paddles...

Rob

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...

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40431 by Tinus
I thought that having the paddle automatically go to the brace position if you release your grip sounded like a good thing rather than a bad thing.
I also immediately started trying to make my own balancer because I do want to try it :)

Nelo 560, 600

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40432 by [email protected]

I thought that having the paddle automatically go to the brace position if you release your grip sounded like a good thing rather than a bad thing.
I also immediately started trying to make my own balancer because I do want to try it :)

Haha - good point!

Give us feedback if you do try it!

Rob

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...

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40433 by [email protected]
I asked Greg Barton (Epic Kayaks CEO, sprint Olympian, Surfski and paddle designer) what he thought.

Interesting concept. The question is if the benefit is greater than the increased weight and added complexity.

The fact that the blades are tilted forward (making them unbalanced in your hands) actually makes them track better in the water. A well designed wing blade will track smoothly behind the pulling hand. So I wouldn’t expect to see much of a benefit during the power phase of the stroke when the blades are in the water.

When exiting from the stroke on your control side and setting up for the catch on your non-control side, you are working against an unbalanced paddle. So this phase of the stroke would likely see the most benefit/improvement. On the other side – exiting the stroke on the non-control side and setting up for the catch on your control side, the unbalance actually works in your favor. However, it may want to “overshoot” the optimal amount of shaft rotation, so Ivan’s new gadget could potentially help on this transition phase as well.

In addition to the theoretical efficiency of a paddle, there is a benefit to having a paddle that feels more secure/stable and in control. So even if the power benefit of this item doesn’t noticeably exceed the weight penalty, there could still be some benefit from a comfort/stability standpoint.

I would expect this to be outlawed in surf lifesaving unless it was encapsulated in foam padding. Otherwise it’s a potential dangerous projectile when bashing in and out through waves.

The only way to tell for sure is time using Ivan’s invention amongst multiple paddlers. Eventually, any benefit will be realized (or not) and more people will either gravitate to using it, or it will be discarded by the top paddlers. This has shown itself with other innovations in competitive paddling. A few years after the wing paddle was introduced, the advantages became very clear and anybody not using one was at a noticeable disadvantage. The crank shaft paddle (first used by Richard Fox in whitewater slalom) is another story. Many sprint paddlers tried it and Martin Hunter even won a medal at the World Championships using one. But after a few years, there did not appear to be any speed advantage and it was no longer used by any top sprint, marathon or surfski paddlers. Some interest in the crank shaft remained amongst paddlers in slalom and other whitewater disciplines (although popularity in high level slalom events appears to be declining).

Of course everything I mention above is just my interpretation. I have not actually used it (yet) to know if my thoughts are correct. Time will tell if Ivan is on the right track or not. I’m sure that Ivan has put in a lot of time and effort testing his prototypes, so I suspect he is confident in the advantages.
--

Best regards,

Greg Barton

Epic Kayaks, Inc. www.epickayaks.com

Designed by World Champions

Rob

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...
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9 months 2 weeks ago #40435 by zachhandler
We don’t need counterbalances. It is simply a matter of teaching ourselves to paddle with 180 degree feather…

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40436 by zachhandler
Just trying to offer a little levity

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40438 by [email protected]
:-)

Rob

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...

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40439 by mrcharly
I pretty much agree with everything Rob said.
I've met Ivan, and he's a great bloke (as well as an amazing athlete).

He isn't an engineer.

I suspect that his gadget will be helpful for some designs and pointless for others.

Ivan used to prefer the older style of parallel-sided wing blades. Not sure if he uses Jantex Gamma - which I find has very little imbalance and is a 'neutral' blade. Ditto the epic mid wing. Some of the braca designs have a lot of cant, and hence imbalance.

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9 months 2 weeks ago - 9 months 2 weeks ago #40442 by zachhandler
With an extra half a pound of metal affixed to the shaft there has never been a better time to bring back Steve Gurney’s “Anti-Gravity-Paddle-Levitation-Device”. Also solves problem of losing a paddle off shore. And probably is a somewhat effective sea anchor if you get separated from the ski!

cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0060/8593/5194...480.jpg?v=1624875132

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
Last edit: 9 months 2 weeks ago by zachhandler.

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9 months 2 weeks ago - 9 months 2 weeks ago #40443 by SpaceSputnik

I asked Greg Barton (Epic Kayaks CEO, sprint Olympian, Surfski and paddle designer) what he thought.
...Some interest in the crank shaft remained amongst paddlers in slalom and other whitewater disciplines (although popularity in high level slalom events appears to be declining).
...
I know that's pretty close to irrelevant to the context of this thread, but bent/cranked shafts still hold their steady share in white water and sea kayaking. Not because they make you faster or slower, but rather due to perceived ergonomic advantages as well as benefits in bracing and control strokes of which there is a far greater variety than in surkskiing. It is, however a matter of personal preference, but I would not say it is in any way a passing fad.
Last edit: 9 months 2 weeks ago by SpaceSputnik.

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9 months 2 weeks ago #40446 by Brian York
I have been testing a counter ballance and some preliminary short term testing reports.

My results are subjective and It should be noted that I’m a zero degree feather paddler. My r&d counter ballance (see pic) is attached to my Braca XI 735.



At zero degree feather the center of gravity offset due to the canted blade angle is most pronounced and I must overcome this on every stroke. The paddle naturally wants to rotate to concave side up. This is good for bracing but counterproductive for the setup/catch.

As a zero degree paddler I’m controlling the paddle entry/catch angle with both hands rather than a high feathered paddler who would have a more or less fixed control hand.

Basically after the exit and somewhere during the recover/setup phase of the stroke I have to manually induce about 30 degrees (per side) of rotation into the paddle shaft so that my blade is setup for a clean catch. This work is mostly done with as my exit hand and forearm as it becomes my top hand.

The positive results:

Feathering the paddle from exit to catch position take much less effort and seem to happen automatically.

Recovery phase seems more productive in that I can relax more while maintaining a looser grip on the paddle.

Negative results:

Paddle doesn’t default to brace position eg. concave side up. It hasn’t caused me any issues yet but I did perceive a negligible difference.

Added weight to paddle. Suprisingly it’s not that noticeable. The weight is centered on the shaft so it’s not adding a lot of swinging weight.
Noteworthy that less weight can be utilized by increasing the length of the ballast bar/moment arm. Extra light blade constructions should be considered a great benefit.
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9 months 2 weeks ago #40449 by zachhandler

I have been testing a counter ballance and some preliminary short term testing reports. .

Brian - you are awesome! This is more actual information on this device then the rest of the internet combined at this point. My buddies and I are debating this thing to death and havr concluded nothing in the time that you designed, built, tested, and made insightful observations about one!

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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9 months 1 week ago #40461 by Selkie
I have been testing Ivan's prototype for the last week...including

2 x long paddle trips circa 30 miles min per day
2 x downwind sessions
Touring and exploring ie stop-start with plenty of manoeuvring in caves, gullies etc.

I posted my first thoughts last week in the Surfski Kayak Facebook group. I have deliberately held off further feedback until I used Ivan's set-up video to fine-tune the position. I had it slightly off on my first paddle test.

My experience so far:

I normally paddle with 0 feathers but also tried this with 60' feather. My findings so far match Brian's previous post. To get the best out of the FW it is vital to set it up right. Ivan's video explains this in detail. For the first time, this is the tricky bit. Then worth making a mark for when removed for any reason to rinse etc. When correct there is no counter roll. The shaft sits where ever you place it.

During my offshore surf runs, I found it natural and noticeably less effort to set up and exit the stroke.

For long-distance paddling the same held true. It is different and in changeable conditions, I did find myself 2nd guessing my stoke at times. On the longer trips, I swapped paddles occasionally to get feedback from others and to note the differences. It was then that I realised just how much extra effort was required to rotate the 0' feather into set up position. I found this fascinating how we automatically do what we do. Body, blade memory.

On the long return trip conditions changed which meant paddling side on to wind and waves around Gnarly headlands etc. This called for some spontaneous bracing that I sometimes had to think about until it become more natural.

Surfski Kayak on Facebook
www.facebook.com/groups/395803743862021
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9 months 1 week ago #40462 by [email protected]
@Brian and @Selkie - thanks for your posts... fascinating!

What I'm getting from your posts is that the FW makes the paddle feel perceptibly different. But is that perceptibly "better"? And if so, what's "better" about it?

I was remarking again on the last few downwinds how light and comfortable my paddle (Epic - 680g) feels - and how I don't feel the effort to rotate it to set it up for the catch, etc. Obviously there's 20 years of muscle memory involved.

I'm curious to try it for myself.

Most of my paddling is done in at least rough conditions, my passion is downwind paddling and I suffer flat water to train for downwind. So I'm a little dubious about having a sticky-out thing on the paddle shaft in case I take a wave from the front and have it smashed into me. (I broke a paddle a year ago, driving an S3 which has a short nose and can take green water over the nose in big conditions. Like an idiot I held the paddle in front of me instead of diagonally with one end up. Upshot was that the wave smashed the paddle into my chest and the force broke one of the blades right off.)

Anyway - gadgets, gadgets, all good - please continue to share your findings!

Rob

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...

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9 months 1 week ago #40463 by Brian York
Rob,

My theory is that the counterbalance will pay the most dividends to 0 degree paddlers like myself and Selkie have experienced. The following is my subjective thoughts and beliefs and experiences, I have also over simplified some of the explanation for the sake of keeping it simple.

I'll do my best to explain the biomechanics and why I believe if you're a feather right or left paddle you may not notice as much benefit.

The biomechanics of an efficient surfski stroke are going to require about 60 degrees, give or take of blade rotation from one side to the other. This can be accomplished in a couple ways with the most common method to feather the blades of the paddle in which case you with have a fixed control hand, either right or left. The other method is to leave the paddle and 0 degrees in which case you end up controlling the paddle with both hands, each side inducing about 30 degrees of rotation for a combined 60 degrees. Same net result just a different way of getting there.

Zero degree paddles arguably have an easier time getting started in surfski because the paddle and stroke is symmetrical and the paddle easily defaults to a brace position on either side. This default to brace position (blade concave up) is because the C.G. of the blades in off the C.G. axis of the shaft as shown in Ivan's video. This is great when you're learning, stability is not there yet etc. however if like me you will discover some issues along the road as your stability and stroke improves. I found as my stability improved I relied more on a good catch and less and less on a typical brace stroke to stay upright. Brace strokes are now reserved for surfing and the occasional "oh shite" moments as they should be.

As you progress with a zero degree paddle you will need to get away from default brace (blade concave up) to default catch (blade concave down). This requires more thought and work to overcome the natural forces imposed on a zero degree paddle. The other caveat to zero degree paddling is that there is a moment somewhere in the recover phase of the stoke where you are shifting control from one hand to the other. In this moment there may be a split second of no control in which case the paddle will natural rotate to heavy side down or blade concave up. This is where the counter balance really shines. Setup properly I find the counter balance corrects the paddle to a catch position during the recovery phase. This seemingly make the setup of the catch easier as well as improving recovery as there is little to no work being done there as it should be.

Now back to why a right or left hand feathered paddle should notice less benefits...

1). You have likely put say for example 60 degrees of feather into your paddle blades and as we know the paddle balances back at 180 degrees offset so for simplicities sake you've done a 33% correction right there.

2). You're control hand grip is more or less a fixed as opposed to a zero degree paddler. Specifically in the recover phase so although and to a lesser degree you are still overcoming of the paddles off balance weight the paddle itself is not as likely to freely rotate to the C.G. low position.

Lastly, I did fail to mention in my prior post that a 3rd and obvious observation that you have a aesthetically unsightly chunk of metal hanging off your paddle. Smoothing the hard edges and a rubber of foam covering is recommended.
It has not caused me any problems as of yet will try a remount to see if it complicates anything.

Note: Paddle flotation should be checked prior to use. My paddle still floats albeit much lower in the water. The bit of foam padding may help get some buoyancy back.

Personally speaking I'm a form follows function kind of guy so I'm going to continue the experiment.
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9 months 1 week ago #40464 by waverider
As far as having a lump of metal protruding, what if you had a bend shaft in the centre bowing towards you that way you could have a flush weight which would not be as cumbersome. Bending the shaft in itself would offset some of the weight before adding much mass.. Though it would cause issues for enabling an adjustable paddle, but quite achievable for a fixed length shaft

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9 months 1 week ago #40468 by Brian York
From an engineering and manufacturing perspective Ivan's design is correct.

To balance out the inherent torque the blades impose on the shaft you need an end ballasted moment arm (rod) attached to the shaft to oppose these forces.

Ideally the clamp and moment arm that being the rod are centered on the shaft an made of the lightest material possible. Eg, aluminum, titanium, carbon.
Since torque is a functional relation of weight and distance, more weight less distance required or less weight at a greater distance. The rod should be adjustable in length so the user can obtain a happy ratio of weight to protrusion distance. The ballast weight should be a dense material such as Lead, Tungsten or stainless steel, should also be incrementally adjustable and preferably in the shape of a disks or various size balls.

Once again manufacturing ultra light blades would be the the greatest cure for blade induced torque on the paddle shaft. In the literal sense an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The pitfalls of a curved shaft are:
Complex to manufacture
More costly to manufacture
Will add some undesirable mass however in the right direction
Flexural properties may not be desirable
As stated likely loss of adjustment

Just a thought but maybe the ballast weight could be arranged as a Garmin type devise mount thus giving a little more purpose.

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