Feathering the paddle

It is important that you know how your paddle is feathered. You are the only one who can feel if the feathering suit your paddling style. The best way to determine if the feathering is correct, is to change it slightly from time to time.

There is a direct connection between the feathering of your paddle, and how steep you are holding it when paddling. If these two angels do not correspond, it is impossible to obtain an effective powerful stroke. (please refer to "Paddling style")

As paddlers we keep practising - trying to improve our style. Many succeed, but many find it difficult to achieve and gain the power; that comes with a steeper style. The reason is often that the paddles feathering, isn't adjusted for a steep paddling style.

Style and feathering is two of a kind. For many paddlers the right way of changing the style is just a question of adjusting the feathering. Often the style will improve by itself when the feathering is adjusted. Try for instance to feather the paddle a little more, and feel how the arms automatically comes up higher.

Paddlers, who practise to improve their style, should be aware of the paddles feathering. You can learn a lot by adjusting the feathering a little. Change it a bit, feel the influence on your own body and then change it a bit the other way. Soon you'll have a good feeling of the right feathering for your individual style.

In order to make comparisons you should measure and record the original feathering angel. That way it is possible to adjust the paddle back to the exact same angle as you started from. Or, if the change was for the better, you'll know exactly how much you've adjust it.

Some paddles have a unit on the handle which makes it possible to adjust the feathering and the length – it might seem like a good idea, but it is very difficult to handle in practice. Be aware that not all such devices are reliable. If there is a scale of the angles it ought to be checked. For example consider a normal handle, with a diameter of 30 mm. In this case 10° of feathering corresponds to only 2.62 mm on a scale around the handle.

How to find the feathering that fits you !

While the kayak is not moving, you hold the paddle with the left hand, put the blade into the water in the right side, at the same spot as you normally do. Twist until it is accurately feathered ( please refer to “Feathering the stroke” ) – with a right 90° angel to the centre line of the kayak. Now it is time to grip the paddle with your right hand –keeping the wrist straight – and hold it in a “tight grip”.

Now the right hand is in the right position, in relation to the feathering – and because the right hand doesn't let go of the paddle during a stroke, and because your wrist is straight – the paddle will always be correctly feathered when you place it into the water – in the right side of the kayak.

Now you start paddling, keep an eye on the left hand blade, observing how it is feathered in the water - what i call: "featering of the stroke".

· If it is over-feathered (please refer to “Feathering the stroke” ), then go ashore and increase the feathering of your paddle.
Or try to make your style lower, until the feathering of the stroke in the left side is correct as well.

· If it is under-feathered (please refer to “Feathering the stroke” ), then go ashore and reduce the feathering of your paddle.
Or try to make your style steeper, until the feathering of the stroke in the left side is correct as well.

In other words: When" the feathering of the stroke" is to low, than "the feathering of the paddle" is to high - or the other way around.

This description is for right-hand control paddles only; - if your paddle is left-hand controlled you just start with the left hand.

It is not possible to recommend an ideal feathering – but the paddle is constructed to be held steep in the water.

I have observed however, that a lot of paddlers with a feathering at 70° , has an elegant and effective style, and I have been measuring 74° on the paddles of some of Denmark 's best paddlers.


The paddle




Paddle assembly

Feathering the paddle

Right or Left

Per Hallum
+45 51 24 99 36
ph @ paddle-web.com