Monday, 27 April 2009

Mitchell Paddles Horizon Review

Owen Walton, a paddler from the Newcastle area north of Sydney, has emailed me a review of his Mitchell Horizon Greenland paddle:
"Due to some paddling aggravated shoulder problems (and no doubt initiated by advancing years) I recently purchased an Mitchell Greenland paddle, following advice from Graeme that his has assisted with his shoulder issues. I was lucky and picked this paddle up at the recent Rock'n'Roll auction for a very good price. Not only is it a beautiful looking piece of furniture, but it weighs even less than Annie's custom, short, all carbon paddle (750 Gm versus 840). The 1st time I used it, it felt like trying to paddle with a long stick! It just seemed to slip through the water with little resistance and not much else happening; (bit like a golf air swing). However, I was soon impressed by seeing the shoreline passing me by at a similar rate as I'm used to with my normal (conventional, Skee Carbon) paddle. I later surfed the Net reading up on the correct technique for using this paddle and viewed You Tube clips on the likes of Maligiaq (champion Inuit paddler) using them with great efficiently. I have been using this paddle now for some weeks and my opinion is that initially it definately accelerates the boat more slowly than the conventional (Euro) paddle, but when up to speed seems to get you along at a similar pace. To achieve this same pace I find I am using a higher cadence, but with much less effort, (resulting in less strain overall). With the oval shaped loom, it just sits beautifully in your hands with the upper leading edge canted forward at about 30 degrees, which is supposedly the most efficient angle for them to enter and be drawn through the water. Obviously there is no "wrist gymanastics" as the blades have no feather; further you are always fully aware of the blade angle, for any quick bracing etcYesterday I gave it a good workout in the Westerly gale force winds off Wangi. When I faced the long slog home into the wind, I was almost tempted to stow the Greenlander and reach for the Skee stowed on the front deck (security blanket syndrome?). However I carried on making slow but steady progress, without feeling as if I was straining. Another benefit is that the upper blade fells very little effect from the head wind (almost like a 90 degree feathered blade - but the Greenlander is also unaffected by side wind). Today, my shoulders are fine, whereas I'm certain that I would have had some after-affects from the effort of yesterday, had I been using my old paddle. I guess that the Eskimos must have learned something about paddling kayaks, as they have been doing it for over a thousand years." It's nice to see the properties of the Greenland paddle being recognised by someone, like me, new to the idea. Owen originally posted this on the excellent Hunter Kayak Klan website, an interactive site for the paddlers in his region to communicate & arrange trips, training etc. It's also worth a look for the lively discussion!

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