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PostPosted: September 15th, 2005, 5:39 am 
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pknoerr wrote:
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For me it really doesn't matter why it feels good, only that it does.


Exactly.

Most people don't care and it really doesn't matter from the individual's standpoint as I know of no one who died because their paddle was not the most efficient possible. But, consider the difference between two ads.

The first ad for Magical Mystery Paddles says that their paddles produce more power, more efficiently and with less stress and strain on the paddler's body. They offer no supporting tests etc.

Now consider Joe Blow Paddles. He says, I make a paddle that I think you will like. Try it and see if it doesn't feel good to you.

Which sounds more honest?

I know we have become jaded by advertising and hyperbolic claims but ........

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2005, 12:26 pm 
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John,

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The first ad for Magical Mystery Paddles says that their paddles produce more power, more efficiently and with less stress and strain on the paddler's body. They offer no supporting tests etc.

Now consider Joe Blow Paddles. He says, I make a paddle that I think you will like. Try it and see if it doesn't feel good to you.

Which sounds more honest?


Well, I re-read the article and IMO, the writer is not being deceptive or misleading at all, in the description of the paddle's properties. Right up front, are qualifying statements saying that this is not the perfect paddle for racing, whitewater, or shallows, but the writer's dream design that developed over thirty years of paddlemaking with influence from Omer Stringer and native paddlemakers.

The claims being made are clear and straightforward - the paddle was designed as a result of long-term experience in paddlemaking. Saying that the claims made lack credibilty because the paddle performance hasn't been lab-tested and quantified, is something like saying that a reputable brand of ice cream has no business advertising for high quality, unless the chemical characteristics describing why are printed on the label. Or that Bill Mason's canoeing and paddling techniques are invalid because they also haven't been tested and quantified in the lab.

Sorry, John, but there are qualities like expertise and technical know-how that build up with experience, and in this case, credibility that's built up with time. It's clear to me that the development of this paddle was made on that basis.

Trying to overlay a different set of performance criteria on the paddle is fine and can be done independently by a testing lab or some other facility, if the money's there for it. For the writer's purposes, that's not necessary. The anecdotal reasons given for the paddle being well-designed, and a fine instrument for it's intended use, are good enough.

Rick

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2005, 12:44 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:

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Sorry, John, but there are qualities like expertise and technical know-how that build up with experience, and in this case, credibility that's built up with time. It's clear to me that the development of this paddle was made on that basis


You can accept any opinions you want. You obviously have a high regard for the paddle maker's credibility.

Please do not consider me rude if I do not respond to further posts by you on this topic. One cannot carry on a dialogue over personal opinions.You have no time for science and I have no time for opinions. That's life.

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2005, 12:50 pm 
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Jwinters, frozentripper Fella's perhaps a Grok Duel would help work this out................... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2005, 1:25 pm 
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The issue isn't whether the paddle is a quality paddle, or finely made. It's claims about efficiency. Claims about efficiency, or speed, or any other actually measurable claim need to be scientifically evaluated before that claim can be made. In this case, the paddle maker can't make claims that this paddle is more efficient if he hasn't undergone the effort to actually measure how efficient the paddle is compared to other paddles. Maybe his claims are correct, but as Johns says, if there isn't proof, it's just salesmanship.

Jeff Solway has long written articles for Canoe and Kayak, and C&K's annual "Canoe Journal. He's more into the zen of paddling, as opposed to this is the paddle that transmits the most power with the least effort. He likes to coast along silently, and enjoy the feeling of a quality paddle, more than getting scientific about it.

This doesn't discredit Jeff for his workmanship, or his personal experience. But making scientific claims without the evidence to back them up is just blowing smoke.

That all said, as I've stated before, I've paddled the paddle. It's nice, but I've found other paddles that are atleast as nice, that feel better to me. I have no idea whether these paddles are more efficient... and make no claims.

PK


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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 12:27 am 
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I get tired of seeing claims that this sock or that boot or this glove or that jacket "will keep you toasty warm". Obviously the qualities of the garment are only part of what "keeps you warm". I've been cold, or had cold feet or hands while wearing any garments for which such claims are made. Why do they make such stupid claims? It's the triumph of marketing hype over useful information.

Anyone who claims their paddle "produces more power" should explain what sort of engine is built into the paddle. Otherwise it is proof of either dishonesty or ignorance. Because from what's known about paddles and physics, it's impossible for a paddle to produce power. Maybe we could generate green electricity with paddle farms!

But such fatuous claims find a receptive audience. Why else would MEC's catalogs, the voice of a member-owned organization that cultivates an image of delivering the straight goods to our peers, be so laden with shameless hype?

Because lots of people like it. They'd rather be charmed by skillful bs, than know the facts. So they vote for people like some of our politicians. Mulroney comes to mind. Another example is people courting, both fully aware the other is bs'ing, but charmed dizzy by clever delivery of falsehoods.

Many people would rather be in a trancelike state about the transcendental paddle they bought, than go to the trouble of figuring out exactly the true qualities of that paddle. There are people who get entertainment from hype, and those who get entertainment from maximizing potential.

Even the "best" paddle, unless carefully customized for every user, (not to mention their various uses of a paddle) is going to be sub-optimal for most, much of the time, and so will be a risk factor for strains etc. and inefficient for most people most of the time.

How about some tests, with paddlers using goggles that keep them from seeing their paddles, and a gps to check speed. Paddle for hours and compare distance to paddling injuries. Surely that could test some claims about paddles without needing a million dollars worth of test equipment.

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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 5:04 am 
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Sgrant wrote:
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How about some tests, with paddlers using goggles that keep them from seeing their paddles, and a gps to check speed. Paddle for hours and compare distance to paddling injuries. Surely that could test some claims about paddles without needing a million dollars worth of test equipment.


Dead on.

A group of interested people set up such a test out of curiosity about twenty years ago. I wish we had gone further with it but time and distances between interested parties made it very inconvenient and none of us were professional paddle makers. We did get some good ideas about grip and shaft sizes that were later back-up by some data from the good old US Army ergomonics data that some one dug up.

On my own I built a test tank and tested blade shapes for their characteristics and published the results in the old Canoesport Jounal.

The tank cost me about Fifty dollars to make. There was a picture of it in the article. The test took several days. I have talked with a number of paddle makers and suggested they do likewise but none were interested.

There is a surprising amount of test data on paddles mostly from those developing the wing kayak blade. Although the paddles were developed for racing the tests included conventional paddles as a base for comparison.

I bet that this group could rather easily come up with those factors that affect how we perceive paddles ands how various physical characteristics influence that perception. I confess I have done that but I would find it interesting to hear what others say since you can't learn much by carressing your own ideas (OK, don't get kinky!) . :D :D

Returning to the web site in question, it would be interesting to hear what people think about the explanation of how the flex works and how it compares to the physics they probably learned in high school.

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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 7:54 am 
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PK,

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This doesn't discredit Jeff for his workmanship, or his personal experience. But making scientific claims without the evidence to back them up is just blowing smoke.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but where are the scientific claims that Jeff's making? There was no formal science used in developing the paddle, instead the paddle evolved more or less naturally through craftsmanship, and trial and error, and the subjective qualities are described in that context.

As for the Grok duel that Komatiq suggests (and I know you're only kidding, K), it'd be all too easy for me to argue for the quantitative approach to evaluating paddle design. As an environmental scientist, presenting quantitative field data is standard procedure and in the case of the paddle, the argument to reduce qualities down to a few key variables is easily understood. But I'm not going to - the statements that will be made are all too predictable and resolve nothing.

I was going to drop this subject long ago, since it's trivial and people will buy whatever paddle they damn well feel like buying based on subjective feel and fit, but there is something in the undercurrent here that's important in the larger scheme of things as it relates to paddling and wilderness canoeing.

Jeff Solway seems to be a writer that tends towards the artistic side of life - I didn't know that, but PK was good enough to point that out. I can't tell you the number of times, as an environmental scientist, I've had to argue for protecting some lake or landscape feature in front of a hard-nosed group of planners and engineers, and seen how the complexity and diversity of nature isn't seen or recognized by those outside the science. And how they fail to appreciate natural qualities recognized by wilderness-oriented individuals because hard numbers aren't there to back up the value of some threatened, wild spot on the surface of the earth.

Qualities like sublime landscapes, the magical moments described by some spending time in the wild, the song of the paddle described by Bill Mason while canoeing long distances, and all the rest running so often through the outdoors literature, all these things are real on a human, subjective level... and yet can be shot down and discredited so easily by scientists and engineers who claim there are no hard numbers that can relate to and validate these abstractions.

It's so easy to dismiss these qualities if electronic instruments and computers are the only way of verifying their value. But most would agree that these are real on a human basis, and they exist in human subjective experience. The enjoyment of nature and wilderness is subjective - some will deny those values and others will be accepting, and take pleasure from the quality that still exists n the wilds today.

I think this is the type of quality that Jeff is trying to bring through in paddling, and in the development of his individual design. Making scientific statements isn't necessary to bring that quality out, quality will exist in the use of the paddle for some and not for others.

Humans, like nature, are all too variable in their behaviour and response while paddling anyway. I'm sure he recognizes this and doesn't see the need for rigorous, quantitative evaluations when the quality is obvious to those who have tried and liked his paddles. If the approach seems mysterious to the hard noses that need the numbers, well, that's part of human experience as well.

All my canoe trips have some element of mystery in them - I don't know what I'll find when I finally get to the feature I'm paddling towards, sometimes the result is disappointing and at other times it's more than sublime, and that makes it all worthwhile. If Jeff Solway wants to add to the mystery of things by creating a paddle that isn't defined by data, but by quality, it's fine by me. It adds to the greater enjoyment that we have in the bigger picture, while spending time on the water.

Rick

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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 12:19 pm 
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Quote:
As for the Grok duel that Komatiq suggests
Looks like Grok Duels may follow the path of the dinosaurs here at CCR....... :lol:

Interesting to see the similarities in opinions here with regards canoe paddles as I've seen in the kayak industry over the last 12 years.

Personally I think seeing scientific data and research would be quite interesting and that it would gain a following among those "interested" in a more scientific approach to analysis. On the other hand there will always be folks partial to the opinions of others based on personal experience and "feel" to help guide their decision.

As to which is the most valid approach it's up to the individual user to decide and, in the end, it comes down to a personal choice regardless of which school of thought you adhere to.

I've tried literally 100's of kayak paddles because working in the industry alowed me the opportunity to do so. Not everyone has that luxury and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity.

I started with a "state of the art" graphite crank shaft that I had to 2nd mortgage the house for. Great paddle, used it for years. For the last 5 years I've been using a handmade Greenland blade with a shorter version as my backup on deck. I can't see me going back to the high tech blades because the Greenland blades "feel" a LOT better to me and do everything I want my paddle to do.

I swear by them........ others swear at them. :wink:


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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 3:36 pm 
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One thing I hadn't noticed mentioned in this thread was some consideration for the other thing most canoe paddles often need to do, provide steering control. A canoe paddle that's optimized for performance doesn't necessarily make a good paddle to use over the long haul in a canoe where the paddle needs to both provide forward motion and provide steering. I recently did a canoe course where all I had to do was show up and the equipment was provided for me. The paddle I spent most of the day using was a Nashwaak. The course was based on Canadian Style paddling and while the paddle was okay, I can't say I enjoyed using it. I like a paddle that's much stiffer than this one was, especially for that kind of use.

Over the years, my paddling style and efficiency has changed. I know that what would have been the perfect paddle for me 20 years ago is not the paddle I'd want today. I plan to still be paddling 20 years from now and odds are good that the one paddle in my collection that's my current fav won't be my future fav.

Gail, you may be surprised at what the manufacturing facillities look like at some of the paddle makers. I went to visit the folks at Mitchell a number of years ago, expecting to find a small factory with lots of techy stuff all over the place. Instead I wound up near the end of long backwoods country road in the Mountains of New Hampshire where a lot of the production was being done in building that might have been a barn in another life. That was a good many years ago and things may have changed, but I don't think there's enough money to be earned making paddles to support sophisticated R&D faciliities.


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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 5:21 pm 
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Rolf Kraiker wrote:
Gail, you may be surprised at what the manufacturing facillities look like at some of the paddle makers. I went to visit the folks at Mitchell a number of years ago, expecting to find a small factory with lots of techy stuff all over the place. Instead I wound up near the end of long backwoods country road in the Mountains of New Hampshire where a lot of the production was being done in building that might have been a barn in another life. That was a good many years ago and things may have changed, but I don't think there's enough money to be earned making paddles to support sophisticated R&D faciliities.


Yeah, I've been in the Grey Owl factory a few years ago. It's just a moderate sized pole building in an industrial park. It's essentially, awoodworkers dream shop, but surely not technologically spectacular. I watched a guy cut blades on bents with a big bandsaw with no jig, just freeforming the cut. No wonder every single Grey Owl Freestyle I've ever paddled (I have three the same length) paddles differently. So much for quality control.

PK


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PostPosted: September 16th, 2005, 6:24 pm 
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Quote:
So much for quality control.
PK, don't mean to nit-pick but was there a problem with the quality of the paddle or was it the difference in the "feel" of each that you have a problem with.

Considering they use 2 different woods in the shaft and a laminate blade the difference in wood may be the reason for the difference in feel more than a lack of quality control.

I've seen a few Grey Owls and own a couple. They may not be scientifically tested but the workmanship has been fine from what I've witnessed.


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PostPosted: September 17th, 2005, 8:32 am 
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Rlph wrote:
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One thing I hadn't noticed mentioned in this thread was some consideration for the other thing most canoe paddles often need to do, provide steering control. A canoe paddle that's optimized for performance doesn't necessarily make a good paddle to use over the long haul in a canoe where the paddle needs to both provide forward motion and provide steering.


Good point. I think a good study of power strokes would provide enough information to do that although I suspect it will be complicated due to the wide range of angles of attack. If I were doing it I would start with a video analysis of control strokes and develop a protocol from that. (great word "IF") :)

The important thing to remember is that aeronautical data applies to paddles in every way except at the surface interface. The good fellows who design airplanes etc. can provide huge amounts of information on just about every aspect of fluid dynamics as it applies to both thrust and control.

Just needs some one to pull it all together and then do the tests that would apply specifically to paddles. This sounds expensive but it isn't. Best of all, if you have a worthwhile project you can often get a university student to do the research. I know of several such projects.

Unfortunately, you need to have the will and desire to understand more about paddles and paddling. Most people and most paddle makers don't have that interest. If you have been making paddles for years a certain way and people buy them, why try to improve them? I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. It just doesn't seem to be a high priority with paddlers and paddle makers.

I recall that my articles about paddle testing in Canoesport Journal failed to light anyone's fire but that could have been due to my writing. :D :D

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PostPosted: September 17th, 2005, 10:20 am 
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Jwinters wrote:
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Just needs some one to pull it all together and then do the tests that would apply specifically to paddles. This sounds expensive but it isn't. Best of all, if you have a worthwhile project you can often get a university student to do the research. I know of several such projects.

Gee JW I would think you would be the likely canidate to pick up the gauntlet ( or girp in this case) and get something happening....... :wink:

I would guess even a modest sized paddle manufacturing company might see the potential marketing advantage of applying the scientific approach to their designs.

It need not be a labor of love on your part either as a possible commission structure could easily be worked out, perhaps even a "JWinters" line of blade shapes and flex "straight from the test tank".
- the JW Canadian (or Freestyle)
- the JW / WW
- the JW Cruiser / Tripper etc.

There would be potential for a sequel to "Shape of the Canoe" which may well increase interest in the original book. My copy is certainly dog earred enough to be replaced soon.

Once the ball got rolling other paddle manufacturers would be forced to follow suit in an effort to maintain sales and other engineers would head for the tank. Within a short time all of the paddlesports industry would have a scientific alternative to "feel".

The small guys who clung to the outdated "faith" approach would soon disappear from the scene as technology rose to the fore and the "Age of Paddlesport Enlightenment" began. Honesty in advertising would reign !!!

Of course you'll always be faced with a certain "neanderthal" segment of the paddling population that will defy the new evidence and happily paddling on in naive bliss content to hold on to their belief that "feel" is far more important than numbers and silly old scientific logic.


................... :wink:

p.s. sorry folks, to much fresh air on the morning walk before coffee..... :lol:


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PostPosted: September 17th, 2005, 1:58 pm 
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What are you smoking out there in BC? :D

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