Although the Ikelos is being billed as a high angle paddle preferred by sprinters and those interested in a high energy workout, I use the Ikelos in classes all the time and have found that women love how it feels. I have a 205cm that I pass around to smaller women. My girlfriend, Lisa, is very enthusiastic about this paddle. She has a background in massage therapy, and notes that the blade puts very little stress on the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles of the shoulder. Translation: no shoulder fatigue, even on extended trips. If paddlers are in well-designed boats, the difference in the paddler’s performance, comfort and enthusiasm is fantastic. Once again we are back to matching body styles to appropriate boat designs and then adding in a paddle that compliments the first two elements in the equation.
The other side of the performance picture for the Ikelos is how finely the blade slices through the water on transition strokes. Since there is no ridge on the back of the paddle to confuse the water flowing over the back, there is very little cavitation and noise along the back of the blade as the paddler shifts from a forward stroke to a sculling draw stoke. It feels smoother and cleaner as it slices from a hanging draw, forward to a power forward stroke, or into a low brace turn.
I’ve also used the Ikelos in teaching students the Eskimo roll. Some students find it difficult to orient the paddle once they are upside down. They have trouble “finding? the surface of the water. With the floatation of the Ikelos, the paddle wants to go to the surface where the paddler can get the most leverage and greater effect for a successful roll.
Another advantage of the Ikelos is its adjustable ferrule system. I tend to pass the paddle around in my classes to let students get a feel for different gear. If someone is a left hand control paddler who likes to paddle at 45 degrees, the Ikelos presents no problem. If someone else likes right hand control at 60 or 15 or 75 degrees, it’s just a matter of a quick adjustment and they are off and paddling. Another advantage is long-term wear on the old style single button, single hole design. After a while, every paddle, no matter who makes it, will develop some degree of play in the old style joint. The advantage of Werner’s new ferule system is that there are multiple interlocking splines that increase the surface area of the joint and reduce the chance of slippage which, over time, increases the wear of the joint.
Over the last twenty years, sea kayaking has experienced a huge growth in popularity. That growth has fueled demand and made the design changes that we are now enjoying affordable. Learning to use well designed equipment that fits the individual is a part of the process in becoming a competent and safe paddler. But remember, equipment alone does not make anyone a high-quality paddler. As we develop our skills we must remember that it is this skill that will keep us safe. The real responsibility for our safety lies in our judgment and the knowledge of our abilities. We need to develop our paddling skills and then practice them until they are truly second nature.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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