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Basics of buying a kayak paddle
There are many things that go into what paddle to buy.  Personal preference plays a role.  Also, availability, durability and quality.  Currently, we enjoy relatively good access to several good manufacturers.  This was not always the case…there was a time when athletes and families would wait weeks or months and not know if or when their paddle would arrive.  For the vast majority of paddlers..we recommend either Braca Sport or Jantex for a paddle.  There are other paddle makers and they are fine too.  
In ordering a kayak paddle, there are 4 main variables that need to be decided when buying a kayak paddle: 
    1) length - shaft length of the paddle - this is individualized but the starting measurement is to stand with one arm raised overhead and measure to top of your palm(where your fingers start).  For most over 14 boys this is around 210-220cm and most girls and under 14 boys it is 205-215.  Keep in mind that the paddles come in two pieces are can be adjusted.  Some paddles come with 10cm of adjustability and others just 5cm.  This allows for growth of the athlete and/or finer adjustment of sizing.  Sometimes paddles are lengthened or shortened based on conditions or race setting.   
    2) blade design - the shape of the blade is, like many things in the sport, debated vigorously among experts.  At GHCKRT, we recommend the most common shape/design which is the Braca IV and the Jantex Gamma Rio.  We also recommend the Braca XI.  We encourage athletes to try out lots of paddle shapes and designs especially at competitions where dealers will sometimes bring demo paddles for athletes to try.   
    3) blade size - the size of the blade(measured in square cm) is an important decision.  For younger athletes and masters athletes, it is important to size for weight of athlete, strength and physical maturity.  The notion that a bigger blade automatically equates to faster speed is not necessarily true as the wing design of the paddle depends on moving the paddle at a certain speed through the water.  Also, large paddle blades are associated with higher rates of injury among younger and older athletes.  
    4) shaft stiffness - like blade size, the layperson might think that all athletes would realize a benefit in speed from having a more stiff shaft but a softer shaft can help reduce risk of sudden strain and pressure on young and old shoulders.  We use the recommended shaft stiffness from the manufacturer and sometimes even go a little softer.  
We recommend only one manufacturer for canoe paddles, Braca.  As with kayak paddles, there are different styles and shapes of blades.  For athletes 13 and under, buying a childrens paddle is usually good.  The shape of paddle our coaches like is the super fat.   Sizing is relatively straightforward - simply measure the distance from the ground to the bridge of the nose.   Always buy a case.  Blade size is important as in a kayak paddle - consult our coaches for advice. 

We put in a team order 1-2 times per year so we get a team discount and a break on shipping.  But if you want to order outside of those orders - here is the contact info for Braca and Jantex.  PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CHECK WITH A COACH BEFORE ORDERING AND SIZING A PADDLE!   

Braca - Chris Chappell

Jantex - Mike Robinson

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