Sunday, May 5, 2013

Paddle Faceoff Part One

My first quantitative test of wing vs. Greenland paddle was inconclusive. These two types of paddles are polar opposites. Greenland paddles are a long and skinny traditional design, while wing paddles are hydro-dynamically engineered for racing power. Greenland paddles are carved from wood; wind paddles are molded from carbon fiber. I've been a Greenland devotee for years but have recently begun experimenting with the wing. To test them I paddled from Columbia Island Marina to the top of Roosevelt Island with the wing and back with the GP. Admittedly, it wasn't a perfect test - there's wind and current to be taken into consideration, and freshness/tiredness.

I tried to paddle with a similar level of exertion both ways - a fast touring pace which was a little speedier than cruising but which I could sustain for the full distance. Subjectively, I felt like I was working harder with the wing and indeed, my average heart rate was higher with the wing than with the GP (106 vs. 102). I also felt like I was going faster with the wing.

The GPS results show that I was only 0.2 MPH faster with the wing (4.6 vs. 4.4 MPH).But I'm wondering if some pauses or dirty data might be affecting the results. Look at the left half vs. right half of the graph below - doesn't it look like the left half (wing) is appreciably faster than the right (GP)? Clearly GPS isn't perfect (GPS does not actually measure speed): according to the graph, when I was beached changing paddles I was still doing 1 MPH. In any case, I felt like I was closer to my maximum speed limit with the Greenland paddle than with the wing. I expect these results will 
change as I get more experience with the wing. Stay tuned for further test results.

BTW, as I was getting off the water, what to my womdering eyes should appear, but Ralph & Paula and eight tiny reindeer! Well, actually, it was a CPA beginner's trip. I hadn't noticed this on the calendar. It was a pleasant surprise - but a surprise nonetheless - to bump into all these far-flung people in my nexk of the kayaking woods.