Modern sprint kayakers and surfskiers all use the more efficient “wing” style kayak paddle that is characterized by distinct concave scoops in the power sides of the blades and a non-symmetric oval in the blade shape where the “top” (outside edge in the water, inside edge during recovery) edges of the blades are longer and more curved than the bottom (inside edge in the water, outside edge during recovery) edges. This shape lends itself to greater efficiency and speed - IF you use decent paddling technique.
Wesley Echols' discussion and review of wing paddles covers most of the important features that you should be considering in your choice of a wing paddle. As with most aspects of surfski paddling, there is nothing more valuable than experience to guide your ability to make good purchase choices.
The Paddle Channel - using the wing paddle - this represents their opinions which may continue to evolve. (they are probably still not expert paddlers yet) But good fodder for thought.
Smaller or less powerful paddlers usually prefer smaller blade sizes. Stronger paddlers may also go with relatively smaller blades if their paddle sessions and races tend toward longer distances and/or as they get older. Paddle2Fitness Podcast on Blade Size
“If you’re a beginner or have problems with tendinitis, get a shaft made out of fibreglass. They are more flexible than the other options, which is what you want. The flex will protect your joints and tendons from injuries.
A seasoned paddler can consider a shaft made of glass/carbon. Different ratios are being used. The higher the carbon vs glass ratio, the lighter the shaft tends to be, but it also becomes stiffer. Stiffness allows you to transfer power more directly to your blades through the shaft, but it puts a lot of strain on your muscles and tendons too. Personally I prefer a 30% carbon, 70% glass mix. I suffer from tendinitis and I don’t compete in sprint races, so no point in going for a stiffer paddle.
If you’re serious about sprinting and your body is up for some punishment, go for a full carbon shaft. But I would suggest that you get another paddle too with a more flexible shaft for long distance training sessions.”
Surfski.info Good discussion of brand stiffness 2020
Most Flexible All-Carbon Shafts Currently (2022) Available:
(Stress can be also be increased or mitigated by how the blade catches (hard, aggressive, or softer?), so consider not only the shaft flex but also the shape and size of the blade)
Logo on Bennett Paddle Bag