I got Patrick's 2 piece carbon signature Surfcross paddle, which he beefed up just a touch to provide strength for these rocky streams while keeping the paddle light for my 61 year old shoulders. We talked by phone at great length initially and Patrick made copious notes while looking up statistics and information with his PC. When I called back a couple of weeks later he remembered me and my needs plus grabbed the notes to refer and add to. He encouraged me to borrow paddles and try different lengths to select just the right size. I was very pleased and enjoyed talking about paddle architecture, materials, and performance with him. He was never rushed and always had time. When I selected the length (I had been using a 220 and chose the adjustable 210- 220 for my Perception Torrent) he got the paddle built and shipped to me in time for my April trip. Thanks to all on the paddling.com message board who recommended me checking into Onno paddles.
The paddle is gorgeous but it's performance is what matters. I felt my strokes were smooth and powerful and efficient. The Surfcross grabbed the water solidly and I could feel each stroke pulling the boat forward, and acceleration was instantaneous for boof moves or to surge past an obstacle. There is just a smooth feel about the paddle that is awesome and I had comments from other boaters that I "made it look so easy."
I played with the length just a little to get a just right feel for eddying in and peeling out, finding that 217 fit me perfectly for bow drawing and smooth transition into the duffek forward part of these strokes. I just cannot use the description of "smooth" enough. The extra power and light weight kept me paddling strong for 4 days on three different trips and kept my shoulder fine (I'd had surgery 5 months earlier). The shape of the blade made backpaddling and low braces a little awkward but that's such a small compromise for the great paddling performance and comfort the paddle brought. And of course the ONNO decals read the same even when the blade is upside down so I quickly learned to look at the length gradation markers to get it right. The ferule that adjusts feather and length is incredible light and takes very few seconds for adjustment.
I am a finesse type paddler and have complete confidence in the paddle's strength. The blades are thin but not delicate and I can gently push off rocks, the bank, or the bottom when needed. On Arkansas's Mulberry, Buffalo, Ouachita, and Spring rivers the paddle was like a magic wand!! The feel is so good and power transfer from torso rotation so smooth that the paddle has made me acutely aware of stroke form and has made me a better paddler in that regard too.
I want another Onno paddle when I get my touring kayak and look forward to Patrick's help again!!