Full disclosure: I was given…
Full disclosure: I was given a pro deal for this paddle and am an open water instructor. For the record, I'm certified ACA L5 and BCU 5 Star. I teach exclusively in active water. I purchased this Werner Stikine in the fall of 2016. Got a 205cm, straight shaft model specifically for surfing both medium (P&H Delphin) and short (Watertech 666) kayaks. I have a number of other paddles including a Werner Cyprus and Lendal Cadence but neither fit the bill. The Cyprus is a fantastic touring paddle: super lightweight, smaller blades (tends to increase cadence and decrease stress on joints), extremely clean catch and exit. While it's build is perfect for touring, it won't hold up to the impact and stresses of surfing. The Cadence is sold as a surf/rocks/whitewater paddle but I found it's stretched leading edge (too asymmetrical) makes for an uneven, twisty catch, is clumsier on take offs and the blades are available in fiberglass only, so it offers less flotation in aerated water. Also, the back face is not of low profile design, so the action through the water is less smooth. I use it strictly for rock gardening which it's decently suited for. The upside of the fiberglass blades is that they are tough to break and tend to be slowly ground down by impact with terra firma so meant to take hard hits over and over. Kind of a blunt force instrument.
The Stikine is sold as both an "ocean play" and whitewater paddle. I don't speak whitewater but chose it for surf, rocks and tidal races because of:
- - Shaft Design:
The fiberglass shaft is more than strong enough, super durable while offering a little flex. While surfing, paddle shafts are under extreme pressure as the paddler and boat often lean way out over the blades. Also, in quick spurt, high output situations (hallmark of ocean play) this flex lessons strains on joints. The oval "register" at both ends of the shaft really help in preventing the blades from rotating and are reassuring when trying to roll in those hairy washing machine situations. Werner's use of super durable, push button style joints in the 2 piece version. In high impact situations like surf and rocks, fancier mechanisms are more prone to sand contamination and failure. - Blade design:
The blades I chose are full carbon kevlar with Dynel reinforced edges and foam core interior. That means they are light, impact resistant and offer much better flotation. Short surf boats have little primary stability and the water in surf and around rocks is often heavily aerated. The extra floatation is immediately noticeable. It also has a clean, effortless exit. Another attribute of these blades are their low profile back faces. On most paddles intended for this type use, the extra reinforcement makes for a heavily contoured back face = sloppy movement through the water. The compact design has just enough of an asymmetrical shape. This minimizes chances of getting caught up in rock play while maximizing forward stroke technique to get you back out through the surf and in covering ground to get to you playspot. These blades have an aggressive but clean catch, move smoothly through the water and pop out of the water on the exit. This combined with the medium sized blades allows for a secure, high cadence "windmills" type stroke perfect for taking off on a wave or zipping through a jobbly slot.
Bottom line is there are lighter, cheaper, more impact resistant options but in all my years of instructing and test driving many paddles, I've never found one better suited for surf, rocks and tide races.