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Reasons for using Lendal`s adjustable shaft
by Dan and Karen Trotter
Wherever we went - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska - we could be proud of our Lendal paddles. kayakers and kayak stores the world over regarded them as the best, the top of the range. “Of course”, we said, “they’re made in Scotland”.
Paddles are the most important piece of equipment on any kayaking trip, just as important as the kayak itself. The paddle is the essential tool of the trade, but it has to be more than just a tool. The paddle has to become an extension of the body, the shaft like an extra limb, the blades like tins. For this fusion of paddle with paddler to be successful the paddle-maker must strike a balance between weight and strength, between comfortable ergonomics and mechanical efficiency, and nobody does it better than Lendal.
We knew we wanted Lendal paddles for the Faroes expedition but we had a problem. Our new double kayak, Faroe’, was much wider than a normal kayak. It had to be to provide enough volume and stability for such a long and dangerous crossing, and to allow us room to lie down inside it, but it meant that we would need longer paddles to propel it efficiently. The trouble was we didn’t know exactly how long, and the length required might be different depending on the conditions. How were we going to find out the optimum length of paddle we needed without taking half a dozen pairs each?
(an impossibility anyway since we couldn’t have carried them).
Lendal had the ideal solution, Alistair had come up with a new design of paddle shaft which could be adjusted to different lengths with the simple turn of a screw. What was more the new system allowed the paddle blades to be set at any angle (they are normally fixed at just under 90 degrees). The paddles were the familiar ‘Powermasters’ which had carried us over so many thousands of miles of ocean in the past and by using carbon fiber in their construction, Alistair had managed to make them even lighter than standard, non-adjustable paddles. The paddles worked brilliantly.
We found ourselves using different lengths of shaft as it suited us - short for fast paddling through tide-races and rough spots, longer for more relaxed cruising - but the most crucial benefit of the new system was in the relief of tenosynovitus (TSV), the painful inflammation of tendon sheaths in the wrist caused by the repetitive strain of paddling.
We both suffered with TSV at various times during the expedition, probably because we were paddling harder than we had ever done in our lives. Usually the only cure is to rest completely since the paddling action that caused the condition in the first place can only make matters worse. With the new adjustable paddles however, we were able to alter the angle of the paddle blades until we had found a position that no longer strained the inflamed tendons, and so carry on with the journey, If we hadn’t been able to do this the whole trip may well have ground to a halt in Orkney. Thanks Lendal!