The first ergonomic kayak paddle.
This past summer I received a uniquely designed paddle from HOOK 1 for the purpose of conducting a product demo/evaluation.
The paddle is the Gullwing, an ergonomic style paddle which was invented & designed by Art Carlow, the owner of Gullwing Paddles.
When I opened the package, I was intrigued to find five pieces- a long aluminum shaft (powder coated), two asymmetrically shaped nylon/fiberglass blades and two foam hand grips. There are no drip-rings supplied as the design eliminates the problem.
First I installed the foam grips; I sprayed the shaft with Windex and slid the grips into position.
Next I installed the blades; the blades snap into the shaft, the same as a two-piece paddle with a push-button ferrule connection in the middle.
Observation; I’m usually not a big fan of aluminum shaft paddles (sturdy, but heavy). I was quite surprised after I assembled the paddle, as I found that it was still quite a light set up. The fit of the blades seemed a bit loose, as I was comparing the fit to what a two piece paddle fit feels like, but I was soon to discover this didn’t factor into the overall “feel” of the paddle.
The evaluation involved three SOT boats; Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 (28”W), Ultra 4.7 (29.1”W) & Native Manta Ray 12 (30”W). The 230cm length worked well with all boats tried. I’ve heard that the paddle isn’t a good match with hybrid kayaks (ie- Wilderness Systems Commanders/Native Ultimates), but I was unable to find that out for myself.
Weather conditions ranged from “not a breath of wind” to the windy, blustery conditions of the current South Florida winter.
Surface conditions ranged from glass flat to rough windblown chop. No current to (incoming/outgoing) tidal currents.
What I liked
Handling this paddle out of the water caused me to form an unfriendly opinion; it just felt funny….maybe the visual aspect was influencing my thoughts?
Once on the water, after a bit of adjustment, I found this paddle to be very comfortable and quite easy to get into a smooth paddle cadence. I didn’t find the need to take a deep stroke due to the handle and blade design. Because of the bend in the shaft, paddle drips are a thing of the past.
When fishing, the paddle lays across your lap, unaffected by wind or conditions (as opposed to a rolling straight shaft paddle). It did take a little time to find the proper way to secure the Gullwing with the side paddle keeper bungee straps, but once you find the sweet spot it’s a simple procedure.
What I didn’t like
It looks weird (so did the first PC and look where we are now). The fit of the blades to shaft could be a little tighter (but it didn’t affect performance at all). Not a fan of the silver powder coating, I would paint mine black!
– 4.5 Stars
For the new kayaker or for someone looking to upgrade from an entry level paddle, that needs a stoutly built paddle that gives the comfort benefits of the higher-end ergonomic products on the market and sells for a fair price, I would highly recommend you consider the Gullwing Paddle for your future adventures on the water.