The Werner Corryvrecken paddles are a serious bit of kit. Serious in terms of features, performance but also cost. At £289 you need a very understanding bank manager and partner/spouse to consider purchasing a set. If you can overcome this hurdle – is the effort worth it?
For a predominantly high angle paddler looking for larger asymetric blades this answer could well be yes.
The set tested were the carbon blade/carbon neutral bent shaft version. A two piece paddle with adjustable feather system which allows for right and left hand set-up. There are other variations in the Corryvrecken range using glassfibre blades and/or straight shafts.
Having used a set of Schlegel white water paddles since 1995 for all my paddling and only recently upgraded to a ‘budget’ set of touring paddles (Originz Northwest Passage) picking up the Werners was a real shock to the system. The instant reaction is the amazing lightness of fully carbon paddles. The second thought is how strange a bent shaft feels compared to straight shaft paddles.
For all their weight, there has always been something comforting with the Schlegels as they feel ‘indestructible’. The Werners, however feel disconcertingly ‘fragile’ initially, however the low weight disguises the obvious strength that Carbon brings as a construction material and they are standing up to all the abuse I can throw at them. That said, I am probably more cautious about the tips of the blades when launching from shallow beaches whereas I would happily ‘pole’ away with the Sclegels.
The variable feather system works by connecting the splits at one of a range of settings. 0, 30, 45 & 60 degrees are possible in either right or left hand configuration. Once you have lined up the markers for your chosen angle you fully connect the shafts and a push button lock clicks into place. To alter the feather requires you to semi disconnect the paddle before you can rotate the shaft but is easily achievable on the water.
To begin with I have selected the 60 degree feather as the closest option to my previous one piece paddles. this has allowed me to concentrate on settling in to a neutral bent shaft. Finding the correct/best hand position on these paddles has been down to trial and error, however despite no previous wrist injuries, I can feel the difference and have found my wrists/forearms less tired at the end of the days paddle. However, using a bent shaft does seem to bring in other muscle groups and I found my lateral muscles (back muscles) where utilised more than normal, something I have heard other paddlers comment on.
The other noticeable benefit is the low weight which leaves my arms and shoulders less tired at the end of a paddle. Werner refers to this as a ‘light swing weight’.
Using the large, asymetric blades has certainly boosted my general speed on the water and I am tending to cover ground (water) more swiftly without any noticeable increase in effort. The Corryvrecken has a smaller bladed accomplice in the form of the ‘Shuna’ which offers more ‘all round’ performance and would be ideally suited to long days on the water. However, to date, I am quite happy with the larger blade size and it comes into its own sprinting across the main channels in the Solent in the rare gaps between traffic!
Having used the Corryvrecken’s I find it hard to imagine going back to either straight shafts or non-carbon construction. The lightness of the paddle, combined with the comfort and handling of these paddles makes them a dream to use, albeit an expensive dream to use.
Werner provide a useful starting point for determining the best paddle for your needs with an online ‘paddler selector’. However, this is no substitute for actually trying a few sets out. Standing at 5’10″ with broad shoulders the 220cm length I have been using is probably a little on the long side, however with the majority of my paddling being journeying rather than playing in surf and tide races they are fine.
(NB: As a relative newcomer to bent shaft paddles I welcome all comments/thoughts and feedback!)