January 11, 2017

Benefits of Adjustable Dragon Boat Paddles
By: Jeff Campbell of Double Fifth


Adjustable dragon boat paddles are here to stay.

It was not long ago that a paddler had to use a tool to loosen a screw, adjust the paddle and then tighten it to make adjustments. It was more difficult to keep track of the wrench and if the screw did loosen or break the grip would slide freely resulting in the paddler going from 51 inches to 45 inches in half a stroke. In order to return to effective paddling you would need to find the wrench and tighten the adjustment mechanism.

Modern adjustment systems do not require a wrench or tool. Most use a lever system, a push button or a twisting connection that is quick and secure. This allows the paddler to make changes on the fly while on the boat and offer a high degree of reliability.

To select the correct size Dragon paddle there are many factors to take into consideration. Many of these considerations have to do with the freeboard (the distance from the top of the boat to the water). Most paddlers don't realize that the amount of freeboard on a dragon boat can vary as much as 6 to 8 inches. Boats on salt or brackish water are more buoyant than the same boat on fresh water. An all women’s or youth team has more freeboard than an all men's crew. If only half your team shows up for practice the boat rides high. Even where you sit in the boat is a factor. If you look at a dragon boat as it goes through the water you will see waves along the sides. They start high at bench one, then dip and rise and dip and rise. This is where the adjustable paddle earns its keep. A simple adjustment and you have the correct length.

Adjustable dragon paddles do require basic maintenance due to the moving parts. Over time moving parts can wear out, but today most connection systems are components that can be replaced. It is important to properly maintain the paddle by taking it apart after every paddling session and cleaning everything thoroughly with fresh water, letting it dry and then reassembling the paddle. This is a procedure that takes just a few minutes but will add years to the life of your paddle.

Almost every dragon boat paddler can benefit from an adjustable paddle. Newer paddlers can dial in the correct length as they learn the sport and Elite level paddlers on high level crews can fine tune length to the quarter inch to increase their performance. The power and efficiency of paddling with the correct length paddle to meet the boat and water conditions will result in better results and more fun on the water.

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