Review of Werner Ikelos Sea Kayak Paddle
Gear Tested: Werner Ikelos 205cm Carbon Fiber Foam Core Bent Shaft weight: 27 ounces
Where Tested: Gull Lake, Lake Michigan
Conditions: Winds 20 knots, to dead calm. Waves 3 feet.
I used the Werner paddle selector widget on the werner paddles website. The website suggested an Ikelos 205 cm. The Ikelos is billed as a mid size blade from Werner. I selected the regular diameter shaft. I have small hands, but, as they are on the border between the small shaft and the regular shaft, I picked the regular.
First off I like the feel of the shaft in my hands. It is a smooth ergonomic fit. I really like the oval loom and the bend shape compared to Lendal’s torque that I’ve been using for surfing. My only complaint is that the shaft is still a little too long at 205 cm. By little I mean little. I would love to have maybe a 202 or a 203 cm shaft. It would put the bend in just the right place. As it stands the bend is not uncomfortable where it is, just perhaps a smidget off of where I would love to have it. So a note to Werner paddle design. Maybe a custom blade at the hefty price of $455.00 USD is not to much to ask.
The Adjustable Ferrule System that Werner uses is actually really awesome. Having used a Lendal Paddlok I was skeptical of a paddle having as rock solid of a feel as a 4-piece paddlok. The Werner ferrule slid together and locked into place and feels very solid. I like being able to switch between 45 degrees and 0 feather for goofing off doing rolls without using an allen wrench tied to my life jacket.
The paddle when entering the water immediately draws power and feels smooth as it is drawn along the kayak. The back of the blade is smooth so that draws, slips, and pry strokes in linked strokes don’t seem to have any ill effects when the blade is applied omni-directionally. I really like how the blade feels when used for slips and bow rudders. Mostly though I’ve noticed how effective the blade seems to feel for my forward stroke. I think the short shaft, and the blade shape effectively force good posture and upright blade entry. I know no blade can really force good technique, but I found myself accelerating to speed very quickly and maintaining speed quite easily.
I used the Ikelos paddle in two small surf conditions I encountered, one near Holland in 3 foot neatly spilling surf, (I actually wished I’d been in my surf boat!!!) the other in smaller 1-2 foot waves but reflected off the South Haven north pier. In the surf at the Holland pier I sprinted to catch waves, braced, and ruddered effectively. The foam core in the blade makes it very buoyant when performing these maneuvers. Not as buoyant as a Superior Carbon Fiber Greenland Paddle, but very buoyant. This comes in really handy when dealing with aerated water when bracing, or trying to sweep your kayak around to break out. I really enjoyed low bracing into waves with this paddle. The second time near the South Haven Pier I was paddling in clapotis waves trying to stay close to the wall. I would paddle hard and then sideslip closer to the wall or away from the wall to try and catch the waves near the wall. The blade was very effective at keeping my kayak on station, and I blended strokes from sideslips to forward stroke, to stern rudder very easily with no cavitation. I was having a gas using this paddle. I would love to have some rock gardens to explore on Lake Superior with this paddle.
My longest journey thus far was 16 miles from north of Whitehall Montegue into White Lake and back. So far no ill effects have been felt from using a crank shaft or a high angle blade. Whether this will remain to be seen through summer is hard to tell. But that is more of a human anatomy question than it is the paddle.