Being a fisherman first and kayaker second I'm always looking for something to make my paddling experience easier. So when I read the slogan of a new paddle company “Why dig when you can glide” they immediately got my attention.
A few months ago I managed to get a hold of Arthur Carlow the inventor and designer of the Gullwing kayak paddle. When I expressed my interest in this new design Art immediately sent one out to be put through its paces.
I received the paddle a few days later; opening the box I found one solid shaft and two curved blades. I snapped the blades onto the paddle shaft and everything fit together smoothly “the blades are removable for easy storage and replacement”. I did notice the lack of drip guards in the package and made a mental note to pick some up next chance I had.
My first trip using the Gullwing kayak paddle was a few weeks later down in Jacksonville FL. I was in my Native Ultimate 14.5 and was amazed at the amount of power I was able to generate from those curved blades. The high sides and low seating position of the Ultimate proved to not be the best choice of kayak for the Gullwing. The curve of the paddles shaft caused my hands or paddle shaft to bump into the sides of the kayak. I also tried using the Gullwing like all my other paddles with vertical strokes and immediately noticed the drip rings I forgot to purchase! 30 minutes into the trip I was soaked.
I stand in my kayaks almost 50% of the time so being able to us my paddle standing up is a must. The curved shaft made it hard to stand and paddle, it wanted to twist in my hand with every stroke. This also made it difficult to paddle and maneuver with one hand.
After getting back from Jacksonville I contacted Art, about my issues and mentioned he should think of adding drip guards to the paddle. He explained that I was using the paddle incorrectly; the Gullwing was meant to be used with low horizontal strokes. With a horizontal stroke water drips off the paddle blade before getting into the kayak.
With my new found knowledge I took the paddle out for round 2. This time is was on a much more typical kayak used for fishing, an Ocean Kayak Prowler Trident 11. Using the proper horizontal strokes made a world of difference. My clothes stayed dry the water rolled right off the paddle just like Art had said. My arms and shoulders didn’t fatigue nearly as quickly with the Gullwing. The curved shaft also allowed me to place the paddle down across my lap without it rolling all over the kayak.
All in all a huge difference paddling the Ultimate vs. the Ocean kayak with the Gullwing paddle. Your higher seating position and the lower sides are ideal for the Gullwing’s curved shaft.
Bottom line, is the Gullwing kayak paddle for everyone? No… I wouldn’t recommend this paddle for the kayak angler who stands frequently in their kayaks or if you own an extremely wide or high sided kayak like the Native Ultimate. I would recommend this paddle for everyone else, if used like it was intended the Gullwing paddle truly does glide instead of dig.
|Gullwing Paddle Features
Ergonomic design permits hours of tireless paddling
Curved bow handle for comfort plus drip prevention
Curved blades for enhanced strokes
Snap on/off blade makes replacement easy
Powder-coated aluminium alloy handle
Conture balances perfectly on the kayaks prow or side
Seated Paddling - 9.5
Comfort (Seated) - 9
Standing Paddling - 3
Comfort (Standing) - 3
Power - 9
Efficiency - 8.5
Overall Rating - 7
About the Author: Mark "YakSushi" Watanabe is the Co. Founder of YakAngler.com and the Founder of YakSushi Media. He considers himself a mediocre fisherman and an unexceptional writer. He's the devoted father of two little "Sushi's" and everyday tech ninja.