You may not have heard of Stuart Morris before, especially if you’re not a follower of what our sit in white water brethren get up to. Stuart, however, while being an ex-champion white water paddler is also owner/designer/manufacturer of VE Paddles. He’s spent an incredible amount of time researching the mechanics of paddles and paddling. So much so that he has a PHD in the subject and was the Olympic Boat designer for the GB Canoe Slalom Team during the last two Olympic Games.
Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not about to get into giro metrics and all that stuff – it’s above us. What his background does suggest, however, is that VE paddles should be top notch. First look We’ve been banging on about paddles for a while – you may have already seen our ultimate paddles guide. Stu’s VE Aircore carbon touring offering is another tool we’ve been keen to get hold of for a while, so we were stoked to finally receive one. Straight out of the packaging you can tell it’s a nifty piece of equipment. Feeling lightweight and featuring a well thought out shaft/feather adjustment system, the Aircore touring paddle screams quality. We opted to test the VE Aircore carbon touring paddle because of its smaller sized blade, carbon shaft, 10cm of length and infinite angle adjustments for both left and right handed paddlers) – it should be a good fit for SOTs. There are other constructions available and VE’s offerings are custom made to order – whatever configuration you’re after can be accommodated.
The carbon weave and overall finish of the VE is extremely high and it’s as much a paddle you’d be happy hanging on your wall as using it on the water. To the touch the VE is ergonomic and comfortable to grip.
On the water The VE straight carbon shaft has a fairly stiff flex and therefore delivers a firm and efficient stroke. The low angle delivery is forgiving – which is great news for sit on top kayakers. Put the hammer down and you power up your sled instantly, covering ground with ease and making short work of distance sessions.
If there’s a little bump knocking about then have no fear, the VE touring blade is apt enough (even without being surf specific) to slingshot you into drops and take on some liquid walls. Being able to adjust the shaft length by up to 10cm (and feather to whatever you want) also helps with transferring from cruising to wave riding – especially on the fly when afloat. One of the main things with bad paddles is the level of stress they place on joints and muscles. This unnecessary effort can be damaging – a point we’ve laboured. Although the VE touring paddle is stiff in its shaft flex there’s enough forgiveness to not wear you down. For those that like more flex in the shaft VE offer a glass option.
Pulling the blade through the brine is a joy – the face scooping water and transferring all that power into forward momentum. The deep dihedral stops paddle flutter and allows for slight short corrective strokes without losing too much forward glide. High end paddles can certainly help iron out kinks in paddling technique – in a user friendly manner – and the VE does just that. Low grade paddles simply don’t cut the mustard and although you’ll shell out a few more quid for a decent ‘scoop’ it’s definitely worth it.
Conclusion We’ve tried a number of high grade carbon paddles in the last few months and VE’s Aircore touring version is another diamond tool that will enhance your paddling. The VE will help you develop a good technique, last longer on the water and eliminate those nagging aches you can develop from using poorly manufactured equipment. The shaft/feather adjustment system is well thought out and the paddle’s light weight makes it a joy to hold. From a home grown brand, with a product made in Britain, VE paddles offer a super-efficient blade that can be used for riding mellow waves, paddling distance or simply cruising around. As such the VE Aircore tourer is another worthy consideration for your kit box.