Working with lightweight design composites such as CFRP is our daily business. Due to its characteristics and versatile fields of application by now this material is utilized beyond industry and motorsports. For the external observer at first sight it seems unusual to make use of it in Canoeing as well. However, when taking a second look it is easily apparent that the advantageous characteristics of this material perfectly qualify CFRP for that very field: the canoeist wishes from his paddle that it is as light in weight as possible and the same time provides enough stiffness in order to withstand the load when pulling it through the water.

This is exactly what our Dipl. Industrial Engineer Patrick Vorderwülbecke has set himself as a task. The required compromise between weight and stiffness should guarantee an energy efficient movement. For the development of the paddle Mr. Vorderwülbecke could rely on our experience in different lamination methods. For many years we successfully apply a variety of lamination methods coupled with our Know How regarding flow simulation. From a flow mechanical point of view a calm and flatter-free passage of the blade is desirable. This can be achieved by the choice of a dihedral blade shape. This is a V-shaped camber on the front part of the blade which counteracts turbulences and fluttering in the water. The blade of the paddle consciously has an asymmetrical shape in order to reduce torque in the shaft. That is why less power is necessary for holding the shaft as the tendency for a turning movement is reduced. For an optimal adaption to the style of the canoeist the blade angles can be individually adjusted. Generally there are two available options here. A variable shaft delivers the comfort of tailoring the paddle to environmental conditions as well as simplifying transport. However, this also implies slightly more weight. A one-piece shaft is even lower in weight. Individual adjustment of the blades would also be possible in the manufacturing phase here but once the angle is set it will be fixed. Due to the big blade surface high propulsion can be reached with few strokes already.

The apparent weight advantage mainly results from the CFRP as material of choice and especially lightweight filling material. That way propulsion of the paddle of about 1,75kg could be achieved at paddle weight of 720g and a total length of 2,2m. Besides, CFRP provides a smaller flywheel mass which leads to higher mobility. Due to its stiffness the paddle strokes can be transferred more directly. Additionally, aramid fibres are part of the composite which is why there is a high potential for absorption of energy which makes the paddle more shock- and tear resistant. For manufacturing we chose the non-autoclave vacuum infusion technique in order to receive a dense and lightweight outer shell of the blade of a high quality. Furtermore, we used a UP Gelcoat taking care of a resistant blade surface. Due to their weight CFRP paddles are excellently applicable for longer distances. The possibility of stepless interlocking of the blades enables energy efficient movements. In case of strong opposing winds the blade can be held in a low-drag position.

Altogether the CFRP paddle provides high stiffness and a low weight underlining the application variety of this composite. Our comprehensive Know How in the field of CFRP lamination techniques coupled with routinely application of flow optimization was extremely conducive for the project’s success. As in our company no project is like the other our experience makes us a perfect partner for such innovative lightweight design projects.

Technical Data
Blade size: 460 x 190mm (length x width)
Surface: 630cm
Paddle length: 2200mm
Blade weight: 200g
Total weight: 720g
Propulsion: ca. 1,75kg

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