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Submitted: 04-18-2011 by Russ

For me personally, when it comes to a kayak paddle:
It's ONNO...
Why? Because Patrick from Onno is a heck of a nice guy, that does things the "old school way". As a "craftsman" he builds some nice paddles. In this day and age of "get it made cheap somewhere, hype it up, throw a corporate name on it, and make the maximum profit," it's nice to know that there are still individual artisans out there, that works with pride, and care about the people they sell their art work to...
Patrick at Onno is that kind of person...

Make no mistake about it, every paddle that Patrick has put together and sent out to me, I feel is an actual expression of him, as an artisan. If you ever worked with your hands... I mean if you have ever done some serious trade work that required sanding something and breathing fumes and dust... Or of you ever paid your bills doing, old school, blue collar work... You simply cannot help but appreciate the special kind of stuff that Patrick offers his customers/ friends.

YES, of course, when ordering a paddle you do have to patient with him. Your paddle is going to take him some time to get around to building... After all, he is only one man for heaven's sake. It's not like there is an assembly line of Patricks in a factory somewhere, punching a clock to start the day and then sitting down to lunch when the union factory noon whistle blows. Having to wait a month or two for you paddle at times, simply has to be expected, when you are waiting for one man, to hand build you "your" paddle... But in the end, in my humble opinion, the paddles are more than worth the wait.

Because of the individualistic attention to their creation, the karma that surrounds Onno paddles seems to endear them to you. For me personally, my Onno paddles almost seem to each have their own personality and soul. Over time, for me, they have become like that ol' favorite pair of jeans, or motorcycle jacket, or that favorite old car you once owned as a kid, and actually gave a name to...

I personally own and use three different Onno paddles. If I want to do a quick ten to fifteen miles in a morning and make my shoulders feel like I went to the gym, I go with the F.A.S.T Tour... My long length, 225-235 F.A.S.T Tour... It truly is a manly man's, broad bladed beast that always challenges me... A Thor's Hammer in the paddle world if ever there was one... "Dig deeper! Rotate harder"... The paddle declares to me. As it does so, it ridicules me in a whisper, "I will break you..." Like that big nasty boxer in the Rocky movie. But, it never does. Yes, I admit, it has brought me to the brink of being so tired after 25 miles in under 6 hours, where if I had eaten lunch, that lunch would have been chum... But, no matter how tired I get, or how much current I push into at the end of the day, my F.A.S.T Tour always gets me home... Always, and never one single day of injury from it! Amazing...

If when I start out in the morning, I am feeling an old childhood football injury flaring up and need to take it easy, I turn to my "special width, made just for me" customized, Full Tour Signature... My special curvy Full Tour...She nurtures and takes care of these old shoulders when they need to be pampered.

But my dream paddle, the one paddle that has spoiled me and that I hold as dear in my heart as that doe browned eyed, long dark haired girl, I dated in high school... That paddle would be my divine Onno Sprint Wing... Man, what a dream it is to tour paddle with my Sprint Wing. At a touring paddle pace, while pushing forward my 50ish, troll like, two hundred pounds plus body and my 60 pound plus Kaskazi Dorado ski/kayak hybrid, my Sprint Wing is simply...
Faaaaaaaaa-reakkkkk-iiiinnnnnn AWESOME!!!
I LOVE my Sprint Wing!!!!

Who am I kidding...I simply love my Onno paddles. I love their adjustability. I love their value. I love the fact that the guy that builds them for me treats me more like a friend, than a potential profit and actually gives the time to give me advice even if I don't always take it. In other words, for me, when it comes to the paddles, it's not "just about the paddle," but everything that the paddle also represents ... Like that old "journey - destination" adage you hear every now and then...

Yes, I have had a few other paddles besides my Onno's... I have had a top of the line, all carbon, four hundred dollar, foam core Werner paddle that under power, fluttered through the water more than the batting eyelashes of the cast of La Cage Aux Folles... Some people may prefer that to the solid tracking and stickiness off my Onno blades. But I don't... Please understand, I'm not trying to disrespect the Werner paddle here, but for a four hundred dollar paddle to flutter so much under any sort of power-stroke... It was a terrible disappointment. I used the paddle two times, washed it, polished it, and then resold it on Ebay at a large discount.

I also had a costly Epic mid-wing blade, in their cheaper lay-up, that still cost a small fortune... It just didnít feel any quality in the paddle as compared to it's price... Sure, it may be a nice ski paddle, but on a wider and heavier sea kayak? Nope, not for me...

Now, I have to say that Eddyline's Sea-Swift paddle is a paddle I enjoyed using at one time. It was a very durable and practical paddle indeed, and if you ever communicated with the owner of Eddyline, you know what an amazing gentleman he is... I give a thumbs up to their paddles.

Bending Branches, I found they make a nice dependable paddle to push a plastic sit on top around...But when you get a little more serious about paddling, the Bending Branches paddle gets sold with the plastic boat.

Ohhh, I can't forget the Fenn Wing Letterman Blade - Don't even get me started on that thing... That paddle was singularly the biggest disappointment I have had when purchasing paddling gear. I was so disappointed in that paddle that I actually have used one blade to nail in nails in my old garage wall to hang things on...

Anyway, to finish this version of a paddle buyers "War and Peace", I think I should take the time to express my limited paddling experience, so that any crazy soul that actually takes the time to read this thing can put my opinion in proper context. No, I openly admit that I can't claim to be proficient in the proper execution of all of the 82 different paddle strokes and braces because I have been paddling for the token boastful "25 years"... I have not raced kayaks, nor do I spend my time "bench racing" online in kayak & surfski forums... Which I have discovered, seems to at times, be the main requirement for one to consider themselves a paddling expert. I'm just an everyday joe kinda guy. A retired, 50ish year old, New York blue collar fella that absolutely loves to go out on a nice morning, a few times a week, 6 months a year, and spend 3 to 6 hours out of the day paddling for fitness. In the beginning of the season, I only cover 8 - 12 miles an outing; summer through fall, those trips extend to about 16 to close to 30 miles for the day.

I started paddling five years ago for the purpose of kayak fishing. Within a year, fishing was out of the equation and paddling became my new hobby & passion. I really enjoy immensely, the amazing feeling of being out on the bay waters of one of NYC outer boroughs, paddling and enjoying the scenery around me. Well not always... There is that very overweight, bald, old naked guy that likes to sunbath on an abandoned-car, riddled beach, along the side of the highway. He likes to stand up to do a hands on the hips, Superman pose, every time a boat goes by... While this may be appealing to some, to be honest, that is something I can honestly live without. To each their own...

Anyway, I have used close to a dozen different paddles over the years. I currently own three kayaks whose use I alternate according to weather conditions and time of year... I also own and on occasion, go out and fall off of a Fenn Mako XT surfski. In other words, I'm a guy that really likes to paddle his kayak, for no other reason, but for the fact that he really loves to go out and paddle a kayak...

For me personally, there is currently only one paddle company I currently use, and there is only one paddle guy I go to when I need a friend to build me a special use paddle... That guy/ friend is Patrick, and that paddle is, and always will be... An ONNO!

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