Submitted: 07-15-2012 by DB
I ordered the gloss white Kuroshio paddle in the 220cm length to serve as a two-piece spare to back up my home-built western red cedar and maple GP on long trips. I ordered the paddle on a Friday from GEARLAB in Taiwan. It shipped Friday, cleared customs in Chicago on the same Friday afternoon and was delivered express mail to my door on Monday.
My experience with Greenland-style paddles is limited to about 5 years of paddling with my and my wife's home-builts, and brief paddle exchanges with other Greenland paddlers including an opportunity to try the Northern Light Paddlesports product. I was once even able to try out Maligiaq Padilla's personal paddle at a workshop.
The construction and finish of the Kuroshio is superb with one glaring exception for a paddle in this price range. There was a tiny bit of play in the joint that seemed more than other similar two piece euro paddles I have tried or than the Northern Light paddle--which has zero play but requires a tool to assemble.
The inner ferrule was coated in a rather thick layer of what appeared to be paraffin wax in what seemed to be an attempt to tighten up the loose joint. The carbon spring clip and button that pins the whole thing together is an amazing little unit and prevented all play in the rotational or telescoping (in and out) directions. The manufacture promotes this bit as better than steel because it won't rust. I also like the fact that when I lash the paddle halves to the deck, this part ends up near my compass which keeps one more metal object out of that area.
The blade shape and dimensions are pretty standard for a GP and the paddle enters the water with only a few drops of splash, a bit better than my home-built. The loom is perfectly round and quite undersized compared to most GP's I have tried. It is 1.25 inches in diameter. The comfortably shaped shoulders of the Koroshio make it easy to feel the blade angle despite the circular cross section of the loom. The only other GP I have tried with a loom nearly as thin as this paddle was Maligiaq's.
My personal preference for comfort in a long distance paddle would be a larger loom circumference, but a recent 18 mile paddle with the Kuroshio did not seem to cause any serious comfort issues.
In comparison to most wood GP's I have tried, the Kuroshio is very stiff. It feels somewhat dead in my hands as I paddle compared to my livelier wood paddle. I know some people prefer very stiff paddles though, and that may just be par for the course for carbon sticks. After stripping the excessive paraffin and carefully building up the mandril-portion of the joint with some marine epoxy, I adjusted the fit to perfection with some wet-dry 1000 grit sand paper and re-polished the joint surfaces with a thin layer of wax. That achieved a very solid, yet still easy-to assemble-connection. With that modification of the joint, I now have achieved my goal of having a durable, quick-to-assemble spare GP with solid enough performance to finish a long tour should something happen to my favorite stick.
The paddle is very light, and it actually matches the manufacture's specs for it's weight. The glossy white surface is amazingly durable, although I'm not sure what it is made out of exactly. Gel-coat maybe?
I'm rating this paddle a 7. It would easily earn a 10 if the the joint were constructed with more precision, and if the loom were a larger diameter with an oval or rounded rectangular shape.