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I give it an 8 due to having to work pretty hard with it in rougher currents (should break out a high angle at these times). And that I do have a more natural high angle stroke. I have to keep telling myself to relax with this paddle. So if you are into a nice cruising speed instead of an aggressive run, then this is your paddle for big boats.
The first time I used it, the coupler was very difficult to undo then I remembered a trick that I use to open new glass jars. Vibration - simply whack the coupler a few times in various spots with a blunt object and it will come apart easily.
Firstly, I have had a problem with the TLC loosening for the last two months or so, usually after a few hours of paddling at a 60deg feather. Recently my paddle has ceased to pull apart anymore. I know that I have had a problem with my lower-end rental paddles not coming apart (apparently the ferrule swells for some reason), so this must be a problem through the line.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the shaft of the paddle has a series of small, raised ridges on it, which prevent it from being totally smooth. I am not sure what purpose the ridges serve, but I think that it takes away from the overall feel and appearance of the paddle. Also the carbon layup is not quite as nicely executed as other paddles; there are some inconsistent spots where the carbon has apparently stretched. This may actually be a cosmetic blem, now that I think about it...pro purchase is usually factory "seconds."
Usage wise, the paddle does pretty well. I have always felt that the Eagle-Ray blade design is pretty solid. While not a standout for either surfing or long distance touring it does both reasonably well. It also handles most maneuvers, including rolling adequately, though for whatever reason, I have had more luck with other paddles when doing a sculling draw.
All in all, this has been a pretty good paddle for me. If I were to buy a lifetime paddle, this would not necessarily be it, but as someone who earns their living with a paddle and kayak, it has served me quite well.
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