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I give it a 9+, leaving a little room for something out there I haven't held yet. I plan on growing old with this paddle.
First impressions were that it really is a pretty paddle, built of straight, exceptionally tight grained cedar. However, while very light, it was not the magical lightness of a composite design. Also, the fiberglass reinforcement gave the blade faces a somewhat rippled surface and the thick varnish was slightly less than perfect. On the other hand, the tip of the remarkably thin blade seemed like it had the ideal amount of spring, the shaft and grip dimensions felt perfect and the balance was simply exquisite.
Out on the water, this paddle has two characters, both very satisfactory. For slow, windless paddling, it is delicate and light and extremely quiet. It J's beautifully, with so much blade authority that simply making the motion keeps my 16'Penobscot in line. It excels at gentle, effortless, all day paddling. However, when the wind and current come up hard and you are being blown against the rocks and you are wondering how your paddle doesn't snap from the strain, this is the one to have. Under maximum effort conditions, this paddle doesn't show the slightest trace of flutter, swerve, or torque. The shaft seems to show no flex at all and you can feel measured tip deflection. It is not like the snap and twang I get from my AT Exception composite kayak paddle, but a softer rebound that seems very effective for moving a canoe. All tolled, a very nice, highly capable paddle that even has a finish that doesn't generate blisters. And oh that wonderful balance...
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