-- Last Updated: Dec-06-12 5:14 PM EST --
I make and use my own paddles. I find that there is a "sweet spot" for any combination of paddle area, boat, and paddler. Making the paddle area bigger just makes the paddling "heavy".
I like straight shafted traditional paddles with a 5-1/2 to 6 inch blade width, about 23 inches long, and beavertail for the solo paddling that I do because I find that a beavertail does a nice job in a J-stroke. I also like the narrow traditional blade because it enters the water quietly, smoothly and gradually. I enjoy using those "old" designs much better than any store-bought paddle that've owned.
You see, some of my preferences are qualitative, not quantitative.
By the way, I am an engineer...numbers aren't everything they're cracked up to be.