-- Last Updated: Feb-18-13 2:01 PM EST --
Last May I went on a paddle with a local club on a long flat water river. Because of good weather the power boats came out a few weeks early. The wake from one threw my weight onto the blade while I was slightly bracing for stability getting out of my kayak. The Aleutian paddle cracked under the stress, with a long and deep longitudinal crack. NO one in the group, including me, had brought a spare paddle even though we all know better.
I had to paddle a few miles back to the launch with the paddle blade oriented backwards, so the water pressure closed the crack. Paddling in proper orientation (ridge on power face) would have finished breaking the paddle. The stress in my forearms after paddling to the launch with the Aleution paddle held backwards convinced me that those who are advocating that orientation are wrong.
I have repaired the broken paddle and now ALWAYS carry a spare.