When my wife and I started paddling, we took an intro class, rented, went on tours with outfitter, paddled with local paddlers with borrowed gear.
That gave us really good exposure to equipment options, let us test drive a variety of boats, paddles, pfds.
It also convinced us not to go tandem, but that is besides the point.
Anyways, in the rental fleet of company that I instruct and guide for we have SINK and SOT tandems, everybody manages to get by with Werner 210 Tybee. It might be not the most ideal boat/paddle combination, but it gets the job done.
For the actual paddling - in tandem same cadence, or strokes per minute, for both paddlers is desirable. If paddlers are quite mismatched power-wise and have same surface area blades, one of them is going to slack off, the other get exhausted.
A really good resource for trying out equipment is local paddler groups and outfitters. Perhaps you could ran a search for online groups?
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