Tested By Earth, Wind and FireWhitewater Kayaking - Mar 16, 2018
In the spring 1998 I entered the river for my first strokes in a kayak. Somewhere downstream Colorado waves still swollen from melting snow caught me from the side and I capsized. I composed myself to a C to C technique that I had practiced dozen’s of times in the lake and let that rehearsal play out in cold muddy water. Seconds later I was upright and my paddling career began. I started angling, ferrying, flailing into powerful eddys; flipping, and then rolling up. I was invincible! Then I slammed straight into the biggest hole on the river, got worked and swam. When I returned home my neighbor was waiting for me and he looked mad. He immediately came over grabbed the paddle that I had borrowed and stomped off. I later found out that I had borrowed his favorite most trusted paddle: a beautiful, lightweight, straight-shaft powerhouse Werner.
The paddle had survived unscathed, but for the rest of the summer I was relegated to borrowing a variety of cheaper plastic, aluminum, and glass paddles. It didn’t even feel like the same sport, still it was a sport I fell in love with. Over the following 7 year’s I started kayaking hard with other paddles. I snapped paddles on rocks, I snapped paddles on my boat, I even snapped a few on my head, and then in 2005 I got my hands on a Werner Paddle once again.
So what is it about a Werner? Is it the feel? The light weight? The blade shape? Yes, yes, and yes but for me the most outstanding feature of the Werner Paddle is the durability. So why is it so durable? I could tell you or you can take a trip to the Skykomish River in Washington and see for yourself. Each paddle is made by hand Skykomish River paddlers who understand how important a quality paddle is in the most demanding whitewater. One year, on a trip to Hawaii, Pedro Oliva even used his Werner Blade to scoop up a dollop of molten hot lava. Then the next day I made a first D of a 30 meter falls with the same paddle where the paddle survived once again with wind and water hitting the paddle with 60mph of force. So you might be wondering about the earth test. I think we can safely say that Chris Korbulic’s 1st and only descent of 199 problems on the South Branch Feather qualifies as he rutered down this vertical 130 foot granite face and clanged off a massive feature in the middle at high speed with both he and the paddle surviving intact. Is it impossible to break a Werner Paddle? Of course not, but I have no doubt it is the most trustworthy paddle on the market today. And that means Ultimate Paddle Performance!
- Ben Stookesberry, author