1976 – The San Juan touring paddle
The first San Juan touring paddle
While on expedition with his new WT-500 touring kayak, Werner Sr. noticed something wrong with the paddle he was using. Most of the paddles he had made to this date were for whitewater paddling. Using mostly forward strokes when touring, he had an idea to make a smoother, more efficient paddle.
In the summer of 1976 I helped my dad make the first San Juan blade using a vacuum technique. The blade did not look that great but the design, with its strong dihedral power face and asymmetric shape, proved superior to all prior paddles used.
Hand shaping a laminated wood shaft and using a metal ferrule, Werner Jr. would later help refine the construction technique of the blades to make a beautiful touring paddle.
Within a few years the San Juan, named after the famous San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, proved itself to be a revolutionary advancement for touring kayaking.
Every paddler who tried the San Juan wanted one of their own. Within a few years Werner Jr found himself building paddles here and there until being thrust in full time paddle making in the early ‘80’s.
The San Juan proved to be the seed that grew into the Werner Paddle Company today cementing Werner Furrer Sr’s legacy in the kayaking community.
Happy New Year and Happy Paddling,