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Paddles are shaped to provide efficient strokes. But I have a question about that design. Why does the small part of the paddle belong on the bottom? Looking at it, wouldn't it make more sense to put the larger part of the paddle at the bottom to get more power from the paddle? I've posted a picture along with this. I've been paddling for a while and still can't get myself to understand this concept.

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I believe it has more to do with keeping the paddle ballanced on both sides (top and bottom) of the shaft. If the bottom were larger more force would be placed on that part of the paddle. Your hand's attempt to counteract this and keep the paddle straight in the water would lead to paddle flutter (not to mention sore wrists!). By having less face below the centerline of the shaft the entire face is more balanced since the top half, which spends less time in the water, has more area to make up for the bottom's extra "wet" time. Of course, it all varies throughout the stroke but on average this design gives equal force top to bottom on the paddle blade. Make sense?
Mike has the right idea. it's all about balence. Don't look at the paddle horizontal, imagine it at an angle, as it would be in the water. If it was purely a rectangle, then the part of the blade on the boat side of the shaft would have more surface area in the water, and the blade would want to twist in your hand.
Thanks Mike and Geoff for the info. That does make sense and balance is a good thing to have in a kayak - ha/ha.

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