Adaptive Paddle




About: Appreciate what you've got, every day will bring something new.

The current design for enabling people to paddle outriggers with the use of one arm had a little draw back in that the paddle kept rotating. Without a second hand on top of the paddle there was no way the paddle could control the angle at which the blade dug in to the watter.

Funny little aside, at the time talking about the problem I shot an idea out that instead of hanging the paddle from a flexible pole by a bungee, fix it via a bolt to the pole. I forgot all about that and then over the winter set about with the design describe below. All happy with the prototype I proudly presented to the team at the first camp this year only to find they'd implemented the bolt-pole idea and it works a treat. That said, we're going to continue developing the adaptive handle as its already built.

Step 1: Rough Template

In the sketch below you can see the two basic components of the prototype. Firstly the user places their forearm in the horizontal section and secures with neoprene bands. The paddle is attached to the prototype above and below the hand.

Step 2: Glass It

1) I cut a large Y shape out of some divinycell 40 foam board.
2) Heated the forearm section and bent it to form a half pipe
3) Cut Y shape of 9 oz s-glass larger than the foam, it will wrap around the foam by about an inch
4) I mixed some epoxy resin and wet the foam core to ensure a good bond
5)lay down the glass and wet it epoxy completely
6) then lay down the release fabric which allows you to pull off the breather fabric.
7) The release fabric (darcon) is then stitched together on the reverse side to pull it and the glass underneath tort.
8) Then lay down the breather fabric which soaks up excess resin squeezed out by the vacuum press

Step 3: Bag It

The purpose of the vacuum press is to apply and even pressure to all surfaces. I set the contraption to draw around 20Hg. Depending on ambient temperature the resin will cure in anythign from 4 to 10 hours.

Once cured I cut the tread and peel back the release fabric which takes the breather fabric containing the excess resin off too.

Step 4: Cover in Neoprene

To help avoid any wear on the athlete's skin I decided to cover the adapter in neoprene. Simply cut out a shape that will wrap around the adapter and contact cement it together. I then glued the seam/join with a specific neoprene adhesive, you could easily just stitch it together

Step 5: Finished Design

I made clips for the paddle shaft with an aluminium rod (approx 1.5cm x 2mm) and stainless bolts with wingnuts to allow people to change paddly in the field or account for tapered shafts.

This was designed for Josh who is right handed with the idea being you flipped it over and attached the paddle accordingly... but it seems to work just as well for both right hand and left without having to reseat the paddle.

So, this is designed to work with the fibre glass rod and bungee cord as seen in the very first photo. The advantage of thie desing over both the original and the first revision is that this allows the athlete to lift the paddle out of the water away from the hull (fault of the second design is that its like a catipllar track in motion) yet this maintains the blade at 90 to the direction of travel,



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    13 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Are you still making these? My brother had a fore-quarter amputation 1.5 years ago and I would like to get him something useful.

    outrigger canoes use paddles, not oars, totally different boat. oars are long and would hit the outrigger. paddles get their power by being as close to the center-line of the boat and a paddle plant and direct straight back pull, using the torso muscles if able bodied. that is a very brief and missing parts explanation, as it is a lot of technique at 80 strokes a minute for 20 miles plus ironman races. adaptive paddling is great , outrigger paddling is great, a great team sport with great friendships, something you don't get in solo canoe races, unless they are marathon canoe racers
    flipping, "huli" is always a possibility and the iako, the wooden pieces, made of very strong wood, can knock able body paddlers out, and draw blood on the skull, which can be very bad in shark waters.
    every paddler has different abilities and limitations,so i give a lot of credit and applause to you for working on solutions. avoided skin damage is of extreme importance especially in salt water. Too bad so many different groups and i notice they all want the whole kingdom. maybe not in mass, is mike hyondi sp?? still paddling up there, i used to have good times with his people. blackburne challenge and such


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Never tried anything with outrigger canoes before, but being without full use of my left hand/wrist, I appreciate the fact that you took the time to create something like this.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    Great design!  Adding it to my collection of paddling adaptations!


    12 years ago

    nice conone

    Wade Tarzia

    12 years ago

    How did I miss this? Nice canoe, nice idea. Might even be useful as an idea to keep in mind for an injured paddler, alone, if the canoe could be kept in a straight line via rudder or other lateral resistance (the ama drag on my outrigger canoe lets me paddle three times on the outrigger side to once on the other side, so this not a crazy idea on an outrigger).

    1 reply
    radiorentalWade Tarzia

    Reply 12 years ago

    would certainly work as wrist support on a kayak paddle as well as the canoe paddle shown.


    13 years ago

    Thanks for the links Rick. You are very right in that this design isnt 'efficient'. I should point out that this is for outrigger canoing which is a slightly different mechanical operation compared to traditonal canoes. A number of other things I took in to consideration, but didnt document here, are;

    The atheletes come with various abilities. Quite often not having full range of movement at the waist. With outrigger's the top arm is always locked square over the paddle. The paddle is driven with a digging motion, lower back providing the energy. Remove/reduce the ability to twist at the waist and there is less of a need to allow leverage from the top arm.

    Its not unknown for the canoes to tip, I wanted something that the athelete could easily release.

    That all said I will talk to the experts at and see if there are more higher functioning atheletes that could handle a shoulder brace and use it as a lever efficiently.

    Thank you very much for your feedback, I'll keep you posted if I work on it.


    13 years ago

    Using a paddle with two arms, a canoeist has the mechanical advantage of leverage working for them. I figure it falls somewhere between a 2nd class & 3rd class lever, depending on how you look at it.

    A canoeist using only one arm may be able to benefit from using a paddle as a 3rd class lever using a rig as I've drawn (below). A shoulder brace would attach via a ball and socket joint to an arm's length of tubing. This would in turn be connected via hinge joint to the top of the paddle.

    The canoeist's hand would then be free to grip the paddle in the correct location, just above the blade. I believe the one hand should be able to adequately control the position and rotation of the paddle, as well as provide greater power per stroke.

    I hope this is a helpful take on your original idea!

    1 reply

    Reply 13 years ago

    I've included photo-notes on this image, but you'll have to click on it in order to see them.