For over 50 years, Werner has been at the forefront of paddle design and innovation. With the recent release of the all new Werner Odachi, they have cemented themselves as a premier innovator in the whitewater industry. Werner took cues from previous paddle designs, as well as input from many of the world’s top paddlers, in order to create a whitewater racing paddle that was as fast as a typical slalom paddle, but came with Werner’s bomber durability.
In developing the Odachi, Werner sought to create a fast, light and durable paddle for the ever evolving whitewater racing circuit. They started by creating a foam core blade with a symmetrical tip to maximize power in strong, vertical, forward strokes. The blade glides through the water as effortlessly as a cold PBR goes down after a long day on the river. With an eye for durability and strength, Werner outfitted the Odachi with the same Dynel edging seen on their other Ultimate line paddles. This prevents the paddle from wearing down and losing its original blade size and shape. Werner also increased the blade to shaft offset in order to increase reach and maximize the power output from each stroke. This is what gives the blade its scoop like appearance.
In comparison to the Shogun, the Odachi is far lighter (30 ounces versus 36 ounces) and has a larger blade size (735cm^2 versus 711cm^2). On the water, both of these are noticeable right from the get go. Six ounces may seem like a minimal difference but over the course of hundreds of strokes it adds up quickly. Even holding the two side by side, the difference is very apparent. The larger blade size is felt with the first stroke and for smaller paddlers, such as myself, can be taxing on the upper body and shoulders especially. With that said, each stroke with the Odachi is incredibly responsive and makes maneuvering and acceleration that much faster.
The carbon shaft on the paddle makes it much lighter than any of Werner’s other options and is a happy medium between stiffness and flexibility. The paddle is strong, responsive and efficient but does not feel as harsh on the upper body as a standard foam core paddle. This was counter intuitive, but I believe that because the shaft is lighter and made with less material than a standard Werner straight shaft, it offered slightly more flex.
Due to the unique blade shape, the paddle is at its best when taking vertical, forward strokes. This paddle does not reward non-aggressive paddling styles. The scooped blade makes both rolling and bracing slightly more difficult but can easily be adapted to. As for correction strokes such as rudders and draws, I felt very little difference.
- Light, feels well balanced and good in your hands.
- Strong, efficient, but offers enough flex to not rip your shoulders out of your sockets.
- Foam core blade slips through water with ease.
- Extra blade area gives you that much more power.
- My tendinitis flared up after using the paddle extensively. Not sure if that was due to the stiffness, larger blade size, or paddling my ass off…probably the latter…
- Takes getting used to, but advanced paddlers will quickly adapt.
- Bracing and rolling are not as easy with this paddle, but really it just takes time to get used to it.
- After using it, you will have to buy one!
In conclusion, the Odachi is the sh#t and there isn’t really a better way to put it. Werner did not design this paddle to be an all around paddle and it should be part of a larger quiver. But, if you can find a place for it, it is definitely worth it. For general river running, the paddle offers extra power for all forward strokes and once a paddler becomes used to it, it will be hard to go back. I would not suggest making this the only paddle you own however. Foam Core paddles are not known for durability and I am not sold on how bomber the carbon shaft would be for creeking. If you’re like Ricky Bobby and “Just wanna go fast!” then this paddle is for you. Personally, I’m a guy who likes going fast and will be using an Odachi to do so in 2016.