Until now, in order to kayak, a person had to have two fully functioning arms, strong back and core muscles, an absence of shoulder injuries, and cardiovascular endurance. Those preconditions have now been eliminated thanks to the introduction of a new "weightless" kayak paddle, called the Angle Oar.
Angle Oar, LLC, based in San Luis Obispo, CA, will soon begin offering a newly patented kayak paddle to marketplace. The paddle will open up kayaking to millions of new enthusiasts of varying ages and abilities, including people with physical disabilities, senior citizens, one arm amputees, kayak anglers, children and novice kayakers who want to enjoy the sport without the physical exertion it normally entails. "The Angle Oar is not intended to replace, improve upon or mimic a traditional kayak paddle. The stroke patterns and maneuverability are very different. Instead, it gives people who would never have been able to kayak, due to strength limitations or health conditions, the opportunity to do so," said Meg McCall, president of Angle Oar.
That includes people like Nicole Studebaker, a Michigan woman with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disorder that affects the formation of connective tissue. "I had both of my shoulders repaired surgically a few years back, so I'm hesitant to kayak for even short distances. I've been all over the Internet for months looking for a product like this. It will impact so many people," said Studebaker.
The Angle Oar, which has design elements of both a paddle and an oar, rests upon a centrally mounted post that sits on the floor of the kayak and absorbs the weight of the paddle. The two shafts each angle downward roughly 25 degrees and rotate about a clevis and post. The paddle can also be removed from the mount and used as a traditional straight paddle (i.e., 180 degrees). The Angle Oar system eliminates the torso rotation, shoulder and upper body movement normally required to propel a kayak. Instead, the paddler uses a simple rotary movement of the forearms - much like pedaling a bicycle - to operate the paddle. As a result, even someone with one arm can easily use the paddle. "The Angle Oar is a great way for people to paddle with only one arm, whether for people who can only use one side or for fishermen who want to paddle with one arm and fish with the other," said Tom Reilly, ACA-certified paddling instructor and owner of Momentum Paddle Sports.
The device was designed by avid outdoors-man and retired engineer, Jim Van Gompel, who took up kayaking a decade ago at age 75. With more than 60 patents to his name, Van Gompel knew there was a way to reduce the physical exertion required to enjoy a day of fishing and kayaking. His daughter, Meg McCall, a former IT marketing executive, is heading up the company. "When I first saw the Angle Oar, I knew instantly that it would fill a tremendous unmet need, particularly in the adaptive paddling arena," said McCall, who lives in SLO. "I love it, too. I can paddle for hours without breaking a sweat, which means I can focus more on the beauty of my surroundings."
UPDATE 24 November 2016:
Angle Oar Paddle - Kayaking For People with Disabilities and Seniors - Angle Oar is a paddle for recreational kayakers, kayak anglers and paddlers with strength or endurance limitations - Angle Oar, LLC