Due to my ill health and inclement weather this review has been much delayed but the paddle has now covered a total of 350km and been paddled by myself and 5 others on a number of day trips which have varied between F0 to F4. The locations have included the Solway Firth, the Firth of Clyde and the area round the Sound of Arisaig. On most trips, we alternated between the VE Voyager, the VE Explorer small, the Werner Cyprus and a Lettmann Blacklight Greenland paddle for 5km each. On other trips Tony who normally uses a Werner Cyprus used the VE Voyager for a 30km trip, and David used the Voyager on 70km in separate tripos. I covered the remainder of the distance alternating between the VE Voyager, the VE Explorer small and large, the Werner Cyprus and a Lettmann Blacklight GP.
Phil, above, took to the Voyager straight away. Though Phil is a natural high angle paddler, he liked it both for high angle and low angle paddling.
Mike noticed that the split paddle has two different sized halves. This is because the shaft has been cut exactly in the middle so that the leverlock is in the middle when the shaft is at its shortest. (Of course when the shaft is extended, it is offset). He found that the longer half would not fit in his cockpit which has a custom bulkhead, neither would it fit in his Subaru Impreza boot. David also found the longer half would not fit in his BMW E46 3 series boot. This meant we could not put all our gear in the cockpit and get the cockpit cover on when we trolleyed the kayaks onto a ferry or put them onto the roofrack when running a shuttle.
Scottish Lendal used to cut the shaft to one side of the midline and fit the joining spigot to the shorter half. (The Lendal shaft above is not adjustable in length but Lendal adjustable length shafts were also cut like this.) This results in the two halves being as short as possible, which is the whole point of having a two piece. It makes it easier to transport. I fed this back to Stu at VE paddles and he has taken the comments on board. He will now offer a further option to split the two piece shaft asymmetrically to make more equal halves to suit those customers who need their two pieces as short as possible. Well done Stu!
Maurice also commented how the Voyager had a more gentle catch and less flutter than the Cyprus even when accelerating hard. He was also surprised by the power of the Voyager blades. One unexpected result of this particular day was that both Mike and Maurice tried the GP after trying the Voyager. They had each tried the GP once before after using their Cyprus paddles. In those tests neither of them liked the GP. This time they both appreciated the GP more after having tried the Voyager first! Although Maurice preferred the VE Voyager to his own Werner Cyprus and is looking for a second paddle, he felt the Voyager was too close in style to his Werners and is thinking of buying a GP as a second paddle.
As far as my own impression is concerned, I echo the comments about clean entry and exit, the gentle catch, the surprising power with lack of flutter and the low strain on my joints when pushing on. Like Phil, I found the Voyager worked equally well in high or low paddling styles and it certainly is no slouch if you are paddling hard with a high angle stroke (which both Phil and Tony favoured when using the Voyager). Due to the recent weather we have not yet tried paddling when loaded on a camping expedition but the ease of paddling on a day trip bodes well for their use when loaded on longer trips.
I fed this information back to Stu at VE paddles and guess what? Flexible and obliging as always Stu now offers the paddle grip indexing on not just both shafts but it now extends further in to keep your hands on the indexing even when the paddle is fully extended.
Durability. The test paddle had already been used before we took delivery. At the end of this test the blade edges were pristine, despite several rocky encounters. This is a very hard wearing paddle design which is much more resistant to damage than foam core blades from other manufacturers. The joint mechanism operated faultlessly throughout the test.
Specifications of the Euro paddles used in this comparative test:
VE Voyager AirCore carbon fibre blades, two piece, glass fibre, straight shaft 2.15-2.25m, 860g, blade area 642cm2, price as tested £294.00.
VE Explorer AirCore carbon fibre AirCore blades two piece carbon fibre straight shaft 2.00-2.10m 810g, blade area 615cm2
Werner Cyprus carbon fibre foam core blades two piece carbon fibre crank shaft 2.10 fixed 710g, blade area 615cm2
The VE Voyager AirCore (and Explorer AirCore) blades are available in carbon and the shafts are available in a wide variety of specifications: straight or cranked, in glass or carbon and indexed on either or both sides.
Further information at http://vepaddles.com and from firstname.lastname@example.org
* Leif commented about using a slightly narrower grip for a low angle paddling style.