(answered by Vláďa Galuška)


What is the ideal age to start paddling?

If the kid is interested in it, it could be as soon as 5. It’s ideal to start with a smaller boat and a paddle with a slim shaft and smaller blades. Using a composite shaft is ideal, as it is softer and won’t feel as cold as a duralumin one. Don’t forget about a paddling helmet and a vest!


What is the optimal paddle length for me?

That’s a pretty tricky question. It depends on your height, arm span and personal preference. A ton of paddlers are similar in height but use different paddle lengths. That’s why it’s important to disregard the old rule, which said that your kayak paddle should be as long as the height you can reach with your hands stretched above you. For canoe paddles, it used to be that they should reach right under your chin or chest. When you are younger, it’s good to take your coach’s advice or try using a paddle someone similar in height uses. By the time you stop growing in height, you should have found a length you are comfortable with, which you would usually use for the rest of your career.

Here are a few examples:

  • Antonie Galušková, kayak, age 21, height 174 cm, paddle length 199 cm
  • Bára Galušková, kayak, age 16, height 169 cm, paddle length 197 cm
  • Vít Přindiš, kayak, age 33, height 181 cm, paddle length 202 cm
  • Vavřinec Hradilek, kayak, age 35, height 168 cm, paddle length 200 cm

What blade size should I use for slalom?

Some people pick larger sizes to feel the impact of every stroke they make. Some people prefer smaller sizes, which help them conserve energy over longer training sessions or races. For older racers, it’s all about testing. For younger racers, I would advise picking a smaller blade size. It’s good for new racers to learn how to find the pull in the water by themselves rather than letting the paddle do it for them. This will come in handy as they progress and age. Let’s take my daughter Antonie as an example. Two times world champion and, since 2020, a Czech national team member. At 13 years of age, she started using the NAJA MINI paddle, which I even had reduced by an extra 1 cm around the circumference. With this paddle, she placed 3rd at the WJC. At the time, she was still growing, and she had started to have to get her body into an extreme back position when skipping a wave or a stopper. She also started to do the duffek twice. Because of that, she got a fresh unmodified NAJA MINI, with which she placed 4th at the WJC. She was still growing and getting stronger, so after a few months, she got NAJA MIDI. With that one, she became a junior world champion for the first in the next season. She has been using that blade ever since. Paddling with three different blade sizes might sound really scary for a ‘parent-investor’, but it can be a must for racers who grow incredibly fast in very short time periods. Trainers are the ones who should see when it’s needed.

How do I treat my paddle to make it last as long as possible?

Each paddle has its lifespan, and each paddle is destructible. Its lifespan can be influenced. A pro, who trains every day and also attends races, will expect to have to get a new paddle every season. A paddle will gradually lose its properties with use. Pros know that you have to take care of the paddle to get all out of it over its entire lifespan. And yeah, the paddle’s lifespan can indeed be 30 years. As long as you use the paddle a few times a year.

What to protect my paddle from?

Your paddle has to be protected from high temperatures and UV rays. Even if the shaft and blades are tempered during production, leaving your paddle under direct sunshine is a huge mistake. UV rays will slowly chip away the outer layer, while the high temperature and sharp temperature changes will negatively impact the construction. The prevention is as simple as dropping your paddle in the shade or putting it into a paddle bag.

Protect your paddle from mechanical damage. From time to time, you will hit an obstacle during paddling. The paddle might crack or fully break when that happens, which is pretty much unavoidable. What is avoidable, though, is damaging the paddle when it is out of water. Throwing your paddle on the shore, storing paddles on a pile, transporting paddles without bags, and risking a paddle’s fall when leaning it against a car. All of these will guarantee that the lifespan of the paddle will be really short. The carbon construction behaves similarly to a glass pane. After a glazier puts a cut into it with a diamond, it can easily be broken with only your fingers at the line of that cut. If you make a small superficial crack in your paddle, it can also easily break at that point, even if it’s completely new and you are just having a leisurely paddle. It doesn’t even have to be a superficial crack. During impact, a small crack can form in the internal carbon construction. You wouldn’t be able to see this damage. Over your training sessions and races, this crack will slowly increase in size. The strain will be too much at a certain point, and the crack will finally make the paddle break. If you are lucky, this will happen during a training session. If you are unlucky, it will be during the final ride of the World Championship, when you are in the lead by a second at the second split.

How to prevent damage to the paddle in water? The best of the best will know where not to stick the paddle, how to react with it and how to best push yourself off the shore with it. It all comes with experience. Remember, though, all paddles are destructible!

What is the waiting period to have a paddle made?

We usually have blades and shafts in stock unless we receive a huge order. This means the order processing time is mostly around a week or two. For some specific blade types (e.g., MANIC), the delivery time might even be a few months.

Would it be possible to have my blade fixed into the shaft with Kofix (hot-melt adhesive) so it would be easier to replace a damaged blade?

I personally think the connection between a blade and a shaft should be perfectly rigid, and this can only be achieved through solid fixation of the blade and the shaft.

My personal opinion on hot-melt adhesive is that it only has 2 advantages. It’s easy to replace the blade, and you can easily dismantle it when you want to transport it by plane in parts. Considering that blade damage is reasonably rare, and we don’t charge our customers anything for the work on replacing a blade (you only need to cover the transport costs), the advantages really drop in value.

The disadvantages could be much more significant. The blade and the shaft have a higher risk of breaking because wiggling may occur, even if it’s hardly noticeable. The blade is then more likely to break in its neck, and the shaft can easily tear. The connection is also not guaranteed to be waterproof. If the connection isn’t solid, part of the energy from every stroke might be spent on the micro-movements. Maybe I wouldn’t worry about these things with the youngest kids. With older racers who have some force to their stroke, I would not recommend hot-melt adhesive fixation. This goes double for important races. And a really important piece of information is that we don’t offer a warranty for the blade or the shaft breaking, if they are fixed with hot-melt adhesive.

I was told that my paddle could corrode if used on the sea...

It’s true. If used on the sea, the paddle will slowly corrode. The worst thing about corrosion is the increase in the volume of the duralumin fittings, which will then cause the blade to tear in that spot. That’s why you never see any sea boats use duralumin in any of their parts. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, they used salt water for their tracks. When it got warm, and the water evaporated, the salt concentration even increased. In the end, it wasn’t an issue, though, as you had a freshwater pool on hand where you could wash your paddle. We don’t recommend using our paddles in salt water. If you do happen to do so, make sure to wash it in fresh water afterwards.


How to fix our boats during transport?

If you are transporting one or two boats, it’s best to just put them on roof racks facings backwards and upside down. If you don’t mind the higher fuel consumption, you can have them on the side of a car or in a trailer. If you are transporting more boats, ensure they are all in bags so they don’t scratch.

What is the biggest mistake when fixating my boat?

Using the wrong materials. The worst of the worst, if I ignore the use of some sketchy strings and ropes, is the use of straps with socket wrench tightening. You can pretty much crush your boat with the socket wrench. Sure, as a boat owner, you will know to tighten the straps carefully. But if you, for example, let your inexperienced friend do it, and it’s 40 degrees in the shade, so the boat is heated up to 80 degrees, you will have a disaster on the table. People are then surprised that they have cracks on their deck. Personally, I’m not too fond of the commonly used rubber straps, even though you can fix a whole bunch of boats with only one piece of rubber strap, as long as you are really skilled with it. 

The ideal straps are, in my opinion, ones with buckles. But for god’s sake, not the cheapest ones, which are pretty much see-through, because they have the weight of a T-shirt made in China. The final rule is to always fix your boats gently rather than super tightly. It’s always better to be gentle with it, and check after the first 50 km, whether you need to tighten them up a bit more.

What is the waiting period for boats?

It’s usually crazy before a season starts, so the waiting period can be up to 4 months. At the end of a season, it’s usually around 2 months. Definitely don’t wait with your boat order until the last moment.

I have a 5-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. They only have bigger boats at the boathouse. What would you recommend in this situation?

It can be challenging to pick a boat for the tiniest racers. ICF sets pretty straightforward rules regarding the sizes and weights of boats meant for competitions (length 3.5 m, width 60 cm, weight 9 kg). Smaller kids would swim in a boat of that size. It’s better to get them a boat that fits them well. For the youngest ones, that would be the DINO (length 297 cm, width 53 cm), which is meant for racers under 28 kg. For the slightly older ones, with some slalom experience, it would be the ANIK (length 317 cm, width 57 cm), which will last them until 45 kg.

For example, in Canada, they have adjusted the rules considering this, so you can use the ANIK up until the age of 13-14. In the Czech Republic, you would have to use the standard ICF size of a boat from the age of 8, which sounds absurd. Luckily the race organisers are sane people, and it has not yet happened that they would kick some kid out just because they brought a smaller boat. People are usually happy that at least a tiny part of the kid sticks out of the boat.

How to properly fix the seat inside of my boat?

Different racers will give you different answers to this. Some will put the seat into the eye or to a place they have had it in before. Some will put it into the position recommended by us. Some will have fun with it for a very long time and slowly find the position which feels the best for them. Only then will they permanently fix it in place. A good thing to consider is that boats are made for the ‘convectional’ physique. People with naturally bigger or longer legs will have some issues. It is then essential to put your seat one or two centimetres to the back, and your problem will be fixed. Legs are a pretty heavy part of the body, so you must consider the effect this all has on your centre of gravity. Funnily, this is all really easy for those who traded their height for some width. ?? There are ‘convectional’ racers, and then someone like the French racer Boris Neveu (two-time senior world champion), who has his seat at the very back edge of the cockpit. Always try to find what is best for YOU.

Is there a point in installing a movable seat for regular use?

It’s important to say that I wouldn’t recommend using a movable in important races or for long-term use. Even if you tighten the system of the movable seat as best as possible, there would still be little movements. Even if you don’t feel it, the seat will slowly wear off and might slide at the worst possible moment, ruining a race. Movable seats are great for test boats, to find the right seat position. Definitely not for long-term use, where finding the right position isn’t needed.

Are boats damaged by freezing temperatures?

The temperature in most areas doesn’t really present much danger to the boats. And even if it’s freezing outside, the water temperature in the river does not drop under 0 °C. There is one risk connected with sub-zero temperatures, though. Pretty much every material is porous to a certain degree. The carbon construction is still a bit porous, even if you don’t see it. For our purposes, imagine putting a bottle of water into the freezer and then taking it out a day later. The water, now turned ice, will have expanded. If water gets into the pores inside the carbon construction, and you take it out of the water into the freezing air, it might cause problems. If you take the boat straight into the boathouse or anywhere the temperature is above zero, you have nothing to worry about. If you don’t have anywhere to take it, I would recommend at least drying it out manually. The boat does not act exactly like the bottle in the freezer, so it won’t be damaged by making a single mistake here. But think about what water and freezing temperatures do to roads. That’s caused by this exact phenomenon but repeated many times over. If you just now realise that your boat is that little bit softer than it used to be a year or two back, you now know why! Please be a good owner to your little boat, and get it its own towel and give her a little rub after every training. It will make her life a little bit nicer.