The first paddle I bought was a Werner Camano. It is a very good paddle, not the most advanced design or pricing in any way, but a very good alround paddle for paddling tour kayaking. I selected the paddle after having tested a number of paddles without focusing too much on testing all paddles extensively (I was new in kayaking, and my first priority at that time was to get a good enough paddle to enjoy paddling and get out in the kayak). So in the beginning, I went for something I had tested and which was in the category of paddles that I preferred (a tour paddle) and with a shaft that can be parted.
I used the Camano paddle almost half a year, on many occasions and in many conditions. Still when going back to it now and then, it feels like a good paddle, it grips the water well, on both power and back side of the blade, and gives a feeling of efficiency. If I build up more muscles, I might go back to it or another paddle with larger paddle blades again.
After one specific longer session out in the wind and waves, I felt tired. I actually selected not to prolong the current trip in order to try to find seal, instead I fell back and waited close to shore for those doing that extension of the trip. The reason was that I felt that paddling out there would force me to after the search paddle a long bit back straight against the wind, and my muscles aked from the padlding we had already had. At that time, I decided that my blade was too big, since my muscles were more tired than the rest of me.
So I looked for non wing paddles (I believe that if they are so much more efficient than tour paddles, then you will have to take a smaller wing blade than a tour blade to get comparable power need, and then the drawback on backside paddle usage, like braces, will be even higher). I thought on what kind of paddle that would be best, and decided I wanted a good touring kayak paddle with smaller blade than my current one. After a rather hasty research on kayak paddle vendors, I came to the conclusion that Werner paddle was a possible choice. There are other vendors, and there is differences between vendors, but I had gotten a lot of feedback on Werner who are popular for non wing paddles, and also had tested some of their different paddles, so Ifelt that they had what I wanted.
My wife had a Werner Athena, which is a smaller tour kayak paddle blade than my old one. She had previously had a Werner little dipper paddlewhich I had used myself on many occasions, so I decided to test the Werner Athena. I went to test it an evening where the weather forecast from the morning had said light breeze. But I arrived to an ocean where it had been moderate to fresh breeze last couple of hours. So it was high waves, wind, and some surf. Not how I had planned to test the kayak paddle, but actually the environment for which I was aiming with the new kayak paddle.
I paddled with it for a distance of 7 kilometers, plus a little surfing. It was a definite positive difference to the bigger blade. Braces and rolls muight be negatively affected, but this was the downshift of gears that I had hoped for. Ordinary paddling goes better, does not require as much muscle power. Instead, I have to paddle more often to get the same distance than with the bigger blade, but the effort to do that is such that I can do it for a longer time before getting tired.
Same week, I bought a Werner Athena kayak paddle with a little longer shaft than my wife has (225 centimeters, 5 centimeters shorter than my shaft on the Werner Camano). This might bne the right shaft for stronger winds. Still today I think that those 5 centimeters extra that I have on the Werner Camano fits me better, specially when I raise the paddling angle to get higher speeds. But can one really feel the difference from 5 centimeters?
I have now been paddling for a couple of months with my new smaller kayak paddle. In the beginning, it felt good to paddle, but a little too small for doing eskimo rolls and for bracing. But the longer i have used it, the better I like it. It might give less power in the eskimo roll, or in a low brace or a high brace, but the power it gives is enough.
In fact, I prefer now the little weaker power it gives. It is easier in windy conditions to stay stable with the paddle when doing for example sideway sculling draws, or the bow rudder. This is due to it giving little less power.