Invented: a new kayak paddle
There is a new kind of paddle, developed in the U.S., called Gullwing. The inventor found the common paddles quite inadequate for their intended purpose. "Why Dig You When You Can glide" - with a Gullwing you glide where the rest of us who struggle with wing paddles, euros and Greenland paddles merely dig inefficiently in the water.
Now I have not tried Gullwing and therefore have no idea if it lives up to the inventor's enthusiasm, or is just another pretentious solution to a problem that does not exist.
There are two sides to this. On one hand, a lot of peculiarities are invented when it dawns on creative but lazy people that it takes some practice before you can paddle like Oscar Chalupsky and roll like Dubside - hence a great need for shortcut gadgets. On the other hand, laziness is one of the main driving forces behind many important innovations.
The development of the Gullwing also targeted a medical issue - a shoulder problem which made it difficult to use standard paddles. But we are quite a number of paddlers who paddle happily and confidently despite minor shoulder and back problems - because we've taken the time to learn to use the tools properly.
But an inventor with insufficient understanding and experience, quite often throw the baby out with the bathwater. One minor problem may be solved, but the overall usability is lost in the process.
Check out Google Patents , search for "kayak" or "paddling" for some surrealistic insight into the minds of inventors and patent clerks. The patents catalog is full of great ideas, hatched by people who never figured out how to use a paddle, and therefore very seriously take on the responsibility to help the rest of us poor wretches in our spiritual and bodily distress with primitive, difficult, uncomfortable and unsafe vehicles and substandard equipment.
I believe for example that the crankshaft paddle addresses a fairly minor problem – that some never learned to relax the grip on the shaft – while increasing cost and weight.
But what paddling-related problem is the inventor of this paddle addressing (Patent No: 4,673,361)?
And one might guess that the inventor of this paddle has troubles with directional stability (Patent No: 5364296).
This inventor seems to need a third hand to control an unruly paddle (Patent No: 7,581,996).
And if that shouldn't do the trick, here is a "biomechanically correct pedal powered paddling system for small watercrafts" for those who find the path of the paddle totally unintelligable (patent: 7264521).
This cleverly integrated floatation solution should be a great help to those who always forget to bring the paddle float when things go seriously wrong (patent No: 11470217):
But what problems the double shafted kayak paddle with rotating handles is intended to solve (and for whom?) evades my judging (Patent: 5851132):
... and since there are paddles with built-in mirrors, paddles with lanterns in the blade tips, paddles with electric heated shaft for winter use (batteries in the shaft) and a lot of other mind-blowing paddle-(and weight)enhancing supplements, patent 6632111 will perhaps be a pure blessing - imaging not having to support the paddle weight with your arms:
Who has not dreamed of a one-arm paddle (Patent: 7311573)?
Had the paddler in the picture been one-armed, I would perhaps have understood at least the idea...
Looking back, I do not understand how I survived all these years without a cockpit tray, with holder for a beer can, hamburger box and camera/phone bolted in front of the cockpit (patent: 6,755,145). Compromising the stroke mechanics? Yes maybe, but it's all about prioritizing! Note the paddle holder that after a number of paddle trips with soft drinks and hamburgers probably will get into close encounters with the solar plexus:
...this far into the patent circus, patent No. 5481997 may start to feel like a relief – a jet-propelled kayak! Finis malorum:
Now it's maybe a little unfair talking about Gullwing in the same post as these preposterous inventions - if we all are to paddle Gullwing in a few years, I probably will have to eat this post ;-)
Perhaps my negative reaction is about unsubstantiated claims in marketing (as the Gullwing glide vs dig thing). Statements that so obviously contradict common sense and experience will be awarded a well earned stamp of ridicule and the stuff involved relegated to the cabinet of curiosities. Other examples are Tim Ingram, whom I wrote about earlier, and whose unsubstantiated hot air, hardly can be appreciated enough by competitors, and to some degree Yoav Rosen, whose presentations are sprinkled with too much "best in the world" and "the only one" to be taken seriously...