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HOME arrow GEAR INSIGHTS arrow PADDLE REVIEW: The Spanker by Werner
PADDLE REVIEW: The Spanker by Werner PDF Print E-mail
By: Nate Burgoyne   
Friday, 04 January 2008
I recently has the opportunity to try out Werner Paddles' Spanker on the North Shore of Oahu and was impressed. I met up with Werner Rep. Dan Gavere to see what their paddle is all about. The paddle is all carbon fiber and comes in a one or two piece model. The paddle is built with carbon fiber over a foam core. The blade is 19.5" x 9.25" with a dihedral back. That's the fancy word for an elevated spine on the blade that many stand up paddles have. It has a nylon T-grip handle and an oval shaft.

Everyone's experience with a product is going to vary. For this review, I'm 6' tall and weight about 175lbs. The waves on the day we reviewed the paddle were shoulder high to about a foot overhead and the wind was blowing, so I did plenty of paddling to keep from blowing off down the coastline.

The first thing that struck me about the Spanker was how light it was. The paddle weighs a mere 19 oz. I have to admit that when I first picked up the paddle, I was somewhat skeptical about its strength because of how light it was. Then, Dan put leaned it up against the bumper of his Jeep, put his foot on it and hopped his weight up on it. If that wasn't enough, the day before he met up with some local stand up paddlers and told the biggest guy in the group that to take the paddle out for a session and if it breaks, Dan said he'll pay the brother $100. It never broke. The point is, as far as I can tell, the paddle is strong.

Let's start at the the top. The paddle has a T-style grip. The handle actually turn down slightly, so it's more like a turned down T-grip. The good thing about the shape is that you can quickly slide your hand up the shaft without your hand sliding off the top of the paddle. At first, it felt like there were some hot spots on the handle where I could develop blisters, especially on my thumb. I think it's the turned-down angle of the handle. However, after about 15 minutes I was comfortable with it. I guess the point is, the turned down T-grip might feel sort of awkward at first, like putting on a new pair of shoes or something. Along those lines, Dan told me that they are in the process of putting a new rounded contoured handle on the paddles. He had one with him that I tried out, and it was nice. T-grip or contoured grip is your own personal preference. I couldn't say that one is better than the other.

The handle is nylon so that if you lean it up against your car and it falls over, it's not going to crack open on the pavement. That's a nice feature. Also, the handle wasn't slippery at all.

The carbon fiber shaft is an oval shape as are most stand up paddles so you can keep the blade pointed where you need it to be. The fibers in the carbon fiber sheeting are wrapped around the shaft so that that fibers are straight vertical and horizontal. The flex in the shaft was comfortable. I didn't feel like I was whipping the paddle out of the water, nor did I feel like I was tugging on a steel pole while I was paddling. In terms of shaft flex, I think Werner got it just right.

The Spanker comes in a two piece model for easy travel and storage. In fact, I didn't realize that the paddle I was using was a two-piece until the session was over. The sections are locked together by one of those spring loaded buttons. They put the button low on the shaft which makes it very unlikely for you to accidentally push it. On the day I tried it out, I was gripping low and stroking hard to fight the wind gusts and I never even noticed the button was there. This is a credit to the design. One of the complaints I've heard about some other two-piece paddles is that the button is right in the grip area and it's easy to hit while surfing, which causes the paddle releases into two pieces. I think Werner did a great job in placing the button low and out of the way.

The blade of the Spanker has a foam core. What this does is make the paddle neutrally buoyant in the water. I thought the paddle felt light in the parking lot. When I got it in the water, it felt feather-light. The blade is 9.25" wide. I didn't know the blade with while I was using the paddle and I was thinking it was about 8.5". Maybe it was the blade shape or construction. The blade also had a spine down the blade to cut the water, stabilize the blade to minimize fluttering that can occur when you're paddling.

The forward padding power of the Spanker was strong and comfortable. For me, when I am hanging out outside the lineup or in the channel, I tend to back paddle quite a bit to stay in position. I also tend to back paddle once before forward paddling to turn the board around and catch a wave. The paddle didn't have as much bite on the back paddle as I personally would have liked. As I watched Dan surf, he didn't back paddle much himself. However, he had a powerful forward stroke and would turn the board around very quickly with 2 or 3 forward-side strokes.

In summary, for me, the Spanker is a strong and extremely lightweight paddle. Werner puts a lot of thought into what they're doing. The paddle isn't just something they're cranking out to feed the market. Dan had some prototypes with him that they are testing out to see if there's any way to improve the product which tells me their R&D is ongoing. The paddles are made in the USA for those who prefer a paddle made in the US. The new contoured handle that they will be releasing this year will be a nice option if you prefer that style. I don't know what else to say but that the Spanker is comfortable. While Dan and I were out in the water, we had the Spanker and another experimental paddle. We were trading paddles from time to time to compare them. I noticed with the experimental paddle, after 10 minutes, my right shoulder, back, and left knee were hurting. Then, when I got the Spanker back, the pain went away and my strokes were more relaxed and natural. It's a good, light paddle and a great choice if you're looking for two piece construction. For more information about the Spanker, go to Thanks again to Dan for letting us try out the Spanker.
feed1 Comments
Dont Stick Me
June 07, 2012

It's a bummer that the handle on this paddle has the tendency to shear off. Mine did and after light web search it seems I was not alone. According to some shop owners I've talked to, Werner doesn't warranty the piece and doesn't openly admit that there is a design flaw.

That said, it was a great paddle while it lasted.

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