The Werner bent-shaft paddles have been great for us since they were introduced. The carbon shafts seem next to indestructible and the blades last a long time usually wearing down to a smaller size over long periods of use.
Blades: These blades are thicker than most due to a foam core that adds buoyancy and strength through the beam effect it provides. One of the smoothest paddles I have ever used, the DD blades are the same shape as the Werner Player blades and very similar to AT’s play design. With more volume distributed toward the end of the blade, it gives a lot of initial bite in the water on a forward stroke, and provides a stable platform for doing tricks that require some leverage. The foam core gives this paddle a lively rebound in the water…very nice for draw strokes etc… So far I have beat the crap out of these carbon/Kevlar blades and haven’t been able to puncture them or crack them, lots of scratches that are superficial. The DD blade has a dynel/rope edge that sticks ¼ of a cm out from the carbon itself to protect the blades from wear and tear; this edging is inset about another ½ of a cm into the blade for strength and long-term abuse. I haven’t even come close to wearing through to the carbon yet. I must also add that these blades have no dihedral, they are dead flat on the power face, I feel that having one power face surface in the water makes for a smoother forward stroke (Most slalom paddlers use flat blades). The non-power face has a funky wing/spine thing going on which some people debate takes away from the power of the backstroke, I have never personally found it to be an issue.
Shaft: Made from carbon as well, this shaft is as light and strong as any I have ever used. The grips are ovalized to fit the inside of your handgrip properly. The grip spacing varies with the overall paddle length to accommodate all sizes of paddlers. The bends seem almost perfectly ergonomic and have saved my wrists and elbows a lot strain over the past year. This is the sane shaft used on the Player and Freestyle bent-shaft paddles made by Werner, this year they are also offering a small bent-haft option which is awesome for small handed boaters. This shaft is very stiff with little or no flex…as a result it provides a tremendous amount of direct energy transfer from your muscles to the blades, meaning you get exactly what you put into your pulls on the water. This super stiff design can be hard on aging joints or folks with repetitive strain injuries, a little flex can help in those situations.
Overall: I absolutely love this paddle and wouldn’t trade it for anything. The sleek powerful blade design not only works well, but also looks even better. Just what you would expect from a company that has been making high-end whitewater and touring blades for over 20 years. Well worth the money, if you paddle mostly in deep rivers and are kind to your blades you can expect a long relationship with one of the Double Diamonds. I think that it is a slightly more fragile design than the solid glass blades more commonly used, as you can puncture the blades and have them fill up with water. That being said, I have broken almost every paddle that I have ever owned, and this one is still kicking.
Cheers, Jeff (Boatwerks)