Angle Oar: Kayaking for Every Body
Angle Oar: Kayaking for Every Body
Angle Oar opens up kayaking to people who didn’t think they had the strength or endurance due to injury, health status, age or ability.
Angle Oar opens up kayaking to people who didn’t think they had the strength or endurance due to injury, health status, age or ability. Read more
About this project
There’s nothing like being out on the water in a kayak, whether it’s to fish, enjoy the natural environment, or just have some alone time. But for many people, back problems, shoulder injuries and other physical limitations have meant having to give up – or worse yet – never even attempting to kayak. Angle Oar, our game-changing new kayak paddle, eliminates these barriers, opening up kayaking to people who didn’t think they had the necessary strength or endurance to paddle due to age or ability.
The creator of the Angle Oar, Jim Van Gompel, is a retired mechanical engineer who took up kayak fishing about a decade ago at age 75. Jim had always been a hardy outdoorsman, but a heart condition and severe asthma were taking their toll on his endurance. He got frustrated at how quickly he became short of breath trying to cross a lake or paddle against the wind. With dozens of other successful patents already under his belt, Jim knew he could design a more energy-efficient method for paddling, and that’s exactly what he did.
Jim’s daughter, Meg McCall, is a marketing executive who quickly saw the value of Jim’s design. A recreational kayaker herself, she loved how she could paddle for hours without breaking a sweat. She also saw how people with disabilities, older adults and even kids could benefit from the paddle, not to mention anglers and recreational kayakers. She and Jim decided to partner to bring Angle Oar to the public.
We often refer to the Angle Oar as being “weightless.” That’s because it is supported by a vertical post that secures to a base mount located on the floor of the kayak between the paddler’s legs. The post bears the weight of the paddle, which greatly reduces stress on the shoulders, elbows and wrists. In fact, it changes the basic bio-mechanics of paddling, drawing upon different muscles in the arms and eliminating virtually all of the shoulder and torso rotation that occurs when using a traditional paddle. The paddle itself angles down about 25 degrees on each side, so that all that’s required to propel the kayak is a simple rotary movement of the arms – much like pedaling a bike with your hands. This result is an extremely smooth, effortless glide through the water that takes very little physical effort.
One of the chief advantages of the Angle Oar is its versatility. Whether you have any physical limitations or not, there may be times when you’d like the option of using the paddle in the traditional manner. That’s why we've designed our paddle to be used in both “angled mode” or “straight mode.” You can continue to use it straight (180 degrees) in the mount, reducing strain, or pop it out of the mount and use it as you would a regular kayak paddle.
Here’s a snapshot of the rewards we’re offering. Everyone who contributes will get updates on the status of the campaign throughout and also be recognized on the Angle Oar website. In addition, shipping costs are already included for those of you who contribute to receive a specific item. Please see additional details by reading the descriptions in the margin.
Over the last two years, Jim and I (Meg) have invested a significant amount of our own personal financial resources to bring the Angle Oar this far, covering costs for the patent application, setting up the business entity, design and prototyping costs, and attending trade shows. Whenever there's been a choice between "cheap and easy" or "quality but expensive," we've erred on the side of quality - from our patent attorney to materials to design. It's not been easy watching our life's savings dwindle down, but we know in the long-run it will be worth it. To use a Texas Hold 'Em phrase: we're "all in" on this endeavor.
Our final hurdle is the actual manufacturing of the paddle. We have our injection mold designs ready to go, our manufacturers all lined up, and the blades that we’ll use on the paddle already ordered. We’re ready to get this train moving, but in order to do so, we need your help to cover some of the large manufacturing costs. Without a significant infusion of capital, we're at risk of losing our momentum and delaying manufacture further.
With your support of this campaign, you'll not only be on the leading edge of an entirely new way of kayaking, you'll be giving literally hundreds of thousands of people hope...hope that they, too, can actually participate in one of life's greatest pleasures. People with disabilities. Older adults. Wounded veterans. Kids. And so many others.
There is no other angled paddle on the market, and the early response we've received from kayak industry leaders, trade show consumers, the adaptive paddling community, our Facebook fans and retailers has been outstanding. The demand and enthusiasm for Angle Oar is there. We need your help to bring it all together.
The Angle Oar is really for anyone who’s more concerned with enjoying being on the water than expending a lot of energy, making it great for recreational paddlers and anglers. In fact, our biggest supporters come from the angling community because they see the value in having one hand free to paddle and the other cast or hold their rod. No more paddle leashes or fastening and unfastening a paddle just to move a few feet.
Note: The photos below of are of our prototypes. For the angled component, we have switched from machined aluminum parts to plastic injection molds. The shafts and blades will be made of fiberglass. Please be aware that the final manufactured paddle and mounting system may appear slightly different than these photos, though functionality will remain the same. If anything, the paddle will be more sleek!
Our molded plastic base mount rests on the floor of the kayak, between the paddler's legs. It measures roughly 12" long x 9" wide by 5" tall and is affixed with powerful suction cups that can be adjusted forward and back, as well as side to side. This functionality allows you to move the cups around uneven kayak surfaces, such as v-shaped hulls or raised ridges. It also creates better body ergonomics as you can choose the ideal distance between the paddle and your torso. The Angle Oar mounting post simply slips into a center tube and rests on the bottom of the kayak. If you have a mostly flat kayak bottom in your sit-in (some undulation is okay), or at least 5.5" wide x 8" long mostly flat area between your legs on your sit-on-top, then there's a good chance the Base Mount will work. If you're not sure it will fit your kayak, email the kayak brand and model to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll research it for you.
If you've got a shoulder or back injury, physical disability, or just want to paddle a significant distance without expending too much energy, then you'll want to use our paddle angled, in the mount. When you're ready to use it like a regular paddle, just pop it out of the support post.
Keeping track of your paddle when you're fishing is a hassle. It's either a balancing act or you're constantly fastening and unfastening the paddle to move your kayak even a little bit. With Angle Oar, all you do is let go of the paddle and you don't have to worry about it falling in the water. You can even hold the rod with one hand and use the other to paddle to a new location. Or paddle backwards with one hand to create a trolling motion. If you're an amputee, have a missing hand or have paralysis, you can still use Angle Oar.
You can also use the paddle in the mount, but in "straight" mode. You'll still get many of the energy-efficiency and stress-reducing benefits of the mount, but you'll have the effect of using a more traditional paddle stroke.
Off the Mount
There may be times when you want to use your kayak paddle like a traditional one. In fact, we found it's useful to use the paddle straight and off the mount when entering and exiting the water or shoreline. Once in open water, you can put it back in the mount or give yourself a more challenging workout. This versatility means you have an extra "traditional" paddle around when you want it, even if you don't use the mount at all.
Long or Short Shafts (or one of each)
Each shaft of the Angle Oar can be independently lengthened or shortened using a simple push button. So if you have a wider kayak, you may find that you want to lengthen the shafts. Changing the length also changes the angle of the blades as they enter the water. Another chief benefit? If it's a windy day, you can lengthen just one shaft and counteract the wind.
Disengage Shafts for Storage or Shallows
Because each shaft is adjustable, you can remove each from the central angled piece and store them all in your kayak or a small bag. You can also use this feature if you're in shallow waters and need to catapult the kayak through mud or weeds.
Risks and challenges
We've been fortunate not to have too many surprises so far, but the one thing we have learned is that the manufacturing process always takes about three times as long as we think it will. Therefore, while we feel pretty confident that we’ll have all the paddle components in hand by January, it’s possible the production timeline will take longer than we anticipate. Some of our materials are being shipped from overseas, and between customs and other unanticipated snafus, there is the possibility for delays. If we do end up having delays, we will send the paddles out as soon as we have them in our possession.
The only other obstacle we can anticipate is that we already know our mount system will fit most, but not all, sit-in kayaks. Every coaming, hull and cockpit shape is slightly different between kayaks, so it’s been nearly impossible to design a mount that fits them all. There may be some Kickstarter contributors who receive their paddle and mount only to find the mount doesn't work in their particular kayak. We will attempt to prevent this situation by answering contributors' questions during the campaign about which models will and will not work with the mountLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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