Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Select W1 Paddle Review Update

A couple of months ago I purchased a Select W1 paddle and put up a short review on the blog, being one of the first, if not the first people in Western Canada to get one of these paddles I thought I'd let people know how it was. The review was good, not much flex, big blades, nice grips that I preferred over Werner's bent shaft but since find I prefer the Adventure Technology grips...well that's where the fairy tale ended.

I try to be as unbiased as I can when I review gear, and if I am biased, I let you know I'm biased beforehand. I am not sponsored by anybody and have owned lots of different gear in the short time I've been boating. I believe I have a fair idea of what a warranty should be, what should be covered and when, and how a company should operate.

So here's the story that everyone considering the purchase of a Select paddle should be aware of and take what they will from it.

I was going down Cameron River for the first time out on Vancouver Island back in late May after the Puntledge Festival when my paddle broke off of a simple rock strike. It broke at the bend in the shaft, and at the time was about a month and a week old and had seen use on average 5-6 days a week on runs ranging from class II beginner runs to class IV low volume steep creeks and waterfalls. This is the bent carbon shaft, kevlar blade adjustable length/feather paddle.

Anyway, I C-1'd it into an eddy, we recovered the longer half that I had, but didn't find the other blade until after the warranty action, it now marks the takeout at the Cameron. We had to cut the long shaft to make it fit in my boat, we took pictures of the broken end, which did not end up making it to the shop in the end.

Select partially covered the warranty having received only a part of the paddle, which I have no problem with and makes sense.

What I have a problem with is as follows:

1. The main person from my local shop who deals with everything whitewater was on the river with me and witnessed the simple rock strike that broke the paddle firsthand, but the company did not take his word on this, believing it was chalked between 2 rocks when it broke.

2. I learned after the fact the paddle I purchased was their 4 layered river running paddle as opposed to their 5 layered creeking paddle. My dealer has told me there was never anything on the initial stocking order about different strength shafts, he has said the area company rep never knew about this fact either. Clearly I would have gone for the stronger paddle with the amount of creeking I do and intend to do in the future.

I have no reason not to believe my dealer, I have a good relationship with them and they have made it easier for me to get into whitewater kayaking that it would have been otherwise. The dealer also has a great reputation warranty wise with other paddle companies it deals with such as AT and Werner. It shocks me that a new paddle company would allow an oversight such as this to sour their relationship with potential clients.

It is also truly unfortunate since I really did like the advantages of the paddle and would otherwise recommend one and probably would have bought a '5 layered creeking shaft' version had its existence been known to me, the dealer or the area rep. Unfortunately I now feel let down by Select. I have since replaced my Select paddle with an AT Eddy and in the past have also had a few Werner paddles. I have never had a problem with AT or Werner and consider them reputable companies that make good paddles.

Just some food for thought to consider if you're thinking about spending your hard earned money on a Select paddle.

Here's a video Ryan Bayes of Fraser Valley Whitewater did of a later Cameron River paddle:

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