It wouldn’t have been as easy to kayak 900km without a carbon-fiber, foam-core paddle, that’s for sure! I have yet to come across paddles that move so well through the water, and are so nicely balanced. I initially had trouble deciding between the Athena and a larger blade, low-angle paddle, but I am really glad I chose the Athena. The smaller paddle surface made it so I ended up using the Athena much more frequently than my larger bladed, high-angle paddle (although I prefer a high-angle stroke). Since I have a shoulder injury, the smaller blade aided immensely in reducing the stress on my shoulder. Carbon is still pretty tough stuff; not overly careful but not overly careless either, the paddle barely looks worse for the wear.