HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR CARBON PADDLE
Carbon paddles are beautiful, high performing bits of kit, and definitely
worth investing serious £’s in. When riding, your paddle is an extension of your body, and people become rather attached to a good paddle. So here are some #SUPhacks to help keep your paddle in one piece and have a very happy life together
BEFORE YOU PADDLE
If you’ve got an adjustable paddle, always check the screws for tightness before you get onto the water. They need to be just tight enough to stop the shaft from rotating. Too loose, and the blade can rotate as you paddle. Which is annoying. Too tight and you might damage the clasp or even crack the carbon handle. Good paddles are designed very carefully so that the clasp would break first. However, if the carbon paddle is poorly made or designed, the shaft might crack first. And that’s a problem that can’t be fixed.
DURING YOUR PADDLE
IT’S NOT A GONDOLA POLE Simple enough, but push off sand or a solid object and you risk creasing the blade. Your paddle is made for paddling in water, nothing else. And the lower quality your blade, the greater the risk of this happening.
CARBON IS FICKLE. Just like any high performance kit, carbon paddles are a compromise. A fine balance between hardiness, strength and weight. Carbon is a pretty fickle material. It has great strength in one plane, but is brittle in the other plane. Therefore a sharp knock in the wrong place can cause a hidden weakness.
So even the very best carbon paddles can snap. By their very nature, mixing a light, strong carbon paddle with mother nature’s most powerful force, can have its risks. To make a paddle ‘unbreakable’ would mean that it would be so stiff and heavy, it would be very unpleasant to use. Buy a good paddle and the risks are significantly lower. But just like a high performance surfboard, there are forces that will break or damage any paddle.
AFTER YOUR PADDLE
I know, you’ve just had an exhilarating paddle, you’re a combination of buzzed and tired. The endorphins are kicking in (see our post on tier two fun), and the last thing on your mind is checking your kit. But that’s absolutely what you should be doing.
CHECK IT. If you’ve had a tumble and knocked your paddle on a reef or the board, give it a good stress test when you’re out of the water. Much better for it to fail then than when you’re next on the water. It’s no fun being up the creek without a paddle! Also it’s worth checking that that the screws are still tight and won’t fall out in transport
WASH YOUR PADDLE AFTER USE. This is particularly important for adjustable paddles. Sand and grit in the clasps can damage the male end of the shaft (the bit you stick in), and this can create weaknesses that deteriorate over time. At worst this can cause the shaft to fail, and best it can make it very difficult to get the shaft sections apart or put them back together again. Although this is less of an issue with carbon fibre or fibre glass shafts than aluminium or alloy shafts, it is always worth washing your paddle once you’ve finished.
PROTECT IT Most damage is caused during transport, so make sure your paddle comes with a high quality bag with sufficient padding to protect it from bangs and knocks in the car / van.
DONT COOK IT Did you know you can overheat a carbon paddle?
– Avoid constant exposure to direct heat (eg in a hot car in baking sun) and you will get a long life out of your paddle.
– Keep your paddle in a quality bag with heat protection
We would say this, wouldn’t we? But make sure you buy from a brand who knows about these risks and has designed them out as much as possible. Like McConks.
You can get your hands on one of our carbon bamboo SUP paddles for only £150. And that comes with a free protective heat shield bag.