In all the excitement and possible confusion you may feel in the buying of your first SUP board, it’s not uncommon to put the paddle on the bottom of your list – or at least it’s secondary to the buying process. Sometimes this is not helped by your retailer who may also be putting little importance on the paddle, putting all their efforts and focus upon the board they are eagerly wanting to sell you.
The hard truth is, the paddle is the tool that you will use to propel and control the board you stand upon and so it makes sense that it should be the best you can afford and must form a part of your budget, not as a secondary consideration, but in equal measure, if not more so than importance of the board. A heavy, clumsy paddle will limit your paddling enjoyment, slow the learning curve, increase the chances of injury and very possibly put you off the sport, not turn you on. Retailers who offer to include a paddle ‘for free’ – be cautious, as the paddle offered will doubtless be ‘terrible’ and they are not in fact doing you a favour, merely trying their hardest to sell you the board and maximise your investment in it, while supplying you with a very sub-standard means of propelling it.
Free roof rack straps, free rash vest, gloves, knee-leash are all good freebies – but a ‘free’ and ‘inclusive’ paddle, the alarm bells need to sound-off, being as this free paddle, will more than likely make your padding experience very much less than it could be and should be. We at Mistral have always maintained a policy of avoiding the very cheapest options. We would not be doing you a favour by offering you super low quality, sub-standard, heavy paddles, as this would acknowledge we put no importance on this most important component. It’s a tough balancing act and we are aware that we all need to budget sensibly, which is why we have for example our Kanoa entry level paddle and the Tamarii for children, which represent well designed and constructed paddles, within tolerable limits of weight for the first time paddler.
If you have been paddling for a few years with an old, heavy paddle, it’s certainly time to upgrade to a carbon or carbon composite paddle of lighter and superior construction. This alone can be a better move than upgrading your board if you are seeking going faster, further and increasing your water time and enjoyment. When it comes to buying higher performance paddles, just as there is not enough emphasis on the importance of a good paddle at the early phases of learning, there’s a lot of hype spoken of high end paddles. The hype has slowed down lately in relation to SUP paddles, being as the reality remains, the basics of good blade shape, shaft flex and performance have remained true of paddlesports for many years and attempting to reinvent the concept has not advanced much in the past 25 years.
We don’t try to over complicate the designs of our high end paddles – we keep it simple in the knowledge that they are highly efficient and have been used to win major events around the world, including many overall wins of the 11 Cities event in Holland.