Stand up paddleboarding is the fastest growing water sport in the world, and for good reason: it’s accessible for anyone near any body of water and is conducive to all body sizes and fitness levels. Plus, it’s very addicting. If you’re making the plunge into purchasing a stand up paddleboarding setup, don’t forget the paddle!
SUP paddles are bent like a traditional outrigger canoe paddle with the bend going FORWARD in the water. A common beginning paddler mistake is pointing the face of the paddle in the wrong direction because he or she thinks the blade should come through the water in a scooping motion. Instead, the blade is designed this way so that you can finish through on your stroke and have the blade totally vertical while the shaft is pointed at an angle. This prevents backdrafts in the water so that you get the most efficient stroke possible.
The other pieces of the paddle anatomy are the handle and the shaft. The t-handle is meant to fit your palm comfortably so you can get a good grip and not tire your hands. When trying out paddles, make sure you get one that feels good as you grip it, whether it’s an oval, ball, or t-shaped.
There are two types of paddle options when buying a SUP paddle: adjustable and custom. Custom-cut paddles are ones that are permanently fixed at one length. If you’re a beginner in the stand up paddleboarding world, adjustable paddles are a great option because not only can you try out different lengths in the water and see what works for you, you can share it between paddles because size will depend on the paddler’s height.
Varying lengths have specific benefits. When racing, paddlers usually like a longer paddle for better reach and superior stroke technique. If it’s being utilized for surfing, a shorter paddle is superior for quick strokes and easy maneuverability in the water. You’ll also find starting out that you’ll adjust your paddle often to try and find the sweet spot as you figure out what feels best as you stroke.
There are two techniques when trying to find a good starting length for a paddle. While standing flat footed on even ground, hold your paddle in front of you. You can lift your hand above your head and onto the handle and your maximum reach (with the handle in your palm) should be where your paddle is adjusted. The other method is to make the “hang loose” sign with your hand and with your thumb on the top of your head and your pinky pointing upward, and have the paddle equal the extended height. Adjust accordingly.
Sunplay carries paddles from Dakine and Naish in all kinds of price ranges and experience levels, ranging from beginners to hardcore racers.