Small blades allow for the high stroke rate and fast acceleration necessary to catch waves. When your set comes in, you need to get up to speed quickly from a standstill. Small blades excel at this. They’re also easier to maneuver than larger blades.
We recommend the Methane for most men, the Pipes for most women, and the Shaka Pu’u for surfers who have a lot of upper body strength.
Factors to consider include the length of the race, strength of the athlete, water conditions, and type of board.
With a large blade, less slip occurs with each stroke, which means more efficient transfer of energy. The tradeoff of a bigger blade is a faster rate of fatigue. So you might choose a larger blade for short, sprint races and a smaller blade for longer, distance races. If you have a lot of upper body strength, maybe you can handle a big blade even for long races. Strong, fit paddlers generate higher hull speeds and can use larger blades.
Race boards are faster than surf and all-around boards. This allows for a larger blade size. If you’re a recreational racer who hasn’t invested in a race board, you won’t want to go as big with your blade.
Water conditions are another consideration. Boards move faster when they’re flat on the water than when they’re bouncing up and down in the waves.
For most racers, the Methane is a great choice. For fit, experienced paddlers, the Shaka Pu’u is excellent. For an aggressive downwind racer who is able to link swell after swell and prefers a larger blade, the Nalu is awesome.
If your goals are recreation and fitness, choose your paddle according to your physical strength, type of board, and water conditions. In the past, most recreational paddlers have used surf/all-around boards. However, many recreational paddlers who primarily paddle in flat water are now choosing race or touring boards.
If you fall into the first category, go for a small blade like the Pipes for women or the Methane for men. If you fall into the second category, larger blades might work best, like the Methane for women, or the Shaka Pu’u or Nalu for men.
We find women love the Pipes in all conditions.
ONE DO-IT-ALL PADDLE
If you’re looking for one paddle to share with other members of the family, or one paddle for both flat water and surf, an adjustable paddle is a great choice.
The Kialoa Hinalea is light, durable, affordable, nice-looking, and has 19 inches of adjustability.
RRD also makes a range of adjustable paddles, that very well-priced, nice-looking, and offer great performance for the price. Some of them even come with paddle bags.
For those who find the adjustability knob gets in the way, RRD’s Aluminum/Fiberglass Adjustable Paddle is a great option.
Here are some helpful links to further your investigation.
Paddles come in a wide price range. You’ll find that you get what you pay for in terms of weight, strength, durability, and design features. All of these things make a huge difference.
However, you can rest assured that even our lower price-point models are good quality paddles that will last, perform excellently for the price, and look nice too. They’re just heavier and don’t have as many design features as the higher-end paddles.
The Hinalea has that same soulful quality as its higher-end cousins at a lower price-point. The RRD paddles are also very thoughtfully designed, solidly constructed and, most importantly, well priced.