I asked Todd Bradley from C4 Waterman to let me film him talking about the stand up paddle to share the fundamental information with everyone. I got a lot out of his explanations and hope it can help others.
Click here for the stand up paddle video part 1:
The Stand Up Paddle Explained in Detail by Todd Bradley of C4 Waterman
Todd Bradley: We’re talking about paddles?
Evan Leong: Yeah, paddles. How do you use the new ones then?
Todd Bradley: These are some of the new… I mean this is the new C4 design. It has the dihedral in it. It’s really important that the dihedral is in there. There’s a lot of…
Evan Leong: You mean that ridge thing, right?
Todd Bradley: Yes, we call this a dihedral. And the paddle is really a tool, it’s no different than picking the right fin for your board, or the right kite for your kite board. It’s really another tool in the box and a lot of people just think that what we’re going to do is just grab any paddle. Well, you know, if you get the right tool in the chest that makes the job a lot easier. So what we’ve done is we’ve designed a blade that is unlike any others out there. What you’re looking for is you’re looking for a blade – because you’re fulcrum point is so much higher on a blade, than on a shaft, than an outrigger paddle, and of course with all my experience in outrigger paddling, you’re holding right next to the blade. So you’re control over the blade through the water is much easier. But now you take and you turn that fulcrum point to 48 inches away, you don’t have much control over what that blade is doing and it’s real easy to let it wander, and that’s where the rail-banging comes in. It’s really prevalent in beginners and a lot of it has to do with getting inexpensive paddles. So what you want to do is – the way this paddle works, it actually access a keel through the water, a patented keel that actually helps steer the blade straight through the water and makes it run through the water efficiently. There’s a lot of curves going on in these things and these weren’t just put in here for the heck of it. I mean there’s a lot of time and a lot of design that Brian, Dave and I worked on with these paddles.
Evan Leong: This one is fiberglass, right?
Todd Bradley: This one is all fiberglass. But it’s the same as the all-carbons.
Evan Leong: What’s the difference between fiberglass and carbon then?
Todd Bradley: Just weight.
Evan Leong: Oh yeah?
Todd Bradley: Just weight.
Evan Leong: Are they the same strength?
Todd Bradley: They’re pretty much the same strength – it’s just a weight issue, and expense issue. I’m really happy with this new fiberglass paddle – it’s really beautiful; the shape is very efficient. The other thing is we have an elliptical top to it. As you know when you’re surfing, a lot of people drag the paddle for making your turns and that’s how we initiate our turn. Again, this is a really important tool to use – not only for catching the waves but also for surfing the wave. So by having an elliptical top on it, it helps the blade skim across the water when you’re using it like ski pole to make your turns. So that’s a really important thing. The other thing that we’ve done is we’ve gotten rid of the hook in the end. What happens with the hook is when you start dragging…
Evan Leong: You mean the scoop thing? Like the scoop?
Todd Bradley: It works great and it gets you a nice catch but when you starting to use this paddle as a tool to drag it through the water, those are little things that can catch on the water and hook the paddle over. Again, it’s all about efficiency; it’s all about the tool. This is the tool that is made for stand up paddling. This is the paddle that has been time and thought has been put in there for this sport.
Evan Leong: What’s up with the wood shaft…?
Todd Bradley: This is a hybrid. This is a hybrid paddle that we make. It either comes in fiberglass or carbon blade with a hybrid wood shaft. It’s really effective. We didn’t really design this for the really big guys. But it’s more for the guys that want that aesthetic feel of wood. You can’t really hammer on these as hard as you would on the carbons. The wood is just not as forgiving. The other thing is too that you can make wood shafts or there are wood paddles that come out that are plenty strong but you end up with such a big strong heavy shaft that it kind of defeats the purpose. At the end of the day, I look at – the carbon is great. The carbon is wonderful, and the wood is great but we stopped rubbing sticks together to make fire a long time ago too. I really believe you want to get the best stuff – lightest weight, best materials out there for the tool that you’re trying to do.
Evan Leong: So that would be carbon then?
Todd Bradley: Carbon…all carbon.
Evan Leong: So what’s the difference in diameter? Because remember I was on that 9-inch diameter one then 8-and-a-half inch ones are easier?
Todd Bradley: There’s different schools on the diameter of a paddle. This is 8 ½, there’s 9s, 9 ½s. There’s a lot of different ones. But what happens is, because it’s all about efficiency through the water it’s not about how much power you can pull, it’s how efficient you can be through the water. This blade design is very efficient. It may be small but it efficiently pushes the water down to lift the board up. And what you’re trying to do is – the board is a plain in surface. So it’s almost like you’re trying to spin a ball on your hand. Once you get it up plaining, you want to just lip the water and tap to keep the board plaining. The minute you use a big blade, what I find is if you’re not strong enough to pull a big blade, you end up throwing your body into the power to move forward. And when you throw your body into it like that, what do you do? You compress the hull, you compress the board, which is going to compress the rocker and slow you down. So the key is to have the right size blade, women especially. It’s really important if you’re not strong enough to pull a certain size blade, it’s important that you keep it light and on the top because if you start compressing it, you’re gong to slow the board down. What you’re trying to do is have it plain across the water and that happens by keeping your body stable. So remember, if you get a big blade you got to be able to pull a whole blade through the water. A lot of times I see these people buy these big, long, giant blades because they think it’s going to make them faster or anything. And if you look at it, they’re only putting this much of the blade in the water. That doesn’t do anything. You have a whole another half of the blade. So again, you’re being inefficient. The other thing that’s important is, remember, you want to get the power down deep as you possibly can. The first five inches under the water does not carry any power as much as it is under that five inches. So there, you design a blade that has a steering mechanism on the first five inches to steer it straight but you get all your power down low where the good water is. Think of a powerboat; you don’t see powerboats with their blades half out of the water. They’re all the way depth under water. They have to be certain depth under the water. Same holds true with the paddle. Blade size is super important. It’s all about efficiency. Don’t be buying these big giant blades and only put them that much in the water. You’re not doing yourself any justice.
Evan Leong: So you always want the whole blade in the water?
Todd Bradley: You want to have the whole blade in the water.
Evan Leong: At all times? So even if you’re just kind of cruising or paddling back out or whatever?
Todd Bradley: Well then… I mean you can put half the blade in the water. But again, if you’re looking for the most efficient stroke, it happens right here, full blade in the water. So if you’re pushing too big of a blade then you’re having to push through hard and you’re not efficient. Because what happens, if the water level is here and you’re pulling through the water, all you’re doing is causing cavitation in front of the blade here and it’s not efficient. It’s kind of like paddling in white water or driving your car in a muddy day. It’s just not getting bite. Again it’s about getting good efficient bite in the water, because the blade is, you’re going in, and pretty much what you’re doing is you’re pulling yourself passed the blade. Think about a car and a tire. The tire doesn’t spin and the car just keeps going. The wheel needs to bite, hit the ground and turn and the car rolls by the wheel. The same is true with the paddle. It gets in the water and you’re actually, the paddle if you think about it as being stationery in cement and you’re actually pulling yourself by the paddle. So again, it’s about efficiency in the water with your blade and not just scratching the surface.
The stand up paddle explained in detail by Todd Bradley from C4 Waterman Part 1 [8:10m]: Download