Tropical Blends Surf Stand Up Paddles Video – Part 1

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Tropical Blends Stand Up Paddles

Tropical Blends Surf has taken on the experimental process of finding new, more efficient paddle designs that also suits stand up paddle surfing best. We get to hear about the qualities of these paddles that veer away from the “traditional” bent-blade stand up paddles.

I find the new straight-blade design logical, as I hear how it is explained on the video, but let’s see how the general public accepts this new paddle design. I guess it’s all part of the growth and development of stand up paddle surfing.

Watch the video and gather a whole different perspective on paddle design and dynamics.


(click thumbnail to launch video)

Man 1: What’s the difference between the straight blade and the canoe old-style to handle the new bent-blade paddles?

Tropical Blends: That’s a really good question. I have my own theories on, plus based on some research, on how this was originally coming to be and what the purposes of it are. And in actuality, what we did when we started the stand up process was we just basically had canoe paddles in existence so why not just put a long handle on it and now we got a stand up paddle. But after discussing this with quite a few people, the concept of this – the whole theory behind this design was actually designed for a multi-manned canoe and was designed to be used in a sitting position.

Tropical Blends: So when you think about it, when you got a multi-manned canoe, a six-manned canoe and everybody started to lean forward with their stroke, then what you’re going to get is some tipping, some nosing with the canoe, right? So what this paddle did actually, when you look at that stroke, as you take the beginning of your stroke, you’re actually lifting the nose of the canoe up. So as you come through your stroke, you’re actually maximizing the pull, the efficiency of the paddle through the limited area that you have in a six-manned canoe, right? So that was the concept behind this.

Tropical Blends: Now let’s step off out of the canoe. Oh, I forgot to mention that most of the time, the canoe is relatively parallel to the water, right? Now, think about this for a second. Now you stand up on a stand up board and you’re paddling over here, your paddling over here, maybe you’re going to catch yourself over here, you’re paddling out here, you’re steering from here, right? And none of those things are utilizing the efficiency; none of them are matching the design of the intended use of this paddle. So that got me to thinking about, why aren’t we using something straight? Honestly, the thing that got started this thought process was Tony Monis.

Tropical Blends: Tony Monis, I see him out there with a 14-dollar, aluminum handled with plastic edges, kayak paddle, right? And he’s broken the tip – this end is gone, so all he has is an aluminum shaft and a little plastic head, right? And it looks more like an oar than it look like a…and he is out there catching everything. So I’m looking at that going, “That looks interesting.” And I have to back up for a second and say one more thing, if you’re thinking about first starting on this kind of stand up board, right? The first thing you notice is everything is focused on the board, because you don’t really know about using the paddle yet, you don’t really know a lot about what you’re doing, you’re just trying to stay on the board. So the board is the big focal point. As you start progressing a little, especially from a surfing perspective, you start to find yourself in some really precarious different positions on the water. And again, unlike the canoe, I’m never exactly level with the water when I’m making my stroke. My surfboard might be up like this when I’m reaching for my stroke.

Tropical Blends: So what I found with these paddles that have all the area in one end – at least this is my personal experience – was that I did enough kind of precarious position. I’d go to stroke to get that last couple of strokes to get in to the wave and that has so much area. It literally felt like it was pulling me off the board because I’m not locked in in any way – nothing is holding on, right? I only have my feet. So I found that having all that area in one focused place worked in a disadvantage to me, not an advantage. So that got me to thinking about this and then I go on the phone with these people and I started talking about, asking about the history. Again, they have been making paddles since 1876. as I got in to discussion with them, we went more and more in to the, why haven’t we stretched the blade out a little bit, so I an choose – do I want to have a little bit of power or do I want to have a lot of power?

Tropical Blends: These three were the first experimental ones and I have since ordered them with a larger shaft, a slightly different paddle head. We’re actually going to reduce the size of this blade even another quarter inch all the way around so we got an even more fine tune. One more thing about this, it’s kind of long winded but I have a guy who comes in the shop here who is literally the director of hydrology at the Pearl Harbor Navy Base, so he’s literally a rocket scientist, if you will, for water, right? And he and I have been working on this, another project that he and I have been talking about. He is explaining to me the formula for work. When you paddle this it has to translate in to work and there’s an efficiency, a point where the paddle is actually as efficient as you can get it with what you have as the motor. I’m the motor, right? One human power. We’re trying to fine-tune the blade now so that I’m going to get the maximum amount of work for this paddle for what I have the ability to extract from this paddle. It makes a lot of sense. So anyway, I’m actually pretty sold. We got a few of these out in the water now and we’ll just see what happens.

icon for podpress  Tropical Blends Surf Stand Up Paddles - Part 1 [5:56m]: Download
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6 Responses to “Tropical Blends Surf Stand Up Paddles Video – Part 1”


  1. Bob 1Bob

    Interesting. I’m building a few paddles as I type (waiting for the glue to dry) I’m building one of them that is straight with a long blade just like these. Definitely easier to build. It’ll be interesting to see how it performs.

    One thing that the bend does though is to have the blade parallel to your legs when you exit the water with your stroke. Much like his comment about lifting the bow of the canoe at the beginning of the stroke a straight shaft will have you shoveling water to the rear and sink the tail. I’m just not sure if it would add power to the stroke or throw off balance. We’ll see soon. I’m sure some folks will prefer them anyway.

    Different strokes for different folks….bad pun intended.

  2. Evan Leong 2evan

    Your paddles are looking nice. I saw the first one with the Jimmy logo. Are you coming out to Hawaii for Bill’s Feb 2008 demo day?

    I’ve tried different paddles and they seem to be like shoes. Everyone has their own preference. I’m getting the Infinity Surf otter paddles in the next week so I’ll post my thoughts on those also. I like a longer paddle with a bigger blade for downwinders and especially when the board is fast like the C4 Waterman Vortice. I think I may like a smaller diameter blade with a shorter board because it won’t bite as hard initially and should be easier to keep balance.

    I tried the paddle that Jim showed in the video. I thought it was pretty good and had an interesting flex. The paddle I tried was too short for me though. I had to bend over a lot to get the full blade in the water.

    I like the Leleo wooden paddles too. The weight seems to make the paddle generate more power. The issue I have with the wood paddle is that the stiffer they are the more torque is taken into my shoulders. I was getting some rotator cuff issues w/ the Leleo paddle even though I really like the way it paddles.

  3. linter 3linter

    what i want to know is, what might be the best paddle or paddle size not for a big powerful guy but for a skinny scrawny guy … like me. if a wide blade is best for a big guy, does it hold true that a skinny is better for the opposite guy? and what about the overall look of the face? maybe the infinity shape? just a few questions in search of a few answers.
    great blog, btw. keep it up!

  4. harris 4harris

    Evan did you notice any cavitation with the paddle? I notice when I’m not completely submerging my paddle that I get cavitation. I’m not sure if that is an effect of not being deep enough, or the wide part of the paddle being out at the surface.

    Agree with bob that with a straight shaft you either release earlier or you’ll be pulling the board down once your paddle is past perpendicular with the water.

    I don’t think a wide blade is working for anyone. With the long shaft of the stand up blade you’re feeling too much pressure. My guess is that blades will be getting less surface as this sport progresses.

  5. Teene 5Teene

    Paddle Design History 201
    In the 50’s thru the early seventies the long and hard Hawaiian style stroke dominated the Molokai channel race… the stroke we trained with was… reach out as far as you could and pull back as far as you could and as hard as you could… it was very beautiful stroke when everyone was in sync… then in the late 70’s and early 80’s the Tahitians came to the Molokai race with high spm (strokes per minute) and they smaller paddle blades… one necessitated the other…It would be difficult to maintain the spm with the big classic Hawaiian paddle blade… we actually called that style of paddling a chopped stroke and it was not what we wanted the paddlers to do back then… so a high spm and reduced area in the paddle blade was what the Tahitians brought to Hawaii… I agree with as the sport progresses the blades will have less surface area… Some times I like some flex and sometimes not… I noticed that when I go and hit golf balls at the driving range the stiffer steel drivers would radiate the shock into my elbows and shoulders… the more flexible carbon fiber driver shafts kind of cushioned the shock… interesting… Aloha and Mahalo

  6. Evan Leong 6evan

    I personally don’t like the wide blades. I had that discussion with Todd B from C4 when I wanted the biggest blade possible so I could move faster. He told me to go smaller instead and I’ve never gone back. The difference in speed I could generate from an 8.5″ blade vs 9″ blade was night and day. Most people I talk to w/ C4’s have the 8.5″ blade now.

    I normally use the 8.5″ blade but for the last 2 days I’ve been trying the Infinity Surf otter paddle in the 6.5″ and 7″ blades. http://www.infinitysurfboard.com/stand-up-paddle/ I really like these blades as they don’t bite too hard initially in the stroke and don’t hurt my shoulders.

    I’m waiting for Jim’s version 2 wood paddles to test because I think they will be good.

    I agree with Teene on the high spm but I still consider myself a novice…a passionate and addicted novice.

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