Tropical Blends Surf Stand Up Paddles Video – Part 2

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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 it being explained, but let’s see how the general public sees 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)

Evan Leong: How about these other wooden paddles? And what’s the difference between these blades right here? The dark-brown one that you have because they look like a different diameter, right?

Tropical Blends: Yes, this has got a little more teardrop to it and again these four, there actually were four, I have three here now. One of them is in the water but these four different blades were all pat of the experimental process for us to understand what it is we’re actually going to need or what would actually work. I’m just going to pull the Shawn Tenny around. So as we pull these things together, I asked him to get me a variety of materials, four different types of materials and four different blade shapes, and again it’s all part of the research and development process. Obviously, this one is too big. It is definitely too big. I put it in the water. It might be really good for down the coast – something that I can fool around when I don’t really want to paddle too hard. There’s trade winds behind me, I just sort of steer with this. But I flipped this one, and I’ve used this one myself several times now and I actually find that the handle has changed things a little bit too in a way I see – it hasn’t got a T-grip if you noticed. Basically, what I end up doing is plumbing this, is pushing it forward, which I never realized before that I needed to be doing or would make my stroke more efficient because this is contrary to canoe paddling. From what I understand you don’t push forward with a canoe paddle. At first I was a little concerned about the handles, now that I have been riding it, I really like the fact that the grip is different than what I have been previously been accustomed to; gives me another dimension in my paddling. That was the different between these blades. If you look at them you see one is a little more of a teardrop, one is a little more elongated and then this one is just a lot lager in area. So basically, we decided that we’re going to try these two again and cut them a little bit more and see where we end up with it from that point; bigger shaft, we need a little more grip, a little more area when your hands are bigger than this. And I asked if to go with this grip on this paddle as opposed to this. This is a walnut. This is cherry wood. This is ash wood. I’m told that these two are about the same density and durability you get about the same amount of them. It seems like the walnut is a little heavier. There is definitely some weight to these paddles. They’re not as light as some of the carbon and other materials. But I also find –- if you hold on to that for one second – I also find that there’s some advantages to the flexibility that’s in it. Look at the bend on this paddle. So what I found for myself, being not as young a guy as I used to be, that paddling with this type of paddle, paddling with this carbon type of paddle has very little forgiveness. It seems that the energy that I’m putting on to the paddle is transferred right to my shoulders, elbows, and joints. You see these paddles have nearly the flexibility to it. So I just found, as a slightly older guy, that the wood serves, it does a better job on my joints and my elbows. I’m sure the young people don’t care at all. But as I get on, I just find that this is a little bit more forgiving on my – I think the wood absorbs some of the shocks. And not to mention, they are just beautiful.

Tropical Blends: And these are actually interesting now. I’ve talked with La Leo, the manufacturer, the maker of this, these are just absolutely gorgeous hand-made, laid up – the different blade designs are very efficient. Again, I’m not all that sold on all the bend but that’s just my opinion.

Man 3: They are works of art.

Tropical Blends: They are works of art, no doubt about it. Even these guys, they take a lot of pride. I mean that’s one piece of wood.

Man 3: Oh yeah, beautiful. And it kind of reminds you of a baseball bat.

Tropical Blends: It does, yeah? It reminds you of a baseball bat. I thought the same thing. And he suggest that we stick with these two woods on the outside just simply because of the durability. He says that the ash, you get more tensile strength out of the cherry and the walnut. I’m at that point where I just trust – he’s a third-generation paddle maker. I just go, “Whatever you say sounds alright to me.” He said he would hand-pick the pieces for us going forward that would have a little bit more of the sapwood in it, which is the grayer color. And he says, you’ll lighten it up a little bit, weight-wise, but also you get really good contrast through the wood. I was just pleased that he was interested enough to say, “I’ll handpick some wood for you.”

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4 Responses to “Tropical Blends Surf Stand Up Paddles Video – Part 2”


  1. Bob 1Bob

    Hi Evan,

    I’ve seen the Shaw & Tenney canoe paddles. Old time Maine paddle builders. It will be interesting to see how they translate to SUP. Nicely made from a single piece of bandsawn wood and then shaped on a big drum sander.

    They have a nice selection of woods to choose from but I have a feeling the weight may be an issue. Sitting in a canoe and paddling a relatively short paddle is a lot different than SUP. Those handles definitely need work too. It is a function of what they use to shape it, the big drum sander. Again fine and traditional for a canoe but not sure it works for SUP

    Big difference in the leverage applied in a long shaft too especially when stroking for a wave. I think laminations are a big help there both for strength and safety. Someone is bound to break one eventually and given how they will break along that long grain (think broken baseball bat) you could have a very dangerous point in your hands at just the wrong moment.

    Strangely enough though one of the paddles I’m currently building will be much like these. I have an atypical reason for it though.

    Speaking of paddles… how about a posting for the SUP “art” paddle I’ll be auctioning off as part of a charity event for save the children. You can see the particulars at Ponohouse and on Standup zone but I’d like to get the word out as much as possible.

  2. Bob 2Bob

    I meant to ask how these are priced. They can pump out paddles pretty quickly using their process and these shouldn’t be priced much differently than their other paddles. A slight rise for the extra length obviously. Maybe 15-20% ? Just wondering if the premium that seems to be attached to anything SUP applies here as well.

  3. CB1 3CB1

    Great paddle vid’s! Thank you for all the hard work on your blog!!! I’m digging the wood paddles! IMHO , if the Tropical Blend paddles (with no bend) takes hold, it will make things interesting. Maybe by getting more players involved. Maybe canoe paddle manufactures?

    Bob has a good point about pricing. I was at REI and thought I would just look at their canoe paddles while I was in the store. They had some decent paddles for ~$110. I was thinking, geeze, add another 30″ to the shaft and you have something to what Tropical Blends is showing! Defintely seem to be paying a premium for SUP. I know it goes with the territory, so I’m just making an observation, not complaining.

    Regarding the palm handle, looks good, but to sell to the masses, I think you need a handle system so that you can cut the paddle to the correct length for your height. But for those that want custom, go for it!

  4. Evan Leong 4evan

    Hi guys – Just got in from a session at Waikiki. The waves were super small but the conditions were really nice. I saw an 85 year old lady doing stand up today. That was a trip and my brother shot some low res pics.

    Bob – I tried Jim’s prototype paddle for a short period a month or so ago and it had a lot of flex. The shaft was really narrow and it was about 4″ too short for me so I can’t give it a fair judgment because it wasn’t the right length for my height.

    The feel was totally different although I do like the ‘non bite’ feeling during the initial part of the paddle stroke. The initial acceleration was fine to me and I think I need a full session to get a better feel for it.

    The handle part is a bit weird at first but didn’t bother me too much. I think he’s got version 2 paddles coming in soon. I’m not sure on the price but I’ll ask.

    We’ll add up your paddle for auction on Tuesday. We’re always up to help spread the charitable word.

    CB1 – I really like the wood feel also because of the swing weight and way it feels in the water. There’s a double edged issue w/ the wood shafts that have very little flex. They are good in that they paddle fast but they are hard on my shoulders.

    I think the paddle has to be made custom for the rider or by coincidence it matches your height. That’s the same issue w/ the custom handle Leleo paddles. If you don’t get the exact height, you can’t cut it shorter.

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