Steve Boehne talks to us about the Infinity Surf’s ottertail blade stand up paddle. Steve explains that these type of blades are easier to use than the regular square-shaped blades and does not compromise power — something that is ideal for older folks who may be experiencing chronic body aches and pains.
The paddle shaft is laminated into the blade so that it cannot break apart or leak.
The blade is only angled 2 degrees back, which offers more power at the beginning of your stroke instead of at the end.
Steve says that square bladed paddles usually have a slight side to side wabble during the stroke caused by the water wrapping around the wide blade tips. The ottertail paddle has absolutely no wabble.
You can adjust the power of your stroke more dramatically with an ottertail because of its long, narrow design by decreasing the depth of your stroke.
Evan: I see the paddle your paddle has this ottertail shape design versus the regular outrigger canoe kind of blade.
Steve Boehne: Yes, I started out with a big square blade, but I’m over 50 years old so my tendons are a little more sensitive. When I was using the big paddle I was starting to get tendonitis. This smaller blade puts much less strain on my arms and I can paddle faster.
Evan: Oh right here in this area?
Steve Boehne: Yes, my elbow and my shoulder as I paddle. And also I noticed that I was paddling really slow, so I started just grinding the paddle smaller and smaller and consequently, I was paddling faster and I liked it more. I was talking to my buddy who was an Olympic kayak racer who said, “We found a paddle that is shaped like an otter tail which is much more efficient in the water.” When you take your stroke, the bottom of the paddle is moving through the water faster than the top. It is like an airplane propeller that goes around, the outside of the propeller is moving very fast and is skinny but the inside of the propeller is wide because it’s moving slow. The difference in width spreads the load better. So when you use this blade, the bottom is smaller because it moves faster through the water. And the upper part is moving slower, but it is holding more water because it’s wider. Here, take a paddle stroke and you can see the bottom moving faster than the top. In effect, this shape spreads the load over the entire length of the paddle instead of over loading the bottom like a square blade. In addition, It’s just a little bit easier to paddle with this paddle because the blade has less area. Younger guys that are really strong and buff, often prefer a powerful, square bladed paddle and I understand, we sell them as well, but we also do the ottertail paddle in a wider 7-inch blade or an 8-inch blade which has the same power, but a more efficient blade shape.
Evan: So you’re going for the narrow blade for surfing then right?
Steve Boehne: Yes.
Evan: So what’s the one you got in your hand?
Steve Boehne: This is a 6 ½ inch blade.
Evan: 6 ½ inches for surfing?
Steve Boehne: For myself and many tall guys yes. But, this is a 7” surfing blade too for a stronger guy.
Evan: The shaft is just different?
Steve Boehne: This one is carbon fiber, which is lighter.
Evan: So you sell two styles
Steve Boehne: Yes, each has an advantage. Carbon fiber is lighter, but stiffer. I actually prefer the flex in the regular composite shaft. It softens the entry and springs out at the end of the stroke.
Evan: So you notice a big difference in the half inch difference of width?
Steve Boehne: Yes, this 7” ottertail will have the same amount of power as regular square-blade paddle like the C4 paddles, and this 6.5” has less so for me it’s easier to paddle with.
Evan: Especially probably in the whitewash, huh?
Steve Boehne: Yes. You’re paddling out, the wave hits you, you go back a little bit and have to start again and another wave hits you, then you go to catch a wave. So you’re always starting and stopping. It’s kind of like a mountain bike in a lower gear. It’s just a lower gear paddle for rough terrain in the ocean.
Evan: So the top just got a regular, normal T on top?
Steve Boehne: Yes, it is just like a canoe paddle T.
Evan: And I see you have some wood ones too, right?
Steve Boehne: Yes, this is just an inexpensive wood paddle. We get it for kids or for wives. A guy buys an SUP and his wife wants to go but she is not going often, well he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money to get her an expensive paddle. We also carry the Quickblade paddles, Werner paddles and then the Surftech paddles. But I’m just out of them today.
Evan: How do you like them? The Quickblade versus the Surftech versus these ones and so on?
Steve Boehne: I like them all. They’re all fine. I think each one has it’s own design advantages. The Quickblade is a little bit smaller blade, more like mine. The Surftech is a very large blade – just the opposite design with the biggest area at the bottom so it is a very powerful paddle and the Werner paddle is excellent quality at an affordable price.
Evan: I put this edge guard stuff on my paddle. I bought it from you guys. We did a short little clip on it too. Would you explain to us about it?
Steve Boehne: Well, I notice whenever somebody wants to try my paddle and I trade and I start using a square paddle, I start banging my board all the time. With this narrow ottertail paddle, you don’t bang your board as often. Anyway, this edging really protects the board. And you know what? Your paddle doesn’t get banged up as much either.
Evan: I kind of like it because when you put this edging on, it’s easy. It has some self-stick inside. I don’t know if you ever tried to put rim rubber on a kayak paddle, it doesn’t work because you have to put the glue on it and anything with a bevel just slides right off. It sucks, so this one is pretty good idea. I like it.
Steve Boehne: Yes, I have used it for years on my wave ski paddles.
Evan: So do you notice any difference in performance; because I am getting kind of two trains of thought: one side is, “Ok I can feel it”. One side is “I can’t feel it”.
Steve Boehne: When you go around a tight corner, like in the square blade, sometimes this edging will fold or stick out a bit. When you paddle you can feel it. It feels “fuzzy” in the water. But if you put some super glue in there under the loose part and clamp it down with a C-clamp you can get rid of the fold. Then I can’t tell the difference in performance between having it or not. But what’s the big deal; does it feel good or does it feel bad, I guess that’s up to the feeler.
Infinity Surf Shop’s otter blade stand up paddle [5:20m]: Download