I got 2 Infinity Surf ottertail paddles for my birthday in November and so far have only been able to test it a number of conditions. At first I was leery of this paddle but I have since changed my mind. This is what I’ve been using for the last few weeks.
Rider: 34 yrs old; 6′ tall; 217 lbs (after Thanksgiving)
Rider Skill Level: Novice
Conditions: So far I’ve tested the Infinity ottertail paddles in all conditions; I’ve used it surfing in light winds and fairly glassy conditions to windy and choppy surf and downwinders. I’ve also used it to paddle tandem with my son in nice conditions in Waikiki.
Description: I tried 2 ottertail paddles. The first one is an 82″ long paddle with a carbon fiber shaft and a 7″ blade. The blade is longer than the average surf blade paddle so the surface area is still significant. This is called their surf paddle.
The second paddle is an 80″ epoxy shaft paddle with a 6.5″ blade. This is called their narrow surf paddle. The epoxy shaft has a lot of flex in it. The carbon shaft is stiff and a lighter. I prefer the carbon shaft. That’s not to say a shaft with more flex isn’t good. I let an 85 year old lady try it at Waikiki and she really liked it because it was easier for her to paddle.
With the longer blade, the shaft needs to also be longer to be able to submerge the entire blade properly. That means the overall length of the paddle needs to be 2 to 4″ longer than what I normally use for a canoe style bladed stand up paddle.
The ottertail shape allows you to match the power of your strength to the bite and power in the paddle. Younger and stronger guys can get a larger blade and older and less strong guys (and gals) can gain power in their stroke by gaining a higher stroke count.
The ottertail shape feels very different than a canoe blade. My canoe blade paddles “bite” immediately in the water and have a consistent feel through the whole stroke. The ottertail paddle starts off with less resistance and then increases in power during the stroke. Dip it in a little and get less resistance. Dip it in a lot and get more.
Pros: Because I am able to have more control on the amount of resistance I want, I find these paddles much easier on my rotator cuffs. I can last longer using these paddles and get less fatigue. I seem to lose my balance less in situations where less resistance is needed. Big guys also seem to like this paddle. I let Alika, a Waikiki Beach Boy who looks around 250 lbs try it in Waikiki. He really liked it and said he was going to buy one to try in distance races. I especially like this paddle in small Waikiki surf when I take my son tandem. I like how I can determine the resistance and use less when needed because it’s much easier on my shoulders.
Cons: When I try this paddle side by side with my C4 I notice a difference in power of the stroke. Some days that is what I want and other days I like to use the ottertail blade. That can be remedied by a larger blade. In the first 20 minutes the ottertail paddle had a weird side to side wobble during the stroke. After 20 minutes it disappeared and has not come back.
Verdict: These paddles are really good, especially if you have joint pain. You have to try it personally to understand what I’m talking about but so far most of the people I let try it are surprised at how good they work.