Early last month I spoke with Dave Chun, founder of Kialoa Paddles, about his paddles, which he has been manufacturing since 1990. Dave started with stand up paddles in 1999. I got him to answer some questions from our stand up paddle surf community at Wet Feet Hawaii’s store. You gotta tune out the noise from the store because we shot this during business hours.
In this four-part series, Dave, who has for a long time been a leading manufacturer of outrigger paddles, answers questions from the public about stand up paddles.
Evan Leong: What makes your paddle different from other brands? There are so many brands to choose from now, why should people consider your brand?
Dave Chun: I really don’t like to compare myself to other products. It just makes everybody upset. You know, I’ll say this, I have been building paddles for 17 years. I’ve had most of the bad things happen to me. I continue to have bad things happen to me, it’s just the nature of the beast. We back what we do. Our paddles have a one-year guarantee. Everything is proprietary. I design everything. All ideas. We build all the parts to our own specific. I don’t do the aluminum. I don’t have an aluminum tube yet. I probably won’t do that. We’ve got to do rentals. But the other thing is I do have background in designing paddles. This is what I have done full-time since 1990. We have been very successful in the outrigger market. In all modesty, I guess we are the dominant paddle in that market in the US—seven Molokai Hoi winners since 1995, Women’s Molokai Race four times. I’d like to say, those guys would have one the race using a broom. It’s not the paddle; it’s the athlete. However, the broom they choose to use is mine and that makes us very proud.
Evan Leong: I have a two-piece paddle that is starting to develop some flay at the joint, what’s the best way to get rid of the looseness and how much will that weaken the paddle shaft?
Dave Chun: I don’t make two-piece paddles. The reason is I consider it kind of a different technology because the joint, if it’s going to be useful as a two-piece paddle, it would be in the middle of the paddle. It’s a little tricky because that is a high stress point in the paddle when you’re introducing a joint. What I would do is go back to the manufacturer who built the paddle. Tell them what problem you are having. I’m certain they are going to take care of you. They probably know what is happening and they can guide you. If you think the paddle is going to break, and that’s just the way it is, just wrap that thing with a bunch of fiberglass, a bunch of epoxy glue, I’m sure it’s going to be fine. Your hands probably not going to touch it because it’s probably lower than your bottom half. Should be ok.
Evan Leong: Next question is, I’d like to know if there are any differences between a good paddle like skinny guy like me and one of your pipe charging, big bruisers. I think this guy is probably about 170. Sometimes I stick to my 9-inch wide blade in the water and it just won’t move for enough of a split second that I notice it slows me off balance. I’m thinking a skinnier blade, but how skinny coupled with more flex in the shaft is the answer but I don’t know. Could you answer?
Dave Chun: Once again, I’d say trust your judgment. If you feel you need a smaller paddle then you probably need a smaller paddle. How much smaller, I really can’t answer that. If you’re saying that you feel that the paddle is not sticking up, you got to remember too, once you get a body in motion, it’s easier to maintain that body in motion. Classic example is a racecar is going around the track at 200 miles an hour; it suddenly starts to slide in the turn. Even the car continues to spin and slide in the turn; it’s actually going slower than 200 miles an hour. But because it’s in motion, it’s easier for it to maintain a motion. Same thing happens on a canoe or happens on a surfboard. That first few strokes, when you’re starting from a dead stop, are going to have the most resistance. As you get the board in motion, the board is not going to require much power to maintain that same given speed. Some stalling on the first stroke is a very common thing. Most paddles in canoe situations break on the start because that’s the situation of highest resistance. Dead in the water and now you’re going to get that thing up to speed. Your paddle may not be too small if you’re talking about a first stroke. Like I said, if it compromises, it’s the best paddles. Good in surf conditions might not be better in another condition. He has got to look at the whole overall picture. What does it do 99 percent of the time?
Evan Leong: Is there a point of diminishing return where the paddle becomes too small?
Dave Chun: Absolutely, it’s just whistles through the water. If your paddle is whipping through the water, you’re not getting any traction, then it is probably too small. However, this is the American way of thinking, bigger is better. Generally speaking, most people buy things that are too big rather than too small. It’s the Costco syndrome, huh? I can say that if you think that it’s too big, it’s probably too big.
Dave Chun of Kialoa Answers Questions About Paddles (Part 3) [4:56m]: Download