Todd Bradley – SUP Paddles and Downwind Tips Part 2


In this next video, Todd explains the proper design of a stand up paddle in more detail. The bottom line is, a paddle should have the right shape, blade angle and surface design to get maximum efficiency.

(click thumbnail to launch video)


Todd Bradley: So let’s talk about what I learned about with regards to the Outdoor Retailer and paddles.

Paddles are interesting. There’s a lot of a paddles out there now that are basically outriggers or kayak, canoe paddles that have flat surface on the back, and I have explained this before. We have a different way of paddling our SUP’s, again we’re on a planing platform not a displacement hull so what that means is that paddle has to be more efficient in the water. No longer is your fulcrum point 5 inches away from the paddle, it’s now 50 or 45 inches away from the paddle. So what that means is that your blade needs to be more efficient through the water and also needs to stir itself. If you have a blade that has a flat surface on it, or is not shaped properly to fit under the edge of the hull of the board it will wonder, it will cavitate, and it also does not apply the pressure of the water how it’s supposed to be applied for a planing hull, and I’ll explain. (0:01:16:8)

What happens is: the reason why we have 12, 14 degrees on the blade and we do not have a hook in the blade, is efficiency of where the water is directed. When you have a displacement hull, it doesn’t matter where the water flow is going as long as you have a good solid bite, the hull is displaced. So that means, it doesn’t compress as easily, when you have a planing hull, you’re trying to get the hull off this board to plain on the surface of the water. So what that means is, the water flow of the paddle needs to be pushed down. If it’s pushing down it’s lifting the planing hull up. (0:02:04:0) So therefore, if you look at how this blade goes through the water you can see the angle of the blade comes through the water and the direction of the water flow is pushing down. And by pushing the water flow down, you lift the displacement or the planing hull up which is what we’re trying to do. As you come through the stroke you can see the water still being pushed down, pushed down, pushed down, at this point, you release and you come across to the next stroke. (0:02:42.5)

So it’s really important that the blade has at least 12-14 degree bend in it so you can continue to push the water down. It’s important that it’s not too flat. If it’s a flat surface what happens is as you drive through the water, the blade’s gonna cavitate, and it’s gonna do this. So if you notice, when you put your blade in the water and you hit it really hard and your blade does this, it’s the flat surface of the blade, it’s not efficient. That’s why we have this patented design, large dihedral and the way the curves are set on this paddle it actually stirs the blade and pushes the water in the desired direction that you want – down. (0:03:32.)

The other thing we’re seeing a lot of, we’re seeing a lot of hooks. Lot of paddles that have a lot of bite in them, these are great for displacement hulls, wonderful for getting a lot of bite. But what does do when you go through the water on a planing hull? It grabs the water harder which then makes you more unstable, because it wants to pull you over the paddle, it’s not efficient, and also, it’s not pushing the water flow down in the desired direction that you want to do to lift the plain hull up. (0:03:56.3)

So again, proper flow of the paddle is super important when you’re talking about a planing hull compared to a displacement hull and that’s why the products that we try to develop here are specific to the sport. It’s not an outrigger paddle with a long shaft, it’s a specific blade made for a specific sport, which is a planing hull sport. (0:04:20.0)

So that’s a quickie explanation of how we learned more of the Outdoor Retailer because these customers are very knowledgeable in the differences between planing hulls and displacement hulls, and what paddles do in the water. And I thought it’s really important to share this with other people who maybe looking at what equipment to buy.

So, what are we trying to do when we’re making a stroke, just a quick stroke thing? (0:04:51.3)

A stroke technique thing: you’re trying to have the least amount of body, an efficient blade that pushes the water down, no hooks, no scoops, no big mac’s, no French fries, just a nice blade that has a clean dihedral that draws straight through the water and forces through the water down with a 12-14 degree bend, the stroke is off the top arm and releases, everything is in the twist. The more back you throw into it, if you look into the stroke, if you throw your back into it you and you come over like this. Look what direction the blade is pointing right now? (0:05:28.6)The blade is pulling the water down or up. And what’s that doing it’s pushing down this planing hull. So you’re defeating the purpose. So people using larger blades, scoop blades, all these things that are looking for more bite to catch a wave or you’re thinking that “oh I need a bigger blade so catch waves more”, what happened to the blade or blades that have too much bite in them is that you have to start driving over them harder and the board never plains. The board just compresses. (0:06:046) We’re trying to catch a wave or trying to go fast, you’re trying to get a sport up on planing on top of the surface so you can catch this wave. And if you keep driving over it with this big hooked blades you’re just gonna slow yourself down and you’re inefficient. (0:06:19.3)

So it’s really important that you have a proper stroke, you don’t use as much as body, and an efficient blade will keep you from having to use much body. It should all happen with top arm and twist. You can see right here that I’m not paddling like this, I’m more efficient. (0:06:37.6)The board is moving in one direction forward and backwards. The minute I start doing this, I start pressing this planing hull down and it slows it down. So it’s really important when you’re paddling in waves and you’re trying to catch waves and you’re having a hard time. It’s not about how hard or how much you’re pulling it, it’s about getting the board up in planing hull on the surface so you can paddle strokes should be really short, quick and you should have the least amount of body movement as possible. And if your blade is too big and too biting, say it again, all you got to do is you’re gonna force more body into it. You’re counter productive. (0:07:15.3)

So think about the equipment you buy, think about the stroke you use when it comes to efficiency and catching waves or as you get better, let’s learn more about your techniques and the equipment that you’re using and pay attention to the equipment you’re buying that it’s specific to the sport you’re doing.(0:07:37.5)

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