How to get the best out of your Carbon paddle

Stand Up Paddle Carbon PaddleWithout a doubt one of the nicest pieces of equipment, and one worth investing serious $'s in, is your paddle.

It is an extension of your body and a good paddle is something you become very attached to. Here are some tips to keep your paddle in one piece and live a long and happy life together.

DONT COOK IT

It is a little known fact that you can 'cook' a Carbon paddle.  By their very nature (being black), they absorb a lot of heat. As your paddle was made with heat you can well and truly 'deconstruct' it if you allow it to over heat.

You paddle is not covered under warranty if you overheat it, so here are some tips to avoid ruining your paddle.  The blade is the most susceptible part to over heating as they often have a foam core. The air inside, if hot enough, can expand and deform the blade.    The main culprit is leaving your paddle in your car with the sun beating down on it through your windscreen or window.

Avoid constant exposure to direct heat and you will get a long life out of your paddle.
 
IT'S NOT A GONDOLA POLE
Simple enough, but push off sand or a solid object and you risk creasing the blade. Your paddle is made for paddling in water, nothing else.
 
CARBON IS FICKLE
Just like your high performance short board or Mal, carbon paddles are a compromise between durability, strength and weight. Carbon loves to hide a weakness for a few weeks and then catch you out when you least expect it!

More often than not, breakages happen when you are just 'cruising' along.    If you get rolled in a wipe out with your board and paddle, any part of the board can hit the paddle shaft and weaken it. Often it will not break at the time.  The weakness will sit there, constantly being weakened over time, until one day it just gives way.

Even the best carbon paddles can snap.

By their very nature, mixing a light, strong carbon paddle with mother natures most powerful force, can have its risks.

To make a paddle 'unbreakable' would mean that it would be so stiff and heavy, it would be very unpleasant to use.   Buy a good paddle and the risks are lower. But like your high performance surfboard, there are forces that will break or damage any paddle.
 
Stand Up Paddle - look after your paddleWATER IN YOUR PADDLE? WHAT?

It can be very annoying to find you have water in your paddle shaft. The main culprits are a poorly fitted handle (not enough glue) or voids where the paddle and blade are glued together. Both these issues often  get worse over time.

Fortunately it can be easily fixed:

Drill a VERY small hole (1.5mm max) about 20mm below the end of the shaft. Tip the paddle so that the water is over the hole. Blow into the hole to increase pressure inside the shaft and then let the pressure blow the water out.

Repeat this until all water is out. Seal the hole with epoxy or silicone

SEAL IT UP

Next you need to seal the void that is letting in the water.  If you think it is the handle you can take it back to where you bought it and get it reset or ask how to do this.   If it is where the blade meets the shaft the best solution is to seal around the joint with silicone or epoxy. If you are not handy, take it back to where you bought it to get it fixed.

So, with a little care and attention your beautiful carbon paddle can have a long and happy life.
 
Courtesy of Andrew Allen, Paddle Surfing Australia  www.paddlesurfing.com.au

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