Light, Quick and Ocean Fast Hybrid
For 2017 I have partnered with Blackfish Paddles as an athlete ambassador with their company being based right here in Squamish, B.C. Blackfish Paddles design, manufacture and distribute high quality, handcrafted SUP paddles. All their blades and handles are handcrafted in Thailand using the highest quality materials. Their manufacturing processes ensure your paddle will not only look great but will provide an exceptional paddling experience.I have been impressed with all aspects of this company and I am really excited to represent a local brand. Owner and friend, David Smart has created a pretty incredible product that performs well, looks great and is environmentally focused.
Invest in your paddle!!
I have been running sup courses, clinics and instructor training through my business for almost 10 years and I always tell people to invest more in their paddle comparatively than in your board. Your paddle is the engine and once you invest in and find that blade that you love you will never want to let it go. You will change boards throughout your paddling career but a good blade will be an extension of your body and the difference in performance you get with a great paddle is night and day. I understand there are other applications for adjustables and durable, heavier paddles but for you as individual paddler racing, training and touring then invest in a good one and purchase from a local shop and staff that really know what they are talking about. I would be happy to chat with you about Blackfish Paddles anytime.
Build Your Weapon
One of the great things about Blackfish Paddles is that you have the option of getting exactly what you want for your blade. The Andaman comes in two shaft choices, carbon adjustable and carbon filament, two handle styles the T grip handle and the Ergo handle and a hand laid 520 or 580 blade size. The paddle I have been using has the has the round carbon shaft, ergo grip and is in the 520 blade size. I am just over six feet and I have the length cut to just over 77 inches. I thought it was a touch short but my body has adjusted well to it and the thickness of my Infinity Blackfish works as well with the length.
Smaller is better?
The past couple of years I have been using a blade size that is around 94 sq inches. The 520 works out to be around 81 sq inches with the 580 coming in at 90 sq inches. I have been loving the smaller blade size on the ocean as it offers super quick acceleration and very little stress on the body. The Andaman Blade is a hybrid between the teardrop shape and the high aspect that you would see on the Race and it provides a very solid catch with a quick exit and recovery. Ocean provides unpredictable conditions and often you have to change your cadence and the Andaman is very reactive and still provides a good catch. The small blade size also allows you to keep you to keep a faster cadence in headwinds or when stability is needed. I thought the 520 was going to be too small but my body has grown to love it and at this point it is hard for me to paddle with anything else. Mind you I have not tried the 580 yet nor the 550 in the Race.
Light with the magic touch.
The first thing you notice about this blade is the lightness and the feel. It is super lightweight and has a really great feel to it when it’s in use. It has a round shaft which I prefer with a 3k twill carbon construction and is well built with ABS rails that provide durability. The shaft has a really great flex pattern to it, not too stiff nor is it too flexy. Generally if a paddle shaft is too stiff you may feel it in your body and will have more of a dead wood feel to it. A paddle shaft that has too much flex will cost you power and efficiency.
I train, tour and spend most of my time on the ocean and I have quickly grown to love this blade. The blade pairs really well with the all around ocean race designs that are out there right now and gives you the ability to keep your cadence up which is a benefit on the ocean. This is a fantastic blade for ocean racing, downwinding and fitness.
Overall I can highly recommend this blade, I love it. This is the first blade from Blackfish Paddles that I have used extensively and I am looking forward to testing their new Race 500. Blackfish Paddles focuses on the environment and each paddle is shipped and comes with a nylon paddle sleeve instead of it being wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. For the price of $349 Canadian it is a heck of a deal and well worth the investment.