Your optimal paddle length for the SUP paddle depends on a lot of different factors. The most obvious ones are your height and the thickness of the board. Then, everything from application, experience (sport-specific fitness) and personal preferences play a role. Also, the trend is towards shorter paddles as the SUP sport develops. The lengths given in this guide are for flatwater and can also be used for downwind paddling.
In general, you can add 20-25 cm to your body length when you are a beginner, 15-20 cm as an intermediate and 10-15 cm when you are fit. This range leaves enough room for personal preference, but is also precise enough that you won't get the paddle length wrong. The reason why shorter paddles are recommended for experienced paddlers is because you need to be able to stand in a more bent position, which will be difficult if you have not trained those muscles. For short sprint distances you can use an even shorter paddle. The reason here is the same, the bent body posture is more effective, at the same time you stand in that position only for a short time. A possibility to get more leverage is also to keep your paddle in undergrip (the pushing hand holds the paddle under the paddle handle) for short races or sprints.
2 Blade Size
In general, you should be able to paddle with the desired paddle frequency over the distance you usually paddle during training/competition. Another sign that you have too large blades can be that you get too much lactic acid during interval training without reaching a sufficiently high heart rate or that your paddle frequency usually drops significantly over a distance training session.
3 Blade Shape & Operating Principles
3.1 Operating Principle
When you pull the paddle through the water, the water splits at the front of the blade (the side facing you). The water flows around the blade and gathers at the back again where it forms vortices that cause the paddle to loosen its grip in the water. The paddle blade should provide a good grip in the water but at the same time release enough to still maintain a certain frequency. As it moves through the water, however, it should do so with as little turbulence as possible. That way, the effect is better and the paddle is more stable.
3.2 Balde Shape
Most paddle blades have a rib in the middle that divides the water in a controlled manner. The blade shape is preferably straight or slightly positively curved to capture as much water as possible in relation to the blade surface. The stiffer the blade, the better it minimizes turbulence.
The contour of the blade does not affect the total force developed by the paddle, but rather how the force is distributed during the stroke, especially at impact. A teardrop-shaped paddle (which is wider at the bottom) provides more direct grip in the water. A long and narrow paddle provides a smoother and more even stroke.
The forward-angled paddle blade should ensure that the blade is vertical in the water (which gives the most power) when the force on the blade will be greatest.
4 Shaft Stiffness
For sprinting, stiff shafts are mostly used to get a more direct power transmission. For all-round paddles we recommend medium stiff shafts (such as Jantex stiff shaft). Soft shafts (such as Jantex flexi-soft) are preferable if you want a gentle shaft and are mostly paddling long distance or recreationally. Feel free to ask us.
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