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Sep 12

SURGE – Re-defining wave paddles

SURGE – A SUP paddle designed to help you catch more waves & surf them better

The initial SUP wave paddle plans were made in summer ’15 but it would take 14 months for the project to be ready for release. We set out to make a wave specific paddle, aimed at stand up surfers riding on smaller boards. At that time not much was being made specifically for surfing and that didn’t seem right to us. The hardest part of the whole process was defining what it actually meant to be a wave specific paddle. We knew that the demands of surfing were very different to that of racing and flat water paddling but we had to quantify it before we could set out our design parameters. Late in the summer of ’15 we made some prototypes but really the project was not defined well enough for us to evaluate effectively, the prototypes were good, but were they what we wanted? At that point the development was put on hold and we concentrated on the race paddle, after all it is easier to define what you want from a good race paddle. The winter months were spent thinking, sat in the lineup contemplating what we really wanted to achieve. Watching riders, talking to riders, trying their paddles, session by session the pieces started to come together and the development process could resume.

By carefully analyzing what SUP surfers actually did we changed some of our initial ideas. In the often frantic scramble to turn and catch the set or avoid destruction paddle stroke technique it at its worst. With riders jabbing more than stroking we needed to adjust how the paddle behaved. In essence we needed the paddle to grab the water and correct the stoke quickly so that power and acceleration was not lost. In an environment when a couple of meters can make the difference between a long hold down and safely making it over the set wave, this seemed pretty important. With more power and drive the bonus is that the board accelerates quicker and gets you into the wave earlier, we wanted to make it easier to catch more waves. The paddle needed to be lightweight, small and easy to maneuver. There is a lot of paddle movement and switching during surfing both when paddling and riding, the lighter and easier we could make it for riders to adjust their paddle the better. So a small paddle with tons of acceleration and power was required. With a smaller blade, we also wanted to go smaller shaft to both reduce weight and increase strength. A smaller shaft is also easier to swing and hold on to. For some riders this is the hardest thing to adjust to, but once you do you’ll never want to go back.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-31-22-pm As we moved through the development process our blades and overall paddle dimensions were getting smaller, 75kg riders were now comfortable using a sub 80 sq in blade when in the past they were using 85s. To really perfect a design you need to push the limits a little and see where the positive relationship breaks down, then you can step back and moderate. We settled on two sizes for the Surge, 77 sq in for riders in the 60 – 75kg range and the 82 for riders in the 70 – 80 kg range. For riders over 80kg the EPIC 95 will probably be better suited.

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With the typical surfer’s paddle stroke being short and fast the angle of the blade was kept to 8 degrees, this gives a more positive and direct feel. We tried a lot of shaft ideas resulting in three new shafts, the Reduced Diameter Premium Carbon in Medium and Flex options and then a more cost effective version in the Medium 75% carbon. Shafts are often overlooked, for us they are as important as the blade.

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Our Premium Carbon shafts are exclusively made in the USA. For the Surge we increased the shaft and overall paddle flex, the aim here is to give a smoother power delivery and also improve bracing and pivoting while surfing. Weight is very important, the lighter you can go and remain strong the better. The smaller blades and reduced diameter shaft automatically made the paddles lighter but we continued to push and see what was possible while always maintaining strength. The result was a paddle which weighed as little as 380 grams or 13.4 ounces (depending on options). We are confident that the Surge is among the lightest wave rated paddles (if not the lightest) available. A few grams might not seem like much but it makes a big difference, next time you go paddling add 25 grams of weight to your paddle and see how it feels (try taping some coins to your shaft).

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Drawing on our experiences with our race paddle development we increased the blade shaping considerably from earlier prototypes. The dihedral style shaping features a pronounced center ridge which is then scooped out towards the rails. This shaping delivers power but also stabilizes the stroke whatever angle the blade is inserted, this ensures that you get the boost of speed which you need. The shaping tapers toward the tip but remains pronounced, this helps if you do not get your full paddle in the water. The front of the blade is angled with a soft center ridge which increases strength while also helping riding, designed to enable you to brace as you lean into the turn and reducing the chance of the blade catching unexpectedly. Given the low angle and shaping the Surge paddles pretty well backwards, useful if you do not have time adjust (or just fooling around)! To improve safely and reduce board damage the blade edges were rounded.

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Once you know exactly what you want it is much easier to hone in your design to meet the criteria effectively. While there may be a suggested launch date for a product you do not always know when you are going to bring everything together. At Black Project getting it right is more important than release dates, so we keep developing until we are ready to share our designs. In June, we were already working on a new set of prototypes when v10.2 just felt magic, perfectly balanced, powerful but smooth, quick to accelerate and featherlight. At this point we knew that we had a paddle we wanted to share with other paddlers and the next batch of prototypes was scrapped.

 

The Surge is designed to go surfing. We expect riders under 80kg and riders using boards 8’6” to benefit from the Surge the most. You don’t need to be an advanced wave rider just one who wants to catch more waves and surf them better. We have taken away the drawbacks of having a paddle in the surf and focussed on enhancing the benefits of SUP surfing.

 

Surge Wave Paddle Overview

  • Available 82 and 77 sq in blade sizes
  • Available in Premium Carbon and 100% Carbon
  • Reduced Diameter Shaft
  • Weight from 380 grams

 

 

The new paddles are available now so get in touch and discuss your needs.
More to follow…

 

Design in Maui. Tested worldwide.