SURGE – Designing the Best SUP Surfing Paddle
Why Make a Surf-Specific SUP Paddle?
Being based in Hawaii, we were determined to design the best SUP surfing paddle. At the time, not much was being made specifically for SUP surfing and as avid SUP surfers ourselves, that just didn’t seem right. So we went to work.
The demands of surfing are very different from racing and flat water paddling, but the real challenge was quantifying those differences and settling on new design parameters. We made some good prototypes, but we weren’t satisfied. So development was put on hold and we concentrated on race paddle development (see HYDRO). But the wheels never stopped turning. We spent months sitting in the lineup watching paddlers, talking to paddlers, trying their paddles, and session-by-session, the pieces started to come together. Our extensive research and development was about to come to fruition.
What Makes a Good SUP Surfing Paddle?
By carefully analyzing what SUP surfers actually do, we changed some of our initial ideas. In the often frantic scramble to turn and catch the set or avoid destruction, SUP paddle stroke technique is at its worst.
With paddlers 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 stroke quickly for power and acceleration. Because 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, maximum power is essential.
With more power and drive, the board also accelerates quicker and makes it much easier to catch a few waves. The paddle also needed to be lightweight, small and easy to maneuver. In SUP surfing, there is a lot of paddle movement and switching sides both during paddling and riding. Naturally, a lighter paddle makes it much easier to adjust the paddle position. This meant that a small paddle with tons of acceleration and power was required.
With a smaller blade, we also wanted to go with a smaller shaft to both reduce weight and increase strength. Not to mention, a smaller shaft is easier to swing and hold onto. For some paddlers, this takes some time to adjust to, but once you do you’ll never want to go back. (The Large 87 is designed for bigger paddlers and bigger boards, hence using the Standard Diameter shaft (SDS).
How Big Should My SUP Surfing Paddle Be?
As we moved through the development process, our blades and overall paddle dimensions were getting smaller. 165 pound paddlers were now comfortable using a sub-80 square inch blade, when they were using 85s in the past.
To really perfect a design you need to push the limits and see where the positive relationship breaks down, then you can step back and moderate. What started as two paddle sizes has grown into a range of four – XS72, S77, M82 and L87.
With the typical surfer’s paddle stroke being short and fast, the angle of the blade was kept to 8° –– giving paddlers a positive and direct feel. Meanwhile, our Premium Carbon shafts are exclusively made in the USA.
For the Surge, we increased the shaft and overall paddle flex to provide a smoother power delivery and also improve bracing and pivoting while SUP 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 309 grams or 10.9 oz (depending on size and options), making the Surge the lightest surf-specific SUP paddle you’ll find. A few grams or ounces, might not seem like much, but it makes a big difference when you are in the surf zone and trying to scratch into a big set wave.
Drawing on our experiences with race paddle development, we increased the blade shaping considerably from earlier prototypes. The dihedral shaping features a pronounced center ridge, which is then scooped out towards the rails.
This shaping delivers power but also stabilizes the stroke at whatever angle the blade is inserted, ensuring you get the boost of speed you need. The shaping tapers toward the tip but remains pronounced, which helps if you don’t get your full paddle blade in the water. The front of the blade is angled with a soft center ridge which increases strength. To improve safety and reduce board damage, the blade edges were rounded.
The development of the SURGE took countless hours because we believe good is not good enough. We set out to create the best SUP surfing paddle on the market and the SURGE is that paddle. If you want the best, sometimes you just need to build it yourself. Because at the end of the day, we’re SUP surfers too and that inspires what we do at Black Project.
Surge SUP Surfing Paddle Overview
- Available 4 blade sizes (XS72, S77, M82, L87)
- Available in Premium Carbon
- Reduced Diameter Shaft (RDS) on XS72, S77 & M82)
- Standard Diameter Shaft (SDS) on L87
- Weight from 309 grams / 10.9 oz
Learn more about the SURGE SUP Surfing Paddle here >
More SUP Surfing Resources