It stands to reason that heavier and taller paddlers are more capable of coping with bigger blades, while smaller paddlers will conversely need smaller blades. As shown in the table, there are a number of areas of crossover, some degree of personal preference and other factors discussed below that can help you decide between two options. Many experienced paddlers have multiple blade sizes in their quiver, which they use for various situations.
The bigger and heavier your board, the larger the blade you will need to power it through the water. When paddling on a smaller SUP surfboard with too big a blade, you will notice that the board wants to pivot with every stroke. A smaller blade enables you to track better and paddle more efficiently.
For shorter distances and sprint racing, athletes tend to use a bigger blade because fatigue is less of an issue and they want to gain the most power they can while maintaining a high cadence. Over longer distances, athletes generally use a smaller blade to conserve energy while focusing on maintaining an efficient stroke technique.
If you paddle blade is too big, you may notice some or all of these symptoms:
If you paddle blade is too small, you may notice some or all of these symptoms: