As you may know Amelia Island Paddle Surf Co. is owned and operated by SKLTN. Under this arrangement we get to test and abuse the products we make and promote. With so much direct interaction with a broad spectrum of paddle boarders it is also the source of new product ideas. This is how our dedicated wave paddle the SKLTN Surf 3.0 Carbon came to be.
As paddle surfers we realized that paddles designed for down winders, touring and SUP racing just don’t cut it in the surf. Sadly, we learned this the hard way with broken shafts and handles as well as joint pain.
In looking for better surf paddles we found some paddle options over the years. But, by and large, these “surf” paddles were really made by racers for surfing. Early “surf” blades tended to focus on one aspect of paddle surfing – the need for short burst of speed. These paddles were equipped with massive blades and stiff shafts. As such we realized that blindly applying the concepts of paddle design from SUP racing and touring (or canoeing, kayaking for that matter) might not work so well for paddle surfing.
By no means are we throwing the baby out with the bath water. We have learned a lot about paddle design from our racing. kayaking, and canoeing heritage. Further, we have used (and still use) a number of different SUP wave paddles over the years all of which had things we liked about them.
Major brands we have used over the years include NAISH, Quick Blade, Boardworks, Yolo Board, Starboard and Werner. All paddles were high performance and some of these paddles were designed specifically for surfing. All were 100% carbon fiber and/or Kevlar. Blade sizes ranged from 89 to 110 sq. in. Shafts have ranged from stiff to flexible and with outer diameters of 26 mm to 34 mm. We have even tried an oval shaft otherwise all shafts have been round. Grip design varied across the board from ergonomic palm to T-handles.
Each paddle had it's pros and cons.
Over the years we have noticed some of these companies continue to innovate while others have remained relatively static in their paddle designs. That said, our biggest issue with all these paddles was the price point. Nearly all of them start at around $400. Our favorite of the group is the NAISH Wave LE paddle. It retails for $550.
The feedback from our paddle surfing customers reinforced our concerns about paddle prices. Interestingly paddle surfers will spend nearly $3K on a carbon fiber paddle board, yet they really have an aversion to spending $400+ on any kind of paddle much less a dedicated surf paddle. For many of our customers a surf paddle would also mean they needed a second paddle just for surfing.
Our experience with SUP paddles combined with this feedback from our paddle surfing customers got us thinking. Can we build a dedicated wave paddle at a lower price point without sacrificing the key performance characteristics specific to SUP surfing? And so the journey began. Our objective was to build a paddle optimized for the surf at a price point that won't break the bank. Further we wanted to do it without compromising the quality, performance or durability of our wave paddle.
And so it began...