I have heard carbon paddles described as axes for the damage they can do to the rail of a board. Being as most people can spend up to £900 on a lovely new board the last thing that you want to do is hack the rail to bits. As you become more experienced you hack the board less, but there are always those days in stand up paddle surfing when you can accidently take a chunk out of your pride and joy. We decided to check out SurfCo Hawaii’s Paddle Guard Kit.
So what are the available solutions?
You can, of course, get some electrical tape and zip it a few times around the edge of your paddle. That is what most people do with the first paddle they get. I have done this in the past and found that the tape wears through and you need to replace it regularly if you don’t want to take chunks out of the rail.
While visiting my friend Andy at Airhead I noticed that he was stocking the SurfCo Hawaii Paddle Guard Kit. I was about to take delivery of a brand new board and I decided that, being as the board was costing £800, I could afford £20 for the kit to see if it protected my new investment.
The Paddle Guard Kit consists of a roll of plastic extrusion, which in cross section looks like a “U” shape and has some contact glue in the base of the “U”, some super glue, some tape and instructions. The idea is that you clean the blade of your carbon paddle and dab some of the super glue on sparingly then start push the guard onto the paddle starting close to where the shaft meets the blade and then you work your way round, a few dabs of super glue, followed by pushing the extrusion onto the blade.
Installing the Paddle Guard Kit.
My first piece of advice is borne out of experience – do not use too much super glue and have a sharp craft knife handy. You have to be really firm at the beginning to spread the “U” of the extrusion onto the top of the blade (where it meets the shaft). If you hesitate you stand a good chance of getting super glue onto the top of the extrusion and it glues it together making the “U” shape into an “O” shape. A quick cut with the craft knife opens this up again.
Once I got past the top of the blade pushing the guard onto the narrow edge of the blade was easy and it went on very quickly.
Finally I was back where I started but on the opposite side of the shaft. I used the knife to cut the excess extrusion off and used the supplied tape to cover over the ends of the guard on the shaft.
I was pretty happy with how tidy this looked.
Field Testing the Paddle Guard Kit.
I did all of this over two months ago and I have had lots of stand up paddle surfing sessions since then. Now the big question – did it work? Well my rails have zero, that’s right zero hacks in them. I am surprised by this and some of my stand up paddle surfing friends have said that it could be because my technique has improved, but it can’t all be down to technique as I know I have hit the rail a few times. There are some small compression dings that look like paddle dings, but none of the paint has chipped and none of the epoxy has been hacked off, and these are hard to see.
It did not add any noticeable wieght to the paddle and it has not affected the paddles performance, infact it feels exacly the same as before.
Overall the Paddle Guard has been pretty durable. I have noticed a small section of the Paddle Guard, close to the top of the blade has started peel off. I shall be fixing this with some super glue, but apart from that it has stood up to the wear and tear well.
The Paddle Guard kit has really helped take the sharp edge off the paddle blade and it has protected my board, it is definitely better than electrical tape. My technique may well have improved as well, but the paddle guard has protected the rails. Next time I get a new paddle, the Paddle Guard Kit will be going straight onto it, it gets five stars from me.