Windsurfers have been battling with this problem for years. How to separate to pieces of carbon fibre/fibreglass that have seized up after a bit of neglect.
And the same problem happens with split paddles. Salt or sand can get between the male and female connectors when putting them together and make separation after use almost impossible. And the problem is even worse with alloy paddles. Saltwater can react with metal and actually fuse the pieces together.
So firstly, prevention is better than cure. So make sure you keep your connectors clear of sand and salt water as far as possible. Not always possible in a shoreline gale, but try. And make sure you separate your paddle as soon as possible after finishing, clean it with freshwater, and always keep it in its protective bag.
And mud, grit, sand, saltwater can all get into the connector if you have a loose connection, so keep your connector as tight as possible (without overtensioning!)
But, sometimes, after a paddle, we don’t always have the energy to properly washdown the kit. You just chuck the paddle in the back of the van in one piece, with good intentions to wash it down and separate it when you get home. But when you get home it’s late, you need dinner and a beer, so you leave it until Monday. And Monday turns to Tuesday, and before you know it a week has gone past and the paddle is now stuck firm. So, what do you do?
So assuming you’ve enlisted the help of friends and tried brute force, twisting and yanking, the next thing to try is lubrication.
Letting washing up liquid seep into the connection overnight is often enough to allow enough movement for twisting and yanking on day two. If it’s not looser on day two, then leaving it soaking with washing liquid any longer won’t work.
So the next thing to try is hot and cold. Put the kettle on, and also fill a bowl with ice and water. Once the kettle has boiled, poor the icy cold water over the part of the shaft that has the male connector, and then the boiling water over the female connector. If you’re able then poor the icy water inside the paddle (this is sometimes possible with 3 piece paddles). And then resort to twisting, yanking and pulling again. Using strap handles to get a better grip on the stick often yields dividends. And make sure to keep enough in the kettle to make yourself a cuppa in celebration or commiseration!
If this doesn’t work, things are getting desperate. You’re now getting into the territory of methods that might damage your stick.
You can repeat the above replacing the icy water with freeze spray (available from most good hardware shops)
Trying to bend the paddle enough to slide a butter knife between the two section can work. Using the knife as a lever to prise the two sections far enough apart enough to allow lubricant or freeze spray to penetrate more thoroughly can also work, but you risk damaging the carbon fibre at the end of the sections.
The very last thing to try is using a vice to hold the upper section firm (use a teatowel to protect the shaft as best you can, but there is a real risk of damaging the stick now!), and twist the blade with all your strength.
If all of this hasn’t worked, the you’ve got a veritable sword in the stone. Then all you can do is take a saw to the shaft. Sawing through the male section will hopefully allow you to work the stuck male section out from the inside, and then at least leave you with an undamaged female section. Obviously this is your very last resort. Unless you know King Arthur.
Trust the experts: McConks SUP paddle review
So despite our earlier jibe about the value of expert opinion in this post truth era, many of us look to experts to help us to see past the marketing spiel, and to tell the good, from the indifferent, to the mediocre. And paddlesports instructors have particular expertise and their opinions are highly valued.
You might have heard us talk about #themalteseSUPproject. 4 outdoors / paddle instructors took off in November this year to paddle around Malta, a task that they (by and large) achieved despite a huge storm in the Med.
Georgina Maxwell, one of the riders, came to McConks to ask us to pimp her ride. So George set off with our 12’8 GoExplore board, designed as a touring/expedition SUP, and one of carbon SUP paddles. George was so blown away with our paddle, that she’s written us great little review, which we just had to share as a special blog post.
McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle.
As part of my sponsorship arrangement with McConks they offered me the McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – this is a 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle. This paddle weighs in at <700g and when it arrived I was struck immediately with its weight and size of which it packed down to.
On our expedition The Maltese Sup Project a few things were highlighted.
The paddle came in a tidy padded bag which can fit x2 3 piece split paddles in if you wanted a spare or in our case are trying to combine luggage. The next important thing to note is it fitted inside the SUP bag meaning you have only one bag to check in.
On the water
The paddle is comfortable to use on long distance. The T grip has a shape which sits in your palm in a snug smooth way with no plastic rough finish like I have previously experienced with other paddles.
Its adjustable it can go from as tall as 220cm for adults to as short as 170cm for kids.
I discovered the adjustable feature is also beneficial from transferring from feet to knees in the wind and chop. It means you can shorten the paddle with the flick of a switch and still be able to use the T grip.
Because it was 3 piece it didn’t seam to effect the strength in my opinion, even in the toughest of winds and swell I was unaffected by any flex. Dear I say I didn’t notice any but this may because I was so use to using this by this stage.
The 3 piece has a clip lock system, which uses little screws to keep it working, on long Jouneys and particularly on expedition I took a spare clasp and after a few days out I checked the tightness of the screws, they were always tight, so prhaps I was over prepared in this field.
There you have it, I tried my hardest not to say how much I enjoyed paddling with the Vario but I truly did enjoy the paddle and I would highly recommend it particularly for overseas travel.
No-one would dispute that inflatable SUP packages have come a long way in the last few years. But stand up paddle boarding is a paddle sport above all else, and the quality of the paddle included (often described as a ‘freebie’) sometimes lets the package down. This point is often missed, punters focusing too heavily on the board and not giving enough attention to the one defining piece of kit you’ll be using.
Walk into any retailer or hit up any inflatable SUP company online and you’ll be confronted by all manner of spangly equipment – most likely with loud boastings about ‘free bag’, ‘free leash’ AND ‘free paddle’. Great, you think! All the gear in one easy purchase. But alas all that glitters isn’t gold.
You have to ask yourself as a consumer, what are you actually getting. The board is usually going to be fine (as long as you’re looking at a reputable brand). But what about the included ‘stick’ (paddle)?
Firstly what material is the included paddle made from? If it’s an alloy shaft with a plastic blade then you’re not going to be feeling any benefit. Your first run out will probably be on the less than enjoyable side. An alloy paddle will usually bend significantly – too much, in fact (some flex can be a good thing with paddle shafts but not to the detriment of forward propulsion and/or limbs, muscles and joints). The low grade plastic blade will contort when drawn through the stroke (flutter) and after a while you’ll have made next to no ground when compared to someone using a more efficient ‘engine’. And we’ve met people who have managed to bend their ‘free’ paddle shaft irreparably on their first outing.
Let’s just pause at this juncture. It’s worth pointing out here that if you’ve got nothing to compare your experiences to then you’ll be none-the-wiser when it comes to any type of SUP kit, let alone paddles. At least during those initial forays. While this is true as a general statement, over the period of a few weeks/months you’ll possibly start to notice bodily wear and tear. At first you’ll put this down to being involved in a physically demanding activity. Chances are, however, that it’s not simply the fact you’re paddling that’s causing grief. In many cases the stress and strain placed on your ailing body is down to using badly made equipment.
Here at McConks we don’t supply our gear with rubbish accessories. We see the paddle as a key ingredient – as such our paddles are of high quality and designed to aid your enjoyment of SUP. We’ll not lie, this does add a few extra numbers to the bottom line cost, but when you consider the increased efficiency of a better quality paddle, and this knock on effect to your enjoyment factor, we’re sure you’ll agree the extra expense is worth it. And like for like, you won’t find kit of comparable quality at the same price.
And don’t just take our word for it. We value rider feedback and have had a number of paddlers check out what we offer regularly. Here you’ll find a recent review of one of our paddles which says it all if you ask us – https://standuppaddlemag.co.uk/2016/04/15/travelling-companion-mcconks-adjustable-three-piece-carbon-paddle-review/
In this era of post truth, we know that some people no longer trust the experts. If you’re one of these people, then you can read what regular customers have said here http://www.mcconks.com/sup-paddles/23-sup-paddles-mcconks-vario-pro-carbon-fibre-sup-paddle-2016-15000.html
Paddles are the main part of stand up paddle boarding – whatever type of SUPing you choose to do, and are your engine. Whether you own an inflatable or hard board, having as good a paddle as you can afford is key to performance, progression and continued enjoyment. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari with a moped engine. Therefore we highly recommend you pay this part of your set up due care and attention and get the paddle that does your board justice.
If you need advice then McConks is only too happy to advise. Give us a shout and let’s have a chat about all things paddle.