Standup paddleboarding doesn’t require much equipment. A paddler can basically get out on the water with as little as a board and a paddle. Once the type of board is decided on the next decision is what to choose a standup paddleboard paddle. However, before one can talk about a SUP paddle, a basic understanding of the parts of a SUP paddle is essential.
A stand-up paddleboard paddle is more similar to a canoe paddle than a kayak paddle.
Like a canoe paddle, a SUP paddle only has one blade and is therefore paddled on one side of the boat, switching to the other side when necessary and as a part of the predetermined rhythm of paddling the SUP. Also like a canoe paddle there are three main parts of a SUP paddle: handle, shaft, and throat. Unlike a canoe paddle, a SUP paddle is obviously very long and contains some other features that are unique to that fact.
Here is a basic list and description of each of these components, features, and parts of a SUP paddle.
SUP Paddle Handle
The handle of a SUP paddle is very simply the part of the top of the paddle that the paddler holds onto. This can be in the shape of a “T,” an oval or ball, or some other contoured surface that is easy to grip with the top hand. The T-handle is the most popular and available; however, in choosing a SUP paddle, the handle configuration is mainly a matter of preference and comfort.
SUP Paddle Blade
The blade of a SUP paddle is the part of the paddle that propels the paddleboard through the water during a stroke. Like a canoe paddle, a SUP paddle only has one blade. There are many design features incorporated into the design of the SUP paddle blade such as the curvature of the face of the blade, the shape of the blade from the throat to the tip, and the degree to which it is angled from the shaft. While there is a reason for all of these design features it all comes down to preference when choosing a standup paddleboard paddle blade type.
SUP Paddle Shaft
The shaft is the long part of the SUP paddle that connects the handle down to the blade. While the top hand is on the handle, the bottom hand holds onto the shaft.
SUP Paddle Throat
The throat is the area of the paddle where the shaft and blade meet. This area can have a slight bend in it to compensate for lift in the paddleboard during the power phase of the paddle stroke.
The face of a SUP paddle is the side of the blade that pulls through the water during the power phase of a forward stroke. These are often contoured to be concave to grab and hold as much water through the stroke as it can.
The shoulder of a SUP paddle is the angle at which the blade goes from the shaft to the widest part of the paddle. Unlike in kayak and canoe paddles where the width of the blade is often wide at the shoulders, SUP paddles start off narrow at the shoulders and gradually widen. This helps the paddle blade not to contact the SUP board as the paddle is pulled through the water along the board.
SUP Paddle Adjuster
Some standup paddleboard paddles are adjustable to accommodate the different height of the people using the paddle. This is usually accomplished through a push button that is depressed and the two parts of the paddle slide apart. The paddle adjuster is usually located up near the handle, causing less stress on this joint.