I've got to come clean- I've flip flopped on a few paddle surfing related items over the last year. Here's the first in my series of personal flip/flops:
Top Photo: Kiwi out this morning- I call this photo, "Noise" seems like there's a lot going on birds, bottom turns, barneys... it's noisy.
1. Electrician's mastic on the edge of the paddle: I used to come out with these really strong opinions about how you can't feel the difference between taped and non-taped paddles. I think I may have been seriously wrong on that one. A few days ago I picked up a new Quick Blade paddle and, because the surf was firing, I got right out into the water before I had a chance to tape it up.
Bottom Photo: Now is the season to learn to stand up paddle surf! Sign up for a stand up paddle surf lesson and be happy! Or, if you've got the skills- rent paddle surf equipment right here in San Diego- I'll deliver it to you!
Guess what? You can feel the difference! Not so much in the release but in the catch. The blade just feels like it's got more bite to it- catch is the wrong word for it- it's more like a grab. I don't know, it could just be the paddle, but it just feels fast. I don't think I'm going to wrap this one- I really like how clean it feels.
But... I think the electrician's mastic wrap definitely does have its place. First of all, if you're a beginner you'll save your rails, prevent dings, and if your board is a molded product, you'll reduce the notorious paint chipping disease that comes from paddle knocks. Once you've got some paddle handling experience, you won't hit the rails of your board as often- and you won't need to wrap your blade. Unless you're Mondfrans, but that's a different story.
And... I think the electrician's wrap may just be a smart idea from a safety point of view. Last week, as I was pulling into the tube, the whole wave shut down on me and basically blew me off my board. Stuff went everywhere. The blade ended up wacking me across my shins- edge first. The hit was hard enough to make me really nervous about feeling around down there. Fortunately, the paddle I was using had a wrapped blade and I got away with a nasty bruise.
I can't say that the mastic was the factor that saved me from being filleted but I don't doubt that it helped in some way. I've seen some nasty fin cuts in my years in the water. Some of them happen for obvious reasons, one surfer running over another, for example. Others, though, occur under weird circumstances. I've seen surfers come out with bloody gashes under their wetsuits- without even cutting the wetsuit.
Weird things also happen when you're swinging around a six foot, carbon fiber blade, in firing, overhead barrels (or, actually, two foot mushball waves, which are where most injuries occur believe it or not). You may think the paddle just nicked you but on closer examination you might find something that turns your stomach. Fins may be slightly sharper than paddle edges, but not by a huge margin. And if a fin can gut you so can the edge of your blade.
The moral of the story may be this: If I'm at home I'll used a mastic-less blade. I'm at the point where I'm not banging my rails and I like how clean the bare blade feels. But if I travel to a third world wave, or an out in the boondocks bombora, I'm going to use a wrapped paddle. I don't savor the idea of having to drive hours for emergency care or biting down on a wood stick while my friend sews me up with dental floss (I guess that's why I pack gel-Krazy Glue in my First Aid kit- but still).