This is Why SUP Paddles Are Angled

SUP paddles are available with different angles, varying from 5 to 15 degrees. To any standup paddleboarding fan, these angles can seem confusing at first. Which should you use? Which angle is best? Perhaps the most commonly asked question is: why are SUP paddles angled?

SUP paddles are angled to facilitate an efficient stroke. They use minimal energy to start a stroke since the blades are positioned forward. Angled SUP paddles have less drag, provide more speed, and use less energy than straight ones. 

Angled SUP paddles are one of the greatest innovations in the history of watersports. They didn’t start with SUPs, though. You will learn why SUP paddles are angled, the best use of angled paddles, and more in this article.

Why SUP Paddles Are Angled

Here are three reasons why SUP paddles are angled:

  • The big stroke starts far ahead for faster movement.
  • You use less force to make a stroke, reducing fatigue.
  • You can end the stroke without lifting water.  

To achieve a long powerful stroke, you need to start paddling as far from the front as much as possible. However, with a straight paddle, this would mean straining to move your body forward while bending your back. That’s why the SUP paddles are angled to help you start your stroke ahead with little effort while still achieving a powerful stroke.

This reduction in the paddling effort helps you enjoy paddle boarding more. Angled SUP paddles help you end the stroke efficiently as well. Thanks to the angled design, they slip right out of the water without dragging the paddle by lifting water. 

By facilitating faster movement in powerful strokes through their forward-projected blade, SUP paddles make it easy for you to paddleboard without excess effort. Their unique design leads to overall efficient paddle boarding.

Dave Chun from Kialoa paddles explains why paddles are angled in the following video:

SUP Paddles Weren’t Always Angled

The invention of angled paddles is credited to legendary canoe racer named Eugene Jensen. In 1970, he built a bent shaft paddle to test his theory that it would reduce body strain and increase speed. When his offset paddle won him his next competition, rivals started placing their orders. 

The bent paddle became popular among marathon racers and hobbyists as well. Still today, paddle makers use the design to cater to their broad market, especially in the SUP paddle boarding industry. (Sources: Men’s Journal and Jensen Canoes)

What is the Best Blade Angle?

While there’s a difference in the blade angles for various SUP paddles, the techniques one uses, among other features of your paddleboarding gear, would determine the best experience. 

However, here are the overall paddle angle guidelines:

  • For surfing, take 5-7 degrees.
  • For multipurpose use, choose around 10 degrees.
  • For racing, try 12 degrees or more.

The higher the degrees, the further the start of the stroke, and the higher the power. That’s why racers like to use the sharply bent ones more than others. Most people feel comfortable with their paddle angle at about 10 degrees,whether navigating whitewater or the sea. It’s an average angle both a beginner and a pro can enjoy.

You can experiment with different SUP paddle angles by renting the paddles. This way, you can take them out for a test and eventually purchase one that suits your preferences. You can also use the following recommendations to choose the best SUP paddle for you.

(Source: Rei)

Best SUP Paddles to Choose From

Some SUP paddles have balance features from materials they’re made from to offset the angle. That’s why even manufacturers don’t dwell on talking about the degrees of their paddles and emphasize who they made them for. 

Here are some high-quality angled SUP paddles that you can choose from:

SUP PaddleAngleProficiency
Carbon Fiber ProIntermediate to advanced
Elite 12K BambooAdvanced
Fiberglass Elite10°Beginner
Abahub Aluminum Shaft Paddle10°Beginner and casual
Kerco Fiberglass Travel SUP10°Casual

How to Hold the SUP Paddle the Right Way 

Often, beginners and even intermediate stand up paddle boarders fail to hold the paddle correctly — especially when it comes to the angle of the blade. This defeats the whole purpose of the angle on the blade and makes it hard to paddle altogether.

The following are some steps to help you hold the SUP paddle correctly:

  • Point the blade away from you. 

Ensure that the blade is tilting away from you. The side of the blade that will be facing backward as you try to move forward will be the power face. This means that if you measure the angle of the blade from the shaft, it’ll be less than 20 degrees. Carlo wrote this entire post on the correct ways to hold paddles.

Compare using a SUP paddle to using a spoon in soup. When you’re scooping soup with a spoon, you do it with the concave side because it can lift and carry the soup. If you try to do it with the opposite side, there is no way for it to hold liquid, so it slips and carries no soup. 

With a SUP paddle, you do the opposite of scooping. You use the side that doesn’t lift water, so it will instead push the water while moving you rapidly forward in the process. 

To make things more comfortable as you start, you can put a conspicuous sticker on one side to show you the direction to move. Some paddle makers put their logo on the power face to do the guiding.

  • Adjust your paddle length.

If you wish to paddleboard the right way, you need to use a paddle with a length that fits you. The length of the paddleboard should be slightly longer than your height. 

Here’s how to pull it off:

  1. Put your paddle upright on the ground, in front of you with the blade facing the opposite direction from where you’re standing.
  2. Measure the excess length above your head with your thumb and pinky fingers stretched.

If the excess length is the size of the distance between your thumb and pinky finger when you stretch them, you have the right paddle size.

If not, you need to adjust the length so you can get the correct paddle length. Always choose adjustable shaft paddles so that you can accommodate your height and that of others who might need your paddle.

  • Determine your grip width.

Grip width is the size of the gap between your two hands holding the paddle. You can’t just grab the paddle from anywhere since it’ll be strenuous or make you unstable while paddling.

Here’s how to determine your grip width:

  1. Rest your paddle on your head and relax your hands. 
  2. Move the hand you’ll have on top when paddling to the handle of the paddle.
  3. Move your bottom hand along the shaft so that you achieve right angles at your elbows.

Once you achieve right angles while comfortably resting the paddle on the head with your hands positioned to paddle, you’ll have determined your grip width. And that’s how you hold a paddle correctly!

(Sources: iRockerStarBoard, and ThursoSurf)

Final Word

SUP paddles are made with an angled blade for efficiency. While enabling a fast and powerful stroke, it also ensures that you use as little energy as possible to make it happen. Moreover, you end the stroke smoothly and swiftly since you have no water to carry with the blade. 

This incredible invention by Eugene Jensen was a turning point for both racers and hobbyists. And today, you can choose the best angle for you, depending on your paddleboarding habits.


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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