Blackfish Paddles are what you would call a specialist company in the outdoor industry. This small outfit based in Phuket, Thailand make only one type of product - carbon SUP paddles. This level of specialization allows an excruciating attention to detail during the fabrication process, which Blackfish Paddles prides itself on. Every step of construction, from the initial epoxy application to the assembly with the handle involves a set of human hands. The result? Beautiful carbon fiber paddles that feel like an extension of your limbs in the water.
Let's take a look to see how the folks at Blackfish Paddles do it.
CNC machined aluminium mould
Each model of Blackfish Paddles (the Nootka, Andaman and Race) has it's own specific mould machined from a single block of aluminium and polished by hand. This allows a smooth finish to the final product, as you'll see later.
Applying the all-important Blackfish Paddles logo, made of Mylar material
Applying an initial layer of epoxy into the mould, the carbon Kevlar carbon weaves are layered on top of one another with the epoxy (applied with a brush) binding each layer of fabric to those around it.
Fiberglass and uni-directional carbon stringers are added along the paddle's axis for strength
Additions such as fiberglass and carbon stringers help reinforce the composite where the greatest loads are expected. On a SUP paddle this is at the neck, where the blade meets the shaft.
A Divinycell foam core is the "meat" in the carbon fiber sandwich. It reduces overall weight while maintaining stiffness
A Divinycell foam sheet sits inside the core of the paddle blade. The strength of the blade comes from the outer Kevlar layers with the core providing adequate stiffness while reducing weight. This sandwich system is also used in aerospace applications. The outer edge of the blade is reinforced with a layer of acrylonitrile butadeiene styrene (ABS), seen as the green foam in the above picture. ABS provides impact resistance and toughness, making sure the paddle can stand up to years of abuse.
Joining the two moulds for curing
A shaft mandrel is inserted (not pictured) before the two halves of the mould are joined, clamped and heated. The epoxy takes approximately 30 minutes to cure and then a further 90 minutes to cool.
Fresh out of the mould with no further polishing needed
After removal from the mould, the blade is trimmed to size on the CNC machine. Handles are made in the same way, hand laid in a mould and cured before bonding to the shaft.
Blackfish Paddles are tested in the waters South East Asia and the Pacific Northwest in every condition from surfing to SUP racing. Custom constructions are available with a range of choices for handles and shafts for your desired choice of blade. Check out their website here.
Our Whistler and Squamish stores have a set of Blackfish Paddles on the way. Come in and see the benefits of hand-crafted carbon SUP paddles for yourself.