Dave Samuel the man behind Brighton's Paddle Round the Pier festival has been looking for something different to do on his skate board. He saw a Kahuna Creations Big Stick and decided the combination of Stand Up Paddle and skateboarding was something he had to try. Dave tells us about it:
I saw the big stick on the internet over a year ago and initially was rather dubious – what’s the point when I’d rather be out ocean-paddling? Then more recently I saw some inspiring footage of legend “Buttons Kaluhiokalani” using one on You-tube and like any self respecting man then thought Mmm... another toy? Why the hell not!
After speaking to the US manufacturers I hooked up with Jason from AlohaUK who are the UK distributors. Jason took the time to come over and show me all three variations of the Big Stick but I thought I would be able to give a more honest review by taking the “regular” entry level model away with me which retails at £84.99
Who’s it aimed at?
Well it stands to reason the SUP market but also the more mature skater.
I’ve had to limit my skateboarding to the odd 15 minute session over recent years due to an old ankle injury. By using the “Big Stick” I hardly ever had to put my foot down (going up steep hills it seems is the only time I needed to use both paddle and foot!). For the SUP enthusiast the paddling stroke is very similar to that used on the water. A word of warning – be careful not to put the rubber-end of the paddle too close to the front wheels on the deck or you’ll be getting unwelcome and unexpected frontal –air!
At one end of the Stick is a T-bar style handle and the “Paddle” end is covered by a 4” bar with solid rubber washers on it. So you have a 4” platform with which to push-off from.
Straight away you notice how much faster you travel compared to punting with your foot. For every 5 “punts” with a foot you only need one paddle stroke. It’s also obviously much faster than any SUP but the stoke and stroke feels very similar indeed. The stance is more surf-style than parallel paddling stance which is great practise for all you Surf SUP riders out there but you can easily paddle the Big Stick on both sides - either across your body or switch-foot (A slightly wider skateboard deck makes this more comfortable).
The leverage you get when carving deep turns by leaning into the paddle is amazing and feels just like a sweeping drop-knee-turn on your back hand in the water. It gives you a lot of confidence in taking deeper turns than you would normally take as you use it as an axis and turn around/off it. I was desperate for a water paddle this last weekend but just couldn’t spare the time so I decided to have a quick go on the skateboard and Big Sick. I covered 4 miles in just 20 minutes! It’s a real workout as you pump the stick into the ground and compared to water paddling feels harder work but then you’re also covering so much more ground!
A 20 minute work-out on the water and I haven’t even broken a sweat as I need to be paddling at least 45/50 minutes to feel any benefit, whereas with the big stick you get the same work-out in a third of the time. I also did the school run on Friday. My son on his BMX and me paddling alongside - He only just kept up!
Having seen the other variations the more expensive bamboo version would make distance runs a dream because it has double the flex of my spruce Stick. I’m sure the added propulsion this would give would be a lot of fun but at a RRP of £129.99, it isn’t cheap. Then there is the middle ground – the more attractive of the three - the “Classic” which is covered with fibreglass and comes with a floral print wrap around the ankle of the stick and up the first third.
Because of the way I paddle my “Water” SUP over distance (using my bottom hand as a “rowlock” to rotate the paddle to minimise effort) I found that this brings the end of the big stick out quite wide betweens strokes -resulting in me hitting a couple of railings, lamp posts and Zimmer frames as I sped past. Having the fibreglass wrap would have eliminated the problem of me keep taking chunks out of the ankle of the stick – I made need to retro fit one of these myself now as one week in and I have really hammered the end!
When would you use one?
Fitness, it’s a great workout
On those cold winter days when you just can’t be bothered to add the neoprene but want the same feeling as a SUP paddle
A great way of re-using that old skateboard4) Simply for fun- it’s a great idea which actually works and allows you to practise your SUP skills on dry land – you can even go barefoot in the summer as you need never put your food down!
Could I have made my own? Yes probably, but it wouldn’t have the finesse that Kahuna Creations have added to these three great additions to any SUP enthusiasts’ arsenal. But then there’s the cost as a lot of people I have spoken to have balked at the idea of spending £129.99 on a Paddle for skateboarding. However think realistically, that’s only the same price as a basic level SUP paddle.
Everyone I have shown it to so far has first laughed then been surprised at just how much fun they are. I believe that AlohaUk are in the process of setting up a “Landpaddling association” to run actual events - which would be great to have running alongside regular SUP events. Give it a go – anyone into SUP will enjoy it I guarantee it! It’ll put a smile on your face and get those cobwebs off your skateboard.
Try the whole collection of Kahuna Creations Big Sticks and their attractive Skateboard range at this years’ Paddle Round The Pier beach Festival on July 3rd & 4th.