Thursday, August 26, 2004

Surf's Up: Get a Little Air and Paddle Stronger, Surf Longer

Corky Carroll first wrote about the Original PaddleAir in the Orange County Register on August 26, 2004. Here is reprint of that article.
I love it when somebody comes up with something completely new that really works and has an immediate value to the surfing community. Especially when it is something that I can use and, in fact, really need. Such is the case with a new product not even in stores yet, called "Paddle Air."

Corky Carrol in an original PaddleAir
About a month ago, my pal Herbie Torrens, of the "Paraffin Chronicles" new-book fame, sent me an e-mail raving about a product that Dave Hilts has invented. Dave is a longtime Orange County surf dude who grew up in Huntington Beach and is a fellow Huntington Beach High School alumnus who also was on the first HBHS surf team in in1972.

He also competed on the Western Surfing Association tour and still occasionally enters longboard events.

For most of his life, Dave has worked in the sporting goods industry, including for a major wetsuit company and a surfboard company and has owned his own retail store. So knowing Dave was not just another dude with something to peddle, I was interested in what his invention was.

Herbie said it was a "paddle thing" and that because of my surfing bumps, I should check it out.

In case you have never seen me in person, I should tell you that I have two massive bumps right on top of my rib cage that look exactly like breasts.

I had them removed some years ago and they grew back even bigger within a few months. They are from the contact between my ribs and and my board when I am paddling.

So I got together with Dave, and he turned me onto his new product to try out. Because of the name, I was thinking that this was going to be some sort of glove or something you wore on your hands to make you paddle faster.

But it was way better than that. It is actually a rash guard or a light-weight wetsuit shirt that incorporates a balloon-like pouch in the chest area. It has a tube attached to the back of the neck that allows you to inflate the pouch and adjust it with a really easy-to-use nozzle.

The idea is that a little pocket of air just under your chest area puts you in a slightly better angle for paddling and takes the pressure off your lower back. This relaxes your back muscles, and that can allow you to surf longer and catch more waves -- a good thing.

Almost all surfers who have surfed for a number of years can testify to lower-back problems directly related to paddling. It also gives protection to your rib cage and makes your surfing experience just that more comfortable.

I have to tell you that I was pretty amazed at this. I had been thinking for years that I wish there was some way I could pad my rib cage that would no be a real hassle and look really stupid. God knows I look stupid enough already without having to amplify it with some sort of monster padding strapped around my body.

The next morning, the surf was kinda good right in front of my surf school at Bolsa Chica, and I decided to do the big test. At first I blew the pouch up full and started to paddle out. The bag was too big and it was sort of weird paddling that way.

So I let some air out and continued. It took me about three times to get it just right. It turns out that just a little bit of a cushion is the answer. You hardly notice it, but it is there. I was very comfortable paddling and felt like I was more relaxed at once.

I stayed out for a long session and when I came in, I did not feel the normal soreness of my rib cage surf bumps.

And my back felt fine, too. In short, I was really stoked. This is a really good product and one that is long overdue. It is really easy to use and it makes sense. I can see the benefit for all beginners with this. They will be less sore and be able to last a little longer before wearing out.

It will work for girls or guys. I know that when I teach girls, they all comment on how hard it is on their rib cages. Guys get sore backs easier. This seems to be the answer for both.

And you hardly notice that you have it on. Except for the little air tube, nobody else would have a clue that it not just a normal rash guard or wetsuit shirt.

I am confident that within a short amount of time, you will be able to buy these at your local surf shops. More information is available on the Web site:

I give it five fins up (out of a possible five).
You can check out more from Corky on the OC Register or his website.

No comments:

Post a Comment