Kialoa Paddles was founded in 1990 by Oahu native Dave Chun and his wife Meg as an extension of Dave’s passion for outrigger canoe racing. While the company’s name translates to swift, fast canoe in Hawaiian, Dave’s inspiration for choosing the name can be traced back to a childhood memory of a sailboat, the Kialoa II, which he once saw as an eight year old boy in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor while on a walk with his father.
Up until 2001, all of their paddles were made from wood. At that point, Dave began working with carbon fiber and later crafted his first stand up paddle for Laird Hamilton in 2003. The Hulu Double Bend stand up paddle is Dave’s latest contribution to the evolution of designs and technology employed by top paddle makers in the industry. Double Bend paddles in and of themselves have been used in the outrigger canoe community for some time. Kialoa’s Hulu Double Bend draws from this legacy through a collaborative effort between Dave Chun, Stephen Leary, PT, along with a number of elite racers and coaches from the outrigger and stand up paddling communities.
Kialoa Hulu Double Bend
- A greater blade angle keeps the blade straight up and down in the power phase for a longer period of time. Another way to say this is that it allows the paddler to keep the blade straight up and down in the water longer, which is when the paddle is most efficient.
- The double bend at the top of the shaft facilitates a bend to the elbow in the top arm, which puts the shoulder in a more ergonomic position stabilizing and connecting the shoulder to the body.
- The double bend also facilitates a neutral wrist position on the bottom hand, which can reduce overuse injuries in the elbow and allows you to hold the “main shaft” slightly more upright.
- Creates overall joint stabilization and connection to the core allowing you to paddle more with your larger muscle groups.
The Kialoa Hulu Double Bend (small) SUP paddle is readily distinguished by the 7.5 degree bend in the upper section of the shaft and 16.5 degree angle of the paddle’s 87 sq/in carbon/epoxy blade. The paddle has a round carbon fiber shaft capped by Kialoa’s Carbon Ergo-T™ handle.
As stated earlier, the blade breaks from the shaft at a 16.5 degree angle and contains a dihedral on both its forward and rear facing surfaces. The forward facing dihedral is quite pronounced, particularly compared to the subtle curves of it’s sibling on the blade’s rear facing surface. Kialoa shaped a gentle lip at the tip of the teardrop shaped blade to round out the paddle’s unique features.
The Hulu Double Bend takes a little getting used to and lacks the instant “wow” factor found in a paddle such as the Quickblade V Drive. Nevertheless, Kialoa’s latest offering is designed with purpose and once you learn how to use the paddle as we feel its maker likely intended, there are positive attributes to be found.
The Hulu Double Bend’s roots are undeniably traced to the outrigger canoe community. It’s 16.5 degree blade angle combined with the 7.5 degree angle of the bent shaft compels you to maintain a technically efficient form in order to use the paddle to its maximum potential. As soon as your form and technique falter, the paddle’s performance drops in a manner that is perhaps more readily identifiable than models without a double bend and as great of an angle in the blade. As such, we found the paddle worked best when maintaining what could be characterized as an exaggerated outrigger style stroke. Employ a long, extended reach. To paraphrase Dave Kalama, imaging a $100 bill is floating out in front of you…and then reach past it.
We tested the Kialoa Hulu Double Bend in flat water and open ocean chop, short sprints and longer paddles. Based on our testing, the design seems to lend itself best for longer paddles where you can settle into a methodical cadence as opposed to the short rapid strokes commonly employed when sprinting.
Kialoa’s round shaft is comfortable and has a nice amount of flex. Similarly, the Carbon Ergo-T™ handle has a secure fit in the palm of your hand.
Kialoa’s Hulu Double Bend is a well made product from one of the stand up paddle community’s core paddle makers. As indicated in the performance section, we feel the Hulu Double Bend lends itself best to distance racing in order to fully take advantage of the paddle’s design features. Stand up paddle racers transitioning from the outrigger canoe community will no doubt have a higher degree of familiarity with double bend paddles and may have an advantage when it comes to using the Hulu Double Bend. Even so, technically proficient racers accustomed to paddling with an extended stoke will draw a benefit as well.
Feature Photo: Kenny Kaneko running with a Kialoa Hulu Double Bend at the 2014 Battle of the Paddle-California. Photo, OnIt Pro
Disclaimer: Kialoa provided SUP Examiner with a sample Hulu Double Bend for review, however, the opinions expressed are our own.