When I first got into standup paddle racing, I didn’t know what I was doing. As a crossover cross-country and track athlete, I thought paddling worked like my previous sport: you paddle harder and you go faster. While this is indeed true, I quickly came to learn that having the right type of board under your feet was essential and soon invested in a raceboard. For years I denied the necessity of a race paddle but last year, I finally bit the bullet and got my hands on a Black Hydro Texcarbon Race Paddle. Let me just tell you, this paddle is fast.
The Nuts & Bolts
Black Project advertises the Hydro as their lightest, strongest, and most technically advanced paddle yet. In an effort to correct poor alignment and combat fatigue and injury, the paddle features a deep Scooped Dihedral shape that holds the water firmly through the power phase, resulting in smooth and efficient strokes.
Due to its shallow 8-degrees blade angle, the blade is shorter than most, allowing paddlers to paddle more aggressively and efficiently. The front side of the blade features a small ridge, allowing for increased strength and enhanced stability.
Another standout feature of Hyrdro paddle is that it is constructed from a Texalium and Carbon shaft. The Texalium has incredible impact resistance, meaning it can hold its own when matched up against shoreline rocks or rough baggage handlers. The textured Texalim shaft allows for a secure grip, while the silver finish works to reflect UV rays, keeping your paddle cool and protected from premature sun damage. The paddle is available in both a standard (29mm) shaft and a slim (26.5mm), to accommodate different preferences.
Thoughtful features include smooth blade edges and a slim-line joint system to reduce drag and prevent damage to your board’s rails. Black Project claims their paddle is the lightest on the market, weighing in at 25-50 grams lighter than traditional race paddles. Available in seven blade options and five shaft options, the Hydro Texcarbon caters to paddlers of all sizes and ability levels.
When I first received my Hydro Texcarbon paddle, my out of the box impression was that it was light and sleek. My initial impression upon taking it on the water was that it was fast!
Ringing in at 5’7” and 125 pounds, I am a tall, slim paddler. I appreciate the lightweight and smaller design of the paddle and found that it fared well on both flat water and in the surf. As a newer paddler, the smoothed edges proved to be essential, as I find myself bumping my rails from time to time.
Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz
Although I have yet to experience any standup paddling injuries, I was plagued with injuries most of my running career and hope to avoid a similar pattern with paddling. I appreciate that the paddle is designed to help correct your paddle stroke in an effort to ward off unnecessary ailments.
Without being overtly familiar with the technical features that constitute a good race paddle, I am very impressed with the Black Project Hydro Texcarbon paddle. It is everything I want in a paddle in more and makes me excited to get on the water each day. Top that with the fact that it is the paddle of choice for world champion athletes Seychelle, Olivia Piana, Christian Anderson, and Rai Taguchi – it’s safe to say this is a paddle that has earned its salt.