In the close-knit community of stand up paddling, there is perhaps no brand with a more loyal and devoted fan base than the one meticulously cultivated over the last quarter century by Quickblade Paddles. Their slogan, “Train Hard, Go Fast, Have Fun”, and iconic QB logo has graced the surface of boards, paddles and apparel in a manner which has enabled the small family business based in Costa Mesa, California to project itself across throughout the industry to the extent that casual onlookers have often mistaken the homegrown paddle maker for a corporate giant.
“I made my first paddle in 1976 when I was 11 and my teacher pin striped it for me. Later during my career as a high kneel canoeist, I enjoyed designing and making my own equipment. My competitors began to take notice and before long I was making their paddles,” said Jim Terrell, the company’s founder. It was not long after that the idea for creating Quickblade began to take root and a garage business, literally, was set up while Jim continued to work full time with lightweight composite materials at his day job in the aerospace industry, before eventually striking out as a full time paddle maker.
No other paddle maker has dedicated the same level of focus to tinkering with the technical design innovation of sculpting a more efficient paddle than Quickblade. The unique blades on the V Drive and Trifecta have made QB the most highly sought after brand by athletes competing at the highest levels around the globe. On the other end of the spectrum from elite paddlers, their timeless Kanaha design continues to be one of the top choices among recreational paddlers years after its creation due to its durability and ease of use. “The thing I love about working with Jim is that there is no silly idea until it has been proven to be a silly idea,” said Travis Grant. “I once asked Jim about some ideas, would this work…would that work and he entertained them all,” he told me while reminiscing about the inception of the Trifecta.
Jim designed and built the majority of the equipment used to make Quickblade’s paddles himself. Quietly tucked away on an industrial development not far from the Newport Aquatic Center where he can often be found paddling a variety of watercraft from high-kneel canoes to stand up paddleboards, Jim leads a small team of craftsman immersed in the art of paddle making. His wife Elizabeth handles the lion’s share of the marketing responsibilities and directs a team of talented photographers who have produced some of the most memorable video edits in the industry.
When he is not designing the next great paddle or on the water testing new designs, the 4x Olympian is among the most highly sought after coaches among paddlers of all ages and abilities. “I still enjoy competing and spending time with the people I have made paddles for,” he said. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge from my paddling career with the people I train and place a high value on the friendships I’ve made over the years.” Jim has coached some of the biggest names in SUP racing and regularly schedules appointments in the Quickblade Flume, an indoor paddling facility with strategically placed mirrors enabling users to monitor their technique, with local paddling clubs and individuals. In addition to the flume, a variety of strength and conditioning equipment is on hand to round out one’s skills.
Fans and supporters of Quickblade Paddles in the stand up paddling community transcend all board manufactures and are found wherever passionate paddlers reside. The past 25 years have been a whirlwind of activity for Quickblade from Olympic Games to Molokai and the BOPs of old. Stand up paddling has brought a new wave of paddlers to the water and there is no doubt QB will continue to evolve with the times and be a fixture throughout the community for years to come.