Ok, this may sound like a “sell out” type post or a sponsored post but it’s not, it’s a fell in love type post. When I got into paddling heavy I realized how important having a proper paddle is. When I bought my first kayak I had spent so much money on the kayak I forgot about the costs of paddles. I just could not choke down the fact that good paddles are very expensive. Yes, you can get a durable paddle for around 65.00 bucks but it is a little on the heavy side. Great for day trips and those float trips where libations may be the adventure of the day, but for someone that wanted to do long trips and trips on open water these paddles just would not work for me. When I was able to afford a better paddle I went down to Ozark Mountain Trading and purchased an Adventure Technology pursuit paddle. At the time I had a Jackson Ibis “Sit In” style kayak and the pursuit was great because it had a narrow blade and made fatigue an afterthought. As the next year went by I wanted to start fishing a little more plus My wife and I had plans to move to southern Florida. Though the Ibis would have worked great in the canals and bay areas of where we wanted to move I did not feel comfortable in a 12 foot boat if I was going to go out into deeper waters. So I went back down to Ozark Mountain Trading and upgraded to a Jackson Kraken, fitting since I was going to live so close the Caribbean. This boat was 15.5 ft long , had all the bells and whistles any fisherman could ask for, I was excited to get it on the water. When I put the boat in the water and started paddling I noticed how inefficient the paddle was trying to push that big boat through the water. Time to upgrade paddles. I went back down to the kayak shop to look at a better AT paddle and noticed they had changed brands . They started carrying Bending Branches and Aqua Bound paddles. I had heard of Bending Branches growing up on the Mississippi River and I have used them however, I had never heard of Aqua Bound. Jaden the manager told me that they are a sister company of Bending Branches and are a very good paddle. Well, I ended up taking a chance and bought the Aqua Bound “Manta Ray” paddle. This thing was as light as a feather, had a huge broad blade I knew would move a ton of water and it was not that expensive. The chance I took ended up being one of the best paddling purchases I have ever made. I have beat the living hell out of my Manta Ray, ran it over, flew off my truck at 70mph and digs into rocks every single time I use it. Now, I would not recommend all this abuse but it is a test on how durable they are.
A “liking” of a simple paddle is one thing but to fall in love with the company is another. Back in may of 2016 this whole Two Board Dudes thing started and knowing that I was going to be transitioning over to a life of SUP it was only right knowing I was going to need a good paddle. I also knew where I would be able to get that right paddle, Ozark Mountain Trading. Well, by this time I had been working for OMTC since March of 16′ so it was kind of mentally forced on me that I would be using an Aqua Bound SUP paddle. Little did I know that a simple email to Bending Branches/Aqua Bound would lead into a pretty cool relationship. Shortly after sending an email to them explaining what I was doing and how my good friend was going to help me change my life I got a reply from a gentleman by the name of Andrew. Andrew read Shane and I’s story and I think it made him a little sappy. With a few replies to each other Andrew told me that he would love to share our story with the BB/AB world. I was floored, I had never had a company want to help me spread my story as well as support it. Shane told me that I would be on my new SUP board he was building by June, well June came and went due to Shane’s company “Sup St Louis” having a very busy year plus he was training for races and building a few other boards he needed to get done. This was no big deal. Also in June Andrew told me that Aqua Bound was going to release a new SUP paddle that was going to be lighter than any other SUP Paddles they have produced and it was going to be made out of carbon fiber so I knew it was going to be durable. Around the first weekend in September I recieved a really long box on my doorstep, I picked it up and took it in my shop and low and behold it was the new “MALTA” paddle from Aqua Bound. Man, this thing was light and shiny and just plain awesome. The only problem was no board to use it on, at least until October 22nd when Shane drove down to Table Rock Lake for our 24 hour Hobie Rally. As he pulled in I seen this big beautiful paddleboard strapped to the roof of his small truck. Makuahine’ had arrived and I was FINALLY going to be able to stand up and start this journey of SUP Life. Saturday morning I grabbed that board and pulled the Malta out of my truck and I headed for the water. After a few moments of thinking I was going to take a dip I dug that paddle in the water and it was TOTALLY worth the wait. My best friend and a factory rep I have never met in person had helped me begin my journey. Words can’t describe being able to do something you have always wanted to do for the first time. My feet hurt, it was choppy out but I was on cloud nine. The Malta is so lightweight that you almost forget you’re holding this mutant canoe paddle that was taller than me. I could not have been happier than I was standing up on the water and feeling that I have a new sport on the water I was going to be addicted to. Since then I have not been able to get many photos of me on Makuahine’ or using the Malta because when I got the board it was not 100% finished. Shane still needs to make it pretty with some final buffing and coating. This is okay because winter is approaching and it’s much warmer sitting in my Kayak on a cold winter day. Obviously this story is far from over and my love for Aqua Bound will grow even stronger. I can’t really put into words how thankful I am that a company out of Wisconsin has given me such a great gift that will be a huge part on my journey to become an ultra distance paddler. My first race will be the 2017 MR 340, which is a 340 mile race on the Missouri river from Kansas City to St Charles Mo, yup, might as well make my first race one of the longest races in the world. We will be racing a first of it’s kind “8 person” catamaran style SUP board with Shane as captain using his Malta as well.
A huge thank you to: