Ever snapped a leash in bone-crushing barrels? Cracked the collar on your adjustable paddle halfway into a channel-crossing? Ever slipped and sandwiched your GoPro between body and board, effectively busting your shutter and your sled in the same, sorry spill? Don’t worry, radical paddler; it happens to the best of us. SUP’s theory: if you never break anything, you’re probably just not paddling hard enough.
Gear malfunction—it really does happen to the best of us. Sometimes it’s the gear’s fault. Other times, it’s the operator’s. And pretty much every time, it’s a major bummer. So, to remind you that you’re not alone in the realm of gear-gone-wrong, we asked a handful of top paddlers to share their worst experiences with gear malfunctions. We took their tales of gear woe, bundled them into one exclusive page and pitted that page in our 2015 Gear Guide, where those tales now sit (on newsstands), sandwiched between pictures and praise representing the finer side of gear—the “gear-gone-right” side—gear we love, revel in, drool over and dream about. Because after all, without the bad, how could we get the good? And if this edition of “Word on the Water” does nothing else for you, at least it lets you know—you’re not alone when our gear fails, even if it is in a bone-crushing barrel.
Hometown: Biddeford, Maine
Occupation: Kayak/SUP instructor
It was 2013 at the North Shore of Oahu. I broke a leash and my friend grabbed my paddle and my board. I drove to the local surf shop and asked for the strongest SUP leash they had. I got back in the water and after taking a nice wave I got caught inside. I dove in and was dragged back until I felt the snap of my brand new leash!
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Occupation: Employee, Moku Surf Shop
Hands down a broken paddle or a heavy water logged paddle!
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: Human Resources Manager
I was visiting a friend in Miami and borrowing equipment just to get on the water for a quick paddle. About twenty minutes in, the wind picked up and then five minutes later the handle of the paddle cracked off. Paddling back up-wind with no handle and a ragged-end shaft was definitely an unplanned adventure.
Hometown: Westerly, Rhode Island
Occupation: Children's music teacher; SUP instructor
A major defect I’ve experienced with my favorite high performance epoxy board was when the paint chipped off more than average on the front, tail and sides. It exposed the board to more sun damage, which lead to cracks that began to let water in.
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
Occupation: Construction Project Coordinator
I had a Thule SUP Taxi incident that led to my board coming off my car and landing in the ditch. I was completely unaware of the need to lock it, thinking it was only for security purposes. Super bad day for me!
Hometown: Juneau, Alaska
Occupation: Retired USCG licensed boat captain
I’ve had some up close experiences with sea lions, humpback whales, nasty currents and high winds to deal with, but my gear has always worked flawlessly.
This feature originally ran in the 2015 Gear Guide.