Exploding carbon paddle!!!

I had a carbon paddle handle actually explode on me this last trip. It was a paddle I have had for several seasons. It happened on the first stroke of the days paddle. It seemed so violent that if there had been a loud noise in conjuncetion I would have thought it had been shot!

Anyone else had this happen?

I had no idea that carbon gives way so violently when it fails!

It is now recut, sanded, and ready for the epoxy. It will be as good as new. Sure was lucky that it was just a few inches below the handle!!! So now it is a 48" instead of the old too long 52".

Happy Paddl’n!



As I understand it, Carbon Fiber is
actually pretty brittle. A hard whack on the paddle shaft could have caused a crack or weakness, resulting in the exploding paddle.

I’ve had that happen
Not on a paddle but on a golf driver. I hit a good hard drive and the shaft exploded. It was a great drive but not worth the cost of the club.

Nature of the beast
About 25 years ago, I worked for a composites manufacturer that specialized in boron fiber, & composites made from combinations of boron, titanium & carbon. Learned a lot working there.

Basically, the stronger & stiffer a material is, the more brittle it is. For example, a bundle of boron fibers that is one square inch across its face is strong enough to lift a railroad car. A child can shatter that same bundle in their bare hands as easy as breaking a twig. That’s why most composites are laid up as combinations of materials in a binding medium such as a resin or epoxy – they get their resiliency from the medium and other materials they are laid up with.

I would assume your paddle sufferred a sharp right angle blow at some time, and the next time a load was placed on the spot where it happened, it shattered. Either that, or the layup was defective. Either way, it will shatter.


Catastrophic Failures

I have heard that the early carbon shafts were known for that. I have seen rental carbon shafts fail after horseplay.

Do you use your paddle as a brace when entering the boat?


I did …
and it sounded like a gunshot when it exploded. Even was an echo. Ended up with a perfectly straight 8" long split on the shaft. In post analysis I was bracing off a sharp pointed rock to re-enter kayak. I suspect that the pressure put on at the single point of contact was way too much for a carbon paddle. Now I enter the boat from the water whenever possible and no longer use a paddle as a brace to enter. Live and learn.


I have…
an all carbon Onno on the way. Pat took into account that I sometimes brace myself when getting in/out of my yak. I try not to use it as a brace but if I do I try to use the least amount of pressure as possible. My goal is to not use the paddle as a brace 100% of the time. Any tips for achieving that goal?

I never have.
How about the name of the manufacturer ???



In & out
You might try a short stick with some padding where it touches your rear deck. I have a DR kayak & I use a concrete dock. With the tight cockpit, it’s tempting to use something, but never my carbon paddles!

I am not mentioning the manufacturer as

I do not believe that this is a manufacturing problem. It is a well used paddle with many seasons on it. I do not baby my gear. The paddle did drop from about 18" inside a paddle sock, inside a paddle bag with other paddles on top of it. I think it received one of those blows that was just right to fatally damage it.

Happy Paddl’n!



i thought i missed you.
I was sitting on the bank with my 22 and fired a shot at your paddle. I thought i missed!



Hey Norm! Sorry did not respond.

Been so busy do not read much of the threads. After a bit I even forget what ones I have been following or even written.

Nope, you did not miss. You got it just fine! ;^)