We have been developing a raftracing paddle in conjunction with the Petawawa Raft Team. This spring we got a prototype out there to test out in training runs. We developed a new manufacturing process to make the blades as strong and light as possible. The blades incorporate a hollow bubble in the middle of the blade to provide the stifness without adding weight. The shaft extends down into the bubble to provide a tie between front and back faces.
The bubble is made in a separate pair of moulds, with the shaft shaped so that it will fit exactly inside the cavity. We are using all-carbon shafts specially made for us by Skypole in California. The bubble mould is shaped so that the resulting bubble will fit exactly inside the blade moulds.
Once the bubble has been trimmed and released from it's mould, the blade is laid up in two halves, on a matching pair of moulds. The bubble, and shaped Dynel tip is sandwiched between the two moulds and clamped together to set.
The first blade out of the mould. We deliberately made this one nice and light, so see if it would stand up to some abuse. The blade is quite large, so it can be cut down to suit particular paddlers, styles or preferences.