We first came across Aquabound’s Manta Ray carbon touring paddle when we visited the Isle of Spice (Grenada) in 2014. Conservation Kayak, the company who guided us around Woburn Bay and Hog Island (see article here – www.sitons.com/articles/spice-island-kayaking-grenadian-paddling-vibes/), have a kit locker full of Aquabound Manta Ray paddles – needless to say we felt we should give one of these babies a more thorough going over.
The Manta Ray is a sleek looking engine with an all carbon shaft, three hole snap button Posi-Lok ferrule system and high angle blade. A pronounced dihedral runs along the spine of the blade, which kills all paddle flutter, and the whole product feels lightweight and balanced in the hands. Being able to adjust the Manta Ray’s feather is an easy to accomplish operation – a definite tick in the box. The Manta Ray is applicable to a broad range of sit on top kayakers. We were looking forward to popping the Aquabound’s cherry.
Having set shaft length and blade feather we hopped aboard and began spooning out towards the offshore sand bank – the main feature of our local put in. The Manta Ray is a joy to use and slices through the air and water extremely efficiently. From catch to recovery it’s a breeze shifting water. Put the hammer down and the you can red line your siton easily. Back off the gas a little and easy relaxed paddling comes to the fore – even with the high blade angle.
The Manta Ray’s full carbon shaft is on the semi stiff side of things – as such it gives a slight degree of flex which ensures no undue stresses and strains are placed on joints. This isn’t to say the Manta Ray is a slouch when it comes to speed, in fact the truth is quite the opposite. Rapid strokes drive whatever sit on top you happen to be perched forwards with decent levels of thrust. Covering the mile or so distance from put in to outer sand bank was therefore accomplished quick smart.
We used the Aquabound Manta Ray with a number of different boats – Perception Kayaks Europe’s Triumph 13, Tootega’s Kinetic 100, Fatyak’s Surf and Islander’s Calypso Sport. This meant each sled dictated the type of paddling we would be doing. Covering distance was a doddle with no fatigue felt at any time while playing about in waves, where lightning fast rail to rail changes of stroke are needed, was also achievable. This proves that even though the Manta Ray is billed as touring paddle it easily straddles spectrums of sit on kayaking and therefore is applicable to a wide audience.
The whole Sitons team has loved using the Aquabound Manta Ray paddle. From its incremental adjustment control, where you can set the paddle for various paddling scenarios, to its simplistic but efficient ease of use, this is one sit on kayak paddle we highly recommend. For affordable paddle performance, from a brand that knows its kayaking onions, it doesn’t get much better.