Examining the Pau Hana Big EZ after a summer of use

After a full season of paddling this Pau Hana Big EZ  board, it’s time to take a hard look at the ricochet material. Pau Hana sells this board as if it can take a hit from a rock, but how true is that? I’ve been paddling this board in some rough areas and carried it over lots of concrete. So what kind of shape is it in?

The board has two cracks. Both happened on dry land. Neither threaten the seaworthiness of the board. They are easily repaired with epoxy. Strangely, the one on the nose happened when I was putting the board on the roof rack. I like to keep the bag on the roof during short paddles, then just slip the board inside when I’m done. I must have pushed it in too hard and the nose hit the crossbar, or something like that. Strange. Either way, I’m surprised it happened. I have no idea how the second crack happened. There are also a couple of places on the side where the paint chipped. This may be because I store the board on its side inside the bag, and the side was hitting the zipper.

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Dinged up rails

With all this, the ricochet material is pretty tough. I don’t know if I’d take this board on a whitewater paddle over rocks, but it’s good enough for the average user. The cracks were minor and didn’t threaten the integrity of the board itself. Ricochet doesn’t add much weight to the board compared to others of its ilk. Unlike say the Tough-Tec Bics, you get the extra durability without really any penalty. (The Tough-Tec boards are very strong, but they do run heavy.)  Under no conditions can you consider this a light board (32 lbs), but it’s not really heavier from any other all-around.

Of bigger concern is the paint. I have never seen a board that delaminated so easily in the sun. I have boards which have spent much more time in the sun than my Pau Hana, and none have as many bubbles in the skin. Despite the many virtues of this board, this is a real problem. A bit of bubbling is understandable — all boards do it — but this is too much. It can be mitigated pretty easily — just keep the board in its bag when you’re not using it — but that presumes a couple of things. Not everyone will buy a bag for their board. And what about the rental fleets? Rental boards are typically left in the sun.

The deck pad has the same problem. It will sometimes balloon when left in hot sun for short amounts of time. The first time this happened there was a blister the size of a grapefruit! I was afraid that I’d have to pop it, but the swelling eventually went down. This is definitely something Pau Hana needs to address. They’ve designed a really nice board that can take a beating but not a sunburn. I’m surprised too this hadn’t shown itself during the product testing. Through the grapevine, I’ve heard of other ricochet boards with these issues, so maybe Pau Hana’s paint has trouble adhering to the new material?

Besides the paint issue, the Big EZ Ricochet is a tough board. Sure it scratches a little, but that’s normal. I appreciate not having to baby it every time I set it down on a hard surface. I want to congratulate Pau Hana for this. It would be great to see more boards made in this material. Pau Hana’s 12’ Endurance is a great step, but maybe have an option for more boards? I would love a 14’ Cadence raceboard made of ricochet. Not everyone wants or needs the fastest and lightest board out there. Some of us just want to cruise without worrying about breaking something. This would be the ultimate touring board: fast, tough, and fun!

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Click here if you missed any of the earlier installments in my One Board Quiver column examining the virtues of the Pau Hana Big EZ and would like to see the background on what I’ve been up to!

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Ian Berger

Ian Berger grew up in love with the ocean, so discovering stand up paddling was a bit of revelation. Once he bought his first paddleboard, he realized this was the sport for him. Ian Berger lives in Peekskill, NY with his wife Kirsten and three children. He teaches middle school English and drama, and also has a passion for writing, which he shares with his students. Every morning Ian wakes up to write — sometimes science fiction or comic Young Adult novels, sometimes plays, but very often about stand up paddling. The Hudson River is his home turf, and you can usually find him there when the weather is good.