Submitted: 04-25-2007 by Puppe
Alas, life comes at us with much hyperbole. One needs to meet it with an appropriate level of skepticism, eh? I got a Manta Ray a few months back. NB: It's the older model with the push-button style ferrule. I can not speak to the newer design, so I'll give my impression of the paddle as a whole. Mine is the Carbon shaft/Carbon blade version that weighs about 29 oz.
The fit and finish are generally excellent. My only "beef" is the somewhat cheesy-looking decals Aquabound (hereafter "AB") uses on the blades. The blades themselves are unique. They are slightly asymmetrical (more symmetric than most Euro paddle blades) and have a face that is both a dihedral and spooned. This isn't illustrated in any of the available product literature. It makes for a very agile blade in sculling, drawing and ruddering strokes. AB describes this paddle as an aggressive, high angle stroke tool. That is how I've tried to use it - for sea kayaking.
Advantages: Way cheaper than competing products from other manufacturers (like 1/2 the price of Werner and Lendal's high-end sticks). Blade shape excels at control strokes. Pretty clean entry and low cavitation. Good weight, on the low end of comparables.
Disadvantages: Some blade flutter. No small shaft available (if you need such things). Uncool decals on blades.
Overall, if I followed the apparent standards of most reviewers I'd have to give this at least a "9". I'm giving it a 7 because: It could be lighter, given the materials they used; The AB product blurb says "flutter free", which is optimistic at best; and the push-button ferrule is old school, but it seems that they've discontinued that without a proven successor. Maybe I'll revise that score upwards after using it over time.