Updated: Jun 12, 2019
If you have watched or participated in a marathon canoe race in recent years I can assure you that you have seen a ZRE Power Surge paddle. This is the most widely used paddle on the market and for good reason. Almost every canoe in the front pack of the major races is using this paddle. Today I thought I would lay out some of the features of this paddle and some of the different options and variations you might have seen out on the water to help guide you if you are newer to the marathon racing paddle scene.
The Basic design of this paddle is a 3 piece construction with the 3 pieces consisting of the blade, shaft, and handle. Both the blade and the handle are made out of carbon fiber cloth and epoxy construction and the shafts are made out of pre-impregnated carbon fiber. The grip is a hollow grip designed to fit comfortably in your palm with their ergonomic dimple pattern and finger recess. The shafts are pre-peg which means they do not have the same appearance as traditional carbon fiber and are completely smooth. Pre-preg carbon will be the lightest and strongest material available today for paddle construction. These shafts are also tapered and oval for increased strength and positive tracking. The blades are made with a foam core and carbon fiber cloth and epoxy making them light and stiff.
The big difference with the Power Surge model is the blade design. This paddle design was a collaboration of some of the best paddlers ever known to the sport including Serge Corbin, Bob Zaveral, and Greg Barton. The design features a slight rib down the middle of the power face to help keep the paddle moving straight through the water. It also has a slight concave power face that is designed to improve the catch of the blade in the water.
The Power Surge comes standard with a 12 degree angled shaft with a standard blade width of 8 inches and length of 18 inches. The shaft angle can be customized from 0-15 degrees and the blade width from 7 1/2 to 8 3/8. This design also comes in 4 different weights, these are Xtreme 10.5oz, Medium 10oz, Light 8oz, and Pro 7oz. The difference in weight comes down mainly from the different carbon fiber cloth that is used for the paddle blade.
When choosing your options for this paddle I will provide some basic guidance that should help the novice paddler. In general, the lighter the paddle the less resilient it will be to taking a beating on the river bed. With that being said, if you primarily paddle on lakes and deep canals as I do you the lighter paddle will have an advantage because you will be lifting much less as you should be using a stroke rate well over 50 strokes a minute. If you are paddling on shallow rivers such as the water in the start and sprint of the Ausable River Canoe Marathon or multiple sections of the General Clinton 70 miler, you may want a sturdier blade that can withstand the occasional hitting of the river bed or rocks.
The other 2 main options you will have are bend angle and blade width. Generally I would suggest sticking with the 12 degree shaft bend as that is pretty much the standard across the racing world currently and if you end up buying any used paddles they will most likely have this angle.
When picking a blade width there are a couple of considerations to take into account. First, how powerful of a paddler are you? The lighter that you are the more likely you can get away with a slightly narrow blade that will be easier on your muscular system in the long run. Conversely, if you are larger and more powerful you might be able to handle the wider blades. Generally most paddlers decide to use a narrower blade for long efforts as again it will be easier on your muscular system and you should feel less fatigue with a smaller blade face. This is the one area that I think ones technique can also play a role in the blade width you can get by with so try a couple if you have the chance.
So the next time you find yourself at a race take a look around and I'm sure you will see your fair share of Power Surge paddles out there!
If your now looking to get your hands on a new power Surge, just go to http://www.zre.com/ to order one or to find a local dealer near you.