Paddle Reviews

paddles“Yes my precious, its only a matter of time until we combine forces to take over the world…”

I know a bunch of you might be shopping for a new paddle (specifically those looking to upgrade to a carbon fiber), but before you jump ahead and make that decision, I wanted to give y’all some more info about the paddles that are available.

First off, a question that we hear a lot is: “How do you know what is the right paddle size for you?” Here’s a link to a simple measurement guide, courtesy of Dragonboat Blog (you can also now find this in the docs section).

Dragonboat Blog also has a paddle reviews section that you should check out. Seeing as how our distributor sells Grey Owl Jets and ZRE Dragons, I would personally pay the extra $10 for the ZRE. While the Grey Owl Jet is a nice upgrade from a standard wooden Grey Owl High-Performance paddle that most of us use in the beginning, my preference is based on the following:

  1. ZRE carbons are lighter (at ~15oz). Apparently, the Grey Owl Jet is one of the heaviest carbons in the market (~20oz). Derek has a ZRE and I have a Jet; its a world of difference in regards to weight.
  2. The Grey Owl Jet has a weird laminated finish on the shaft that makes it more difficult to grip for your bottom hand. A crapton of tape can help alleviate the issue, but I’d personally much rather have a paddle with a nice finish.
  3. ZRE offers different top hand grips: wooden T, carbon palm grip, carbon T, and even plastic palm.

Another good carbon fiber paddle to get is the Merlin CD2, which you can purchase on your own for about $10 less than a Grey Owl Jet. The Merlin CD2 is one of the lightest carbon fiber paddles available, at ~14oz.

As far as Burnwater paddles goes: they used to be top of the line carbon fiber paddles, even endorsed by the Australian National Dragonboat Team at one point, but the quality of their paddles dropped in 2006 when they changed the core of the paddle, manufacturing processes, and materials due to EPA regulations. Quite a few people are having issues with these newer versions, but once they work out the kinks, future models are definitely something to look out for.

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3 responses

  1. ck

    hey brianimal~
    awesome breakdown of carbon fibers. can you also address wooden v. carbon fiber and when is the best time to get a carbon fiber, ie: noobs should not get a carbon fiber until they’ve mastered their stroke, approx. 1-2 years time.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    • brianimal

      carbon fiber paddles use materials that are both lightweight and very durable. the ZREs, for example, use the same carbon fiber they use in formula 1 grand prix race cars. also, the weight difference isn’t to be ignored: a 4 oz difference, at 70 strokes per minute, means you’re lifting 1,050 less lbs in one hour (hahahaha, if you’re going at 70spm for an entire hour, that is)… it’ll be something like a total of 40ish lbs in one race piece, i think. going with a carbon fiber means less fatigue and paddling with buff spage-age materials. its supposed to take a lot to break these durable badasses (like driving over it with a car), but we’ve seen a few exceptions over the past few years…

      the wood high-performance paddles are really good and can last you a really long time. i’d say that getting a carbon fiber ultimately depends on an individual’s commitment level; $200 is quite an investment. when you’re starting out, i’d say its better to stick with a wooden for a year or two at least to master paddle control and to develop those dragonboat muscles. also, when you get more serious, you’d probably play around with paddle length more to find something you’re more comfortable with. for example, here’s how the us national dragon boat team does sizing:

      http://www.usadragonboating.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=149

      hahaha.. crazy, huh?

      July 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      • GF

        Hey Brianimal and CK,
        <–That's a weird logo that appears by my name. Carbon fiber is very resilient by design but their Achilles' Heel also comes from their construction. Because they are basically resin (glue) over a carbon weave surrounding a foam core, they are prone to cracking. Brian'll remember this one, but a former teammate had a small hole punched into his blade and the foam soaked up a bunch of water.

        Good point about training your muscles in working up to a carbon fiber. While it's lighter, I've heard the stiffness can contribute to increased risk of shoulder strains. That is unless you've got strong rotator cuff muscles to control the power applied to the paddle, which comes from experience and conditioning.

        I think paddlers should also ask themselves if a carbon fiber will really make them better. There's no substitute for solid physical conditioning.

        July 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

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