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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.