2013 Dragon Boat Paddle Comparisons

It’s been 4 years

since my last survey of dragon boat paddles available to athletes the world round.  With the growing popularity of dragon boat, changes in IDBF paddle dimension allowances, and improvements in manufacturing processes, some brands have flourished and others have faded away.  New philosophies in paddling performance and function have lead to many innovative products.

I’ve scoured the internet to find published prices and updated information on each paddle model from the manufacturer whenever possible.  If there is a major brand I’ve left out, please let me know and I’ll look into it!

Without further ado, here is the 2013 Dragon Boat Paddle Comparison List!

Paddle Comparisons

For those of you who are considering buying a new paddle, here’s a list of makes/models (albeit from a few yrs ago).  It gives a good rundown of what’s out there even today.

(some notable brands that I know have new paddles not included here are Merlin, Burnwater, ZRE, and Kialoa)

Shoulder & Back Exercises

Here’s another guide courtesy of the Mt. Home Canoe Club, the team that, in the past, put up ridiculous times (faster than 2:20.00!!) at the Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race. These are simple exercises that do not require weights, so they’re perfect for you ladies who “ew don’t want to get muscular and manly!”

Check out the full doc here, and in the docs section.

Strength Training Guide

As the off-season officially begins for the mixed crew, I’m sure a number of you are wondering how you can get your game on in the meantime.

First and foremost, I want to point out that this guide is simply a resource you can use if you wish to. It was mainly created for outrigger canoe paddlers, but translates over to dragon boating as well. The guide can be a helpful tool for those who want to plan out their strength training regimen for various reasons; specifically, injury prevention and performance enhancement.

The workouts target specific muscle groups due to their function in paddling:

muscle groups - function in outrigger

The guide also has a program design to maximize the training, in order to minimize the risk of overtraining. It was written by an Australian trainer; luckily, our own dragon boat season runs around the same time of the year, so its easily and seamlessly translated as a yearly model. Even if you do not want to use it as a yearly training model, there are still plenty of good workouts and ideas offered by the document.

Click here to check out the full doc!

The Hickox Code

Here’s another resource to checkout:

hickox code

… which you can now find in the Docs section. Here’s a particular section that we want the college boat to focus on (the ready position and the catch):

hickox code - catch

Nevermind the typos that make it sound like a leprechaun wrote it, its good stuff. Notes:

  • “Firming” the body after the relatively relaxed recovery phase
  • Heightened awareness as you watch for timing, with a slight pause as you get full extension
  • Full ready position with the A-frame (some of you might know it as the “power triangle”); in the SFL-modified A-frame, we believe that a slightly bent top arm (somewhat straight, but slightly bent to help you apply downward force with your top arm elbow) will help your drive phase
  • Drive the paddle into the water with a clean entry before you initiate the pull

Remember: you can’t have a powerful drive phase if you don’t have water behind your paddle to begin with.

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.