Canoe racing- paddle question

do any of you racers use a larger blade paddle for a short race such as a 6 or 8 miler?

I presently use a ZRE, 8-1/4" blade, but have reached the point where I am wondering if I could get a tad more speed without wearing myself out, if I went with a larger blade.


ZRE Power Surge
I decided to go big or go home. I settled for a ZRE Power Surge with a 9.25" Outrigger blade. Bear in mind you will need to upper body mass to use this blade properly. The Power Surge will not allow sloppy stokes and must be immersed completely to the throat before hitting the gas. Too often you see folks whipping the water into a froth with a real high cadence but poor paddle plant. I really like the Power Surge catch and the dihedral eliminates any possible flutter.

solid theory
if you’re strong enough, do it. the top paddler in florida uses an outrigger blade on a 54 to 56 inch paddle. that’s pretty damn big, in length and width.

but he’s a past national champ, and he should his class this year.

Carlisle outfitter
It may be counter intuitive but get yourself and your whole team a set of Carlisle outfitter paddles. Give them a chance to get use to them (say in the Aderondack Fall Classic) If they use them and for all three days and don’t like them then I will gladdly give each one of them a Genny cream ale or a bottle of Ripple!

Tip reinforcement
Jack, follow what Charlie says about the wideblade Carlisle paddles, but add about 8 oz of JB weld to the tips to keep them from cracking. Make sure you get the heavy duty outfitter models with the foam sleeve around the gold anodized shafts. Then you won’t need to carry a spare, these will never break.

I seem to remember advising you some months ago to buy a Zaveral Outrigger Paddle for paddling stern in the MN-III. It was not in jest, you need a lot of blade surface to horse around a 700# 20’canoe in Brown’s Tract. Mine is 9.75", full size for the Outrigger Power Serge. If i could get one at 10.75" for the baldpaddler in the bow, I would have it chained to his seat.


Hi Jack,
I love the ZRE PS and would say to go for the OC size for the short races too.

Just in case you were wondering. We ARE really close on our new Canoe paddle that I was talking about a while ago. Actually its done but still tinkering on layup.

I would’nt use a larger blade
Andy Triebold is the fastest canoe racer in the country. If you watch him his cadence is always up in 70 strokes per minute area. If you can push 70 strokes per minute with a big blade than by all means use one. However if you get some big outrigger blade and can only paddle 50 some strokes per minute you lost the benefit. It’s like riding a bike. For racing you want your cadence at like 90-100 rpm. You can use a big gear and pedal at 60 rpm but you are only going to kill your legs and expend a lot of energy trying to turn it over. Forever bike racers have been slogging along up climbs at 50-60 rpm. Lance Armstrong if I remember correctly would pedal 100 rpm up a lot of these climbs. If you are used to a faster cadence your body gets accustomed to that. Going to a slower cadence will be less efficient and will wear your muscles down faster. Six mile canoe races are still around an hour long, certainly not a sprint.

I am not talking about getting a bigger blade for a long distance, or for any one else.

I am thinking about it for a short distance race only and just for me, with my bow paddler still using her own paddle.

There was a time a few years back when I would long to see that last mile come toward the end of a six or eight mile race. Now I want the race to continue.

Also, I used to die if I had to hold a paddle on one side for more than twenty strokes. Now I could hold a hundred if I had to.

So, I am assuming that I possibly could go faster with a bigger blade, in a short race, where it wouldn’t kill me.



I completely agree with you,
but I should have said at the start, that I was paddling tandem with my wife, and rather than be out of sync with me paddling a faster cadence, I thought with a bigger blade for me we could get some more speed.


the paddler i mentioned using an outrigger blade can turn in times of 1:45 on a 12-mile course, depending on current, etc.

it works for him, but he’s strong as hell.

If it kills you Can I have the canoes?

i call seconds

Yes, in a tandem situation with your wife, most definitely!..but not so large as to induce any stress felt afterwards…