ZRE Power Surge

I note with interest that there are several of the Power Surge paddles for sale in the classifieds. I am about to pounce on a ZRE paddle to go along with my new Hemlock Peregrine and have pondered the Power Serge vs their regular bent. Seeing several for sale gives me pause.

Does anyone have an informed opinion about the Power Surge? I have paddled a ZRE lightweight for a week and liked it.

got one a few weeks ago
i love mine. paddled it mostly in my solo marathon canoe. took it out once in my rob roy and loved it with that boat as well. the catch is much better.

used one for years
The catch on a power surge is better and quieter then on the regular ZRE blade. The recoverery is a little noisier. I much prefer the power surge over the other blade, as Kanulife said the catch feels cleaner.



Hey Reggie
I know someone in Zionsville who has one & would no doubt let you try it for comparison purposes. I sent you his contact info. You may know him already since he’s an HCC member.


Powersurge blade
The slight lip on the PowerSerge is a copy of the lip that the wooden Gillespie bent shaft paddles have had for over 20 years. It really improves the blades entry into the water and makes the paddle quieter under power. Using the Gillespie for years made it hard to use a ZRE when i got one for racing. It was light, but it was noisey and not very smooth on entry. Going to the Powersurge was like going back to my favorite Gillespie, but with half the weight.

Vitamin Ray and I bought medium weight Powersurge paddle and found out when they arrived that the standard width was a narrow 8.25". We assumed they would be as wide as our ZRE rec blades. We gained cadence, but gave up thrust; end result was easy paddling, but a loss of speed in our recreation class tandem.

We reorded the widest form of the Powersurge we could find, untrimmed Outrigger Powersurge blades at 9.75". These really bit into the water and didn’t slip one bit. A bit tough to paddle long distances with at first. Anything over 8 miles and the shoulders were hurting. Vitamin Ray trimmed his down to 9,25" and cured his shoulder problems. Mine is still full size and it works great in the stern of the C-4 where i need all the thrust i can get for steering. I do want to get one at 9.375" for the long distance events with Team Darryl where cadence is high and corrections few.

You will love this blade design, its sole drawback is the bow paddler kicks up more water for the stern paddler to inhale at warp speed.

Now that i have informed you, you will have to be eliminated before you can pass this information to the Baldpaddler and Red Cross Randy. We can’t afford to have them in possession of any more speed secrets.


I am surprised that you want that wide paddle blades. I remember Greg Barton making the width of the ZRE paddles narrower than 8,25" when he was preparing for the Clinton with Serge Corbin. I think he used them at about 8". No problems with speed there.

The asumtion that you need wide paddles for speed is as far as I have experienced wrong. Maybe for ultra slow paddling cadence where the boat nearly stops between each stroke, but never to maintain speed. For speed stroke rate is the way to go.


pendulum affect
did i spell that right? it seems that some racers are leaning toward wider blades these days. it’s almost like paddlers went as narrow as possible a few years ago, and now some are looking for more power, even if it’s just a quarter-inch or so.

it also has to do with personal technique. if you’re smaller and prefer a higher cadence, you’ll probably want a narrower blade. if you’re powerful and do well in the sprints, you may opt for something wider.

i race solo marathon canoes and just went to the widest flatwater power surge in light weight. feels great to me. it does feel like a gillespie but without the weight.

Blade width
The trend towards high cadence and narrow blades in racing canoes does yield high speed in those hulls. They are very sleek and when up to speed need very little thrust to keep them at speed. They are narrow hulls running at low draft. The key to speed for them is paddle speed thru the water; the boat can’t go forward any faster than the paddle is pulled toward the paddler from the plant in front of the paddler. The faster the paddle is pulled, the less time the water has to slip around the paddle and the more efficient the stroke becomes. At about 180 strokes/minute the water is more like concrete in its resistance to the paddle movement. Like the feet on a duck or loon running across the top of the water; his feet move so fast they don’t sink into the water. Now not many of us can paddle at 180 strokes/min; and not many of us paddle a pro-boat at speed for long distances.

In a recreational class canoe the hull is wider, the displacement is Miller real draft, and the hull requires more thrust to overcome the resistance of the water to the movement of the canoe thru it. The narrower paddle that works so well in the pro-boat doesn’t get enough of a bite on the water and slips thru the water while the canoe is being pulled toward the paddle. So each stroke moves the canoe forward a little less. The distance the canoe moves is not the full paddle stroke, but the stroke length minus what the paddle slipped thru the water during the stroke.

This is where the big blade works for me; it stays stuck where i put it into the water and the canoe moves to it.

Before the advent of the bent shaft paddle, the state of the art for racers was the Clement paddle. The one hanging on my paddle wall has a monster 10" x 20" blade surface, 200 square inches of bite on the water. This is not the “soda straw in the ocean” of a Greenland kayak paddle. This is a “barndoor in the wind” resistance to movement thru the water.

It took real he-men to paddle with these monster sticks, they put a lot of strain on the shoulders.

With the ultralightweight carbon fiber paddles, a very fast stroke could be used; and the momentum of the water gave a high effective bite with a narrower blade. High speed boat propellers are known as screw propellers because at high boat speeds the prop literally screws its way thru the water. At start up the prop pushes the water rearward and the boat moves from a reaction to the rearward thrust of the water. As the boat speed increases the water does not have time to move from the propeller blades; it effectively becomes like a solid and the prop begins to screw thru the water. We don’t reach this point in paddling, but we do get past the point where the bulk of the water is being pushed rearward past the canoe, to the point where the canoe is moving past the paddle which is moving slightly thru the water.

My old analogy is that racing canoes are like off-shore powerboats and recreational canoe are like supertankers. The speed boat has a small prop spinning at thousands of rpms, the supertanker has a twenty-ton hunk of brass thirty feet across that rotates like it was hand cranked. The difference between high speed and high thrust.

Power Surge
Ahhhh, someone is reading my mind. It is my coveted Gillespie HR Powerstick that I am considering replacing. I am quite familiar with the benefits of the power lip but am intersted in the perceived benefits of a dihedral blade surface. Dihedral works quite well on my AT Adventure Tour longboat paddle and eliminates any paddle wobble on acceleration. I too am considering going a bit beyond marathon paddling spec sizing for the blade. I will be using the paddle in my new Peregrine for general cruising. I am also a freestyle paddler who is quite familiar with pizza flipper sized blades on a straight shaft. I too had a Clement 22x10 pizza shovel pattered after Mike Galt’s paddle of the early days.

What I may do is combine the best of both worlds and buy one of Brad Gillespie’s power surge blades mounted on the double bent wood shaft. It will be like Uncle Harry Roberts and Serge Corbin giving me their very best.

Brad had the lip first
One of my oldest bent shaft paddles is a Gillespie witha an old sticker that has a Bath NY address for Gillespie Paddles. And it like every Gillespie bent shaft I have seen has that slight curl to the tip. Corbin and Zaveral came up with the carbon fiber version much later.

Wow, using a Clement for freestyle! Guess with that much blade surface you could really put some pressure on a low brace.


you guys are making me
want to pull the gillespie out of the garage. it is a nice paddle, but the Zav is just so light.

Wooden Paddles
When I paddle with my friends who are WCHA members and always take a wooden canoe on trips, I will use the Gillespie to not offend them with carbon fiber. I figure the Gillespie makes sort of a training weight compared to the ZRE, but compared to the beauiful one piece beavertails that most of them paddle with, the Gillespie is a featherweight.

The grip on the Gillespie is another great feature. You can really wrap your hand around it. Most wooden bent shafts have too flat a grip and give me blisters where my thumb wraps around the grip. They seem to be carry-overs from straight shaft paddles which are sometimes paddled flat with the grip held along the side instead of over the top.

Brad is a very muscular guy who understands how paddles need to be used when paddling for speed and long distance. His brother Marc is getting the attention now as a paddler, but Brad was a very competitive paddler before business and family took his time.