ZRE straight paddle question

When paddling do you bury the narrow fin before the main shaft? How do you measure shaft length on a zre straight,the round portion or down to the main blade?


Your first question…
doesn’t make sense.

Your second question: Paddle length is measured from the tip of the blade to the top of the handle.

You can buy paddle shafts, and the measurement for them is naturally just the length of the shaft.


Generally you would paddle with the whole blade in the water and no part of the shaft. The blade and shaft joint is usually obvious. Paddles are measured tip to handle, so figuring out length is specific to each paddle. The surge type blades are usually 18" long, so if you figure out how long a shaft you like, just add the 18". Easiest way is to paddle with a broom stick and mark where the stick is in the water during a foward stroke. You can also go by usual guidelines and start from there.

Ryan L.

Are you pulling our leg?

So the paddle is shaped like half an hourglass, right? You’re asking if you should include the “pinched” part of the blade in the “blade length” or “shaft length”? The answer is the pinched part of the blade is considered in the blade length, not the shaft length, even though the pinched part is skinny and semi rounded. The shaft length is measured from the glue joint at the top of the blade. Its easy to see where the joint is when its in your hands.

As said above the ideal length has the blade burried but very little or none of the shaft in the water

My guess is that
Rich is talking about ZRE Power Surge paddles which have a rather extreme amount of relief in the upper blade area, so much so that the upper blade is barely wider than the shaft.

If so, the question makes sense to me. It would seem that ZRE considers the relieved portion to be “blade” since, if I remember correctly, on their bent shaft versions of the Power Surge the angle occurs at the point at which the highly relieved blade meets the oval shaft.

But if you have a zero degree Power Surge I guess you would have the option to decide whether you want to submerge all of the “blade” or not. I have never used one with zero degree bend so I don’t know what I would do. Obviously, if you chose to submerge all, or nearly all of the highly relieved part then you would count it as blade, if not then you would count the part you don’t sink in the water as shaft.

I suspect I would choose to use the paddle in such a way that the relieved part would fit best against the curvature of the hull of the canoe.

from this link

ZRE includes in the blade length the skinny part of the paddle not just the fat part

I am thinking that the intent is to allow a really good vertical stroke close to the boat. Most likely the slender part of the blade allows clearance of the hull before the fat part of the blade has a chance to hit it.

Intended to be used for hit and switch and not slicing the philosophy seems to be that undue agitation from a round shape in the water is not a factor. But that may not be the way that you plan to use the paddle. Straight shafted paddles seem to go with kneeling paddlers who are also inwater recovery paddlers.

Inwater recovery with bent is easy.
Easier for me than with straight.

Sure its possible…but that is not the
intent of bent shafted paddles.

If you do an inwater recovery to have a vertical paddle one of two things happen. One is you get pulled out of the boat because the top hand has to be so far out. That is the most comfortable with an dedicated grip.

The other is to invert the paddle and have your top hand in your boat with elbow bent…then you have to straighten it out for the next power stroke. Seems a bit of wear and tear on your elbow.

Anything is possible with a paddle or for a tree branch for a paddle substitute for that matter.

But Rich is seeking a straight blade so we digress.

The second approach is mine.
It’s very easy on the elbow.

Why not slice with the shaft vertical?
Plain old Zaveral Z paddles slice better than any other I’ve used.

When I had the standard bent shaft my in water recovery was no different than it is with a straight shaft.

Yes the blade was not perpendicular. But since my goal was to slice the paddle forward with minimal drag I can’t see that angle making any noticeable difference.

It would make a difference if I was trying to combine a bow draw with my slice. That is one reason I prefer the straight shaft.

So why would anyone reach out or flip the blade simply to slice the blade forward?

Cause most people tend to lift the

– Last Updated: Dec-12-12 10:49 AM EST –

blade on recovery. This of course may not be true of you; you know lifting water or pushing down is to be avoided.

Most people don't have spot on neutral paddle recoveries and if things get off, whang the paddle against the bottom of the boat.

Where'd Turtle go..maybe he is back in the boat shop.

No-out hunting
Sorry about my unclear post,but you figgured it out. I shortened a straight Zav counting the narrow part of the blade as shaft length. It works fine and it’s a very short lift to clear the water on recovery which helps my shoulder. I use inwater recovery a lot,but it doesn’t work as well with the Zav as other paddles,besides with it’s light weight and shirt blade it’s not much easier.What is the theory behind that narrow section anyway?

Merry Christmas,Turtle

Since the Power Surge
is a paddle favored by the marathon racing crowd, I suspect that the very high degree of relief in the paddle blade allows the stroke to be taken closer in and with a more vertical shaft angle while still clearing the “wings” that boats like the J-203 have to meet minimum beam requirements.

ZRE same as any other paddle
I think the OP has been answered, but I’ll add my experience with ZRE’s.

I consolidated my paddle usage down to two this past year, both ZRE’s: a Power Surge bent and a Z Light straight shaft. Some forum members here shared their experiences with the ZRE straight shaft before I bought mine, since it has two idiosyncrasies.

Both the PS blade and ZL blades have a similar squashed shape with long concave shoulders. The purpose of this blade shape is to get the meat of the paddle in the water immediately at the catch and to have a certain blade area. That necessitates a long skinny shoulder. Making that shoulder concave allows the blade to get further under the chine and closer to the keel line than other blade shapes.

The PS blades have asymmetrical faces, which are best for straight ahead paddling, and they also have asymmetrical grips, which are ideal for bent shafts. The ZL blade has symmetrical faces, which make it more predictable for a straight shaft that will be sliced and palm rolled.

However, ZRE unfortunately puts its asymmetrical grip on the straight shafts. UNLESS they can locate a symmetrical carbon Barton grip, as they did for me, or you insert your own symmetrical wooden grip. I frankly wouldn’t spend a fortune on a ZRE straight shaft unless it had a symmetrical grip because I am too much of palm roller.

The blades obviously end at the glue joint with the shaft.

How deep do I insert the ZRE? I don’t think I do anything different from any other paddle. It’s all by feel. I don’t look to see; it’s just automatic with experience. I certainly don’t bury much of the shaft unless I want to scoop under the hull, or unless I’m rolling the canoe in the Niagara Gorge. With my longer shaft straight paddle, my top hand is of course held higher than with my short bent shaft.

ZRE’s are the best slicing blades I have ever used, simply because they are so thin and short, which presents almost no frontal area to the water on a slice.

I paddle 90% of the time on my knees, and on flatwater I paddle 90% of the time with the bent shaft. My strokes are no different with a bent than they are with a straight shaft, other than that my top arm is lower because of the shorter shaft on a bent.

I don’t do full in-water returns with palm rolls with the bent as I so with a straight. But that’s not because the slice or return is more difficult; it’s simply because I don’t want my next stroke to be with the back face of the bent.

The ZRE bent is elegant and superior for the partial in-water return and outward slice of the Canadian and Florida forward stroke techniques.

I also like to do some freestyle moves with an inverted bent shaft paddle, such as sideslips, bow jams, and even axle and post turns.

Zav Grip
Yep it is asymmetric.

But it palm rolls nicely for me just the same.

I can tell which side of the blade I’m using.

But it’s comfortable and effective either way.

Grip and blade on ZRE straight
I’ve gotten some private questions on this, so let me talk about what I call the two idiosyncrasies of a ZRE straight paddle.

First, ZRE used to have symmetrical grips but now they put their asymmetrical bent shaft grip on the straight blades. I guess I lucked out because Bob Zaveral had a Barton Paddles symmetrical carbon fiber grip, which he had acquired when Bruce Barton went out of business years ago. Maybe I got the last one. It’s beautiful, sexy, strokable, palm rollable, and I have it.

I know several paddlers who paddle and palm roll ZRE straights even with the asymmetrical grips, including TommyC1, Yanoer, Turtle and Harold Deal. But I would guess they all quickly flip the blade to the preferred grip position once they are finished with their orgy of palm rolling. I don’t have to do that.

The second idiosyncrasy is that ZRE straight shaft blades are not centered on the shaft, unless you can find a much older model such as the one TC1 has. Now, the blade is flush with the shaft on one face, but indented from the shaft about 3/8" on the other face. This evidently is an artifact of the straightening process.

This offset blade raises the question of which face should be the power face if you are using an asymmetrical grip. After a season of use I find the face differences subtle, but I very slightly favor the indented face as the power face. The indented face aligns better for me on the catch, and it also produces very slightly less flutter. Let me quickly add, however, that flutter is not an issue with either face during real world paddling. Only during experiments where I try to create it.

In any event, if someone were to buy a ZRE straight with an asymmetrical grip, I would advise setting it up so the indented face is the power face. Actually, the best would be to buy the paddle with the grip unattached and do your own experiments.

Power face
I also have the asemetrical mounted blade on my zre straight and I had the same experience as Glenn as to which power face felt better. I remember when Tommy bought the non asemetrical ZAV straight as Star lake. I was envious. Yes I do palm roll my zav,but not a lot. With my other paddles(Dog paddle,BB expresso,beaver tail, and home made voyager)I palm roll and Indian stroke most of the time on flat water. If my ZAV was symetrical and had a suitable grib,maybe I would roll it more.


Asymetric Powerface Argh!
Geesh I forgot about Turtle’s asymetric power face.

I can not palm roll that stick at all.

Nothing to do with the grip.

When the powerface is the face flush with the OD of the shaft that thing wobbles like crazy. No way I can get a clean power stroke. When the powerface is the face under the center of the shaft I can get a decent power stroke with no wobble.

If Glen is correct and that offset blade is the only way Zav will make the straight then I can not recomend a Zaveral straight shaft. That’s a shame because mine, with the blade centered on the shaft, is pretty sweet.

Offset blade. Wobble.
I have seen used Tommy’s centralized blade paddle, and I asked Bob Zaveral why the centralized blade is no longer available. He said he hadn’t used that mold in over ten years, so Tommy’s paddle is an old model no longer available.

I wouldn’t paddle with any paddle that wobbles, and if it did so, I would certainly say so on this forum. My straight ZRE with an offset face does not wobble during real strokes. Because I have a symmetrical grip, I never even know what face I’m using as the power face. I report this as one who has used the paddle for hundreds of hours this season, including a six day solo trip through lakes and rivers of the Dacks.

Harold Deal uses this same paddle with an asymmetric grip as his primary flatwater straight, and there is no paddler I know who is more attuned to sophisticated water feel. I questioned him closely about wobble before I bought mine. He voiced no concerns about that issue after many years of use.

I only can create wobble if I loosen my top grip. When I do that, both faces of the ZRE will wobble, and the flush face will wobble very slightly more. All my paddles will wobble with a loose top hand and a hard pull.

That’s my experience. I can’t speak to anyone else’s.