I'm 67 and I don't have any racing days in front of me or in the 60 years of paddling behind me. I also have lots of paddles, including lots of very nice bent shafts.
But the one paddle I now reach for the most for overnight trips or just a 30 minute spin on my local river is my 48.5" ZRE Power Surge Outrigger Light at 8.75" width. I'm 5-9 and shrinking, but I'd probably go to 50" if I bought another one. Probably the best idea is to get an uncut shaft with unattached grip, and then cut it down to your preferred length.
I also prefer the ZRE flexible shaft to the regular carbon shaft. It's probably an ounce heavier but much easier on my touchy shoulders and elbow.
Bite the price bullet and go light weight. Wood is beautiful but it can't match carbon's weight/strength for any price.
Paddler's Truck Rack
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