-- Last Updated: Feb-05-14 9:24 AM EST --
After many decades of wood and then hybrid paddles, I now use one bent and one straight Zav for everything.
One exception: for real whitewater I'd use my old wooden Mitchells, but I hardly ever run real whitewater any more.
I'm 90% a kneeling paddler and 90% of that time using single-sided correction strokes. I probably use the 48.5" bent 90% of the time on lakes and easy rivers. That's the carbon paddle I got first and would still get first.
I've had a 57" ZRE straight for three years. It has the offset blade, which does not flutter or bother me in the least. It's good length for bumpy water, reach and control strokes, but a little long for repetitive forward stroking on flat water.
I managed to get a symmetrical Barton carbon grip for my ZRE straight, but the last I heard all the current ZRE grips are now the same asymmetrical ones as on their bents. That would bother me somewhat, as it would be a little less smooth to palm roll, but others such as Harold Deal use it that way. You could make, or have made, a symmetrical wooden grip.
I find the standard ZRE carbon shaft to be too stiff and returned my first bent partly because of that issue. Both of my ZRE's now have the flexible shaft option, which has some linear fiberglass inside the shaft and is slightly heavier.
If you use a carbon paddle on bony rivers you might consider the whitewater blade, which I have on my straight and which also adds a little weight.
I wouldn't spend ZRE money on an intermediate bend shaft. 12 degree bends have been settled on now by canoe racers and cruisers as the most efficient angle. Outrigger paddlers have also settled around 11-12 degrees. You also can do all flat water freestyle control strokes with a 12 degree bent. I invert the paddle for side slips and bow jams (wedges).
As for the ZRE Power Curve, it's very nice, but I would only consider it if I was again running a lot of heavy whitewater. It's too big and powerful a blade for flat water and not all that light. I prefer my original wooden Blackburn Lutra if I want to go to that big-bite a blade on flat water.
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