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ZE 1!

Small boat, lower waterline. Perfect for long runs with the youth!

 Paddling is all about finding gear that suits you. Playboats are made for surfing and throwing loops. Creekboats are made to run waterfalls and steep rivers. You’ll be able to loop with a creekboat and to run rivers (and few waterfalls) with a playboat, but some boats are going to be better than others to do stuff.  That said,  you can do everything you want in every boats, the boat limits are actually the paddlers.

However, some boat are well design so it makes easier to do everything, without making the boat a specialist in a specific field. I personnally think they are the best boat, especially if you are looking to buy your first ever boat. As a newbie, it will help you develop general skills in the most various practice (surfing, spinning, carving, boofing, etc). By the time you will be experience enough, you will realize what you like, what you’re better at and what are the type of rivers you can find nearby.

All this leads me to tell you about THE most polyvalent boat to use: Z.One. I paddled it for the first time at Vagues en ville fest in Quebec city in April 2013.

At first his sexy look interested me (maybe because of its pink color). Long, narrow ends, not-that-wide and a bit of a displacement hull made me think it’d be a fast boat. The bow and stern rocker with the scoop ends caught my interest and I knew it would be easy to spin on waves and throw pivots and enders. Then… my first impression stopped there. I realize it was a bit cold on the bank and I should stop starring at it and go paddle (April+Quebec city=always chilly).

As I hop in, the boat  feels really confortable. After few strokes, it feels fast, stable (but not to much) and maneuverable. Feeling really connected to the boat as I edge back and forth sitting in the eddy, I attack the undefined eddy line. WOW, carving out from the eddy feels GOOD! In a moment I’m already on the opposite eddy, keeping my speed all the way in and out from the stream. Carving into the eddy is stable and feel just like in a slalom boat:. Without thinking much, I’m going for the temporary slalom gates that Pascal Tremblay and Marie-Pier Côté put up for the event. Expecting to put more power to negociate the offsets/staggers, I’m going through these gates as easy as it was 30 minutes ago with my composite slalom. I need to pull a bit more than usual to get the proper effect of my offside edge. I’m maybe floating the boat too much (with experience, a size smaller is just perfect). A smile glued to my face, I aim “the most crappy” upstream of the race course: those with an inexistant eddy line neither upstream current. Again, the boat is still moving forward and carving through the poles. I exit the gate with 2 strokes and a bigger smile! WOW, the boat is easy to get use to, stable and reactive. Paddling back up, I repeat the same pattern. My first impression is not cheating on me and the boat reacts just like it did few minutes ago. Now time for a first surf with Ze 1.

The little and pushy diagonal wave is tricky. You need to carve back and forth to avoid drowning your bow and to keep your butt on the surfing face of it. It always trying to flush you one on surfers right. Dropping in it, the Z.One is catching the wave easiely and it get thrown in the bottom of it. I manage to control it and everything feels easy. Carves, spins, shuve-its, side surfs. The length of the boat keep me in alert so I have to move with a fast and precise edge. Often, my bow and my stern are getting caught and make the boat going for old school tricks… with pleasure!!! This 30 minutes try out felt like 5. It went so fast, I feel the boat can show me more than that.

Thea Froehlich on the lip of Hogsback fall in Ottawa.


A year later, by chance, we’re able to get more Z.Ones and in various sizes (no Large). Early july 2014, Christmas is back again!!! Paddling all summer with it, club kids, instructor and myself are discovering a very polyvalent boat. Renting it to “just introduced”, a year experienced or advanced paddlers one any sizes (teen to adults), everyone are enjoying it! We use it in surf and strokes lessons, on summer camps expeditions (Class1-2 with a lot of flat water), creeks, big water and waterfalls.Everything suits him.

Colin Poirier and I shotgunning the fifth Sister. Nic and Kylie watching us.


As a 165ish lbs and 5’11” (75kg/1.78m) men, the small and the medium are fitting me well for different purposes. For surfing, technique sessions (in gates or not) and easy rivers (Class3 max), I’d prefer the small size. The boat is more in the water and offside edging is easier. On the other hand, for bigger and steeper rapids (serious Class4-5), I’d prefer the Medium. Being more on top of the water and taller, the Medium size is easier to keep the speed through the eddylines, holes and drops. That said, some 130lbs girl also had fun on big river runs in the Medium and used it for many steep runs. A 145lbs guy also used a small size Z.One on the Rouge river 7 sisters’ in the middle of the summer (low level).

This boat is:

  • Effortless
  • Easy to understand
  • the Boat you’ll keep for a lifetime

This boat is not:

  • A freestyle boat. Loops and cartwheel are not easy.
  • A creek boat. Pyranha’s construction is THE best but the Z.One are built for a multipurpose use, not to slide and step on rocks (We had no break within 90 days of use). Go for a Burn, Shiva or 9R.

This boat will:

  • Help you progress with your stroke technique, feeling of the water and basic WW
  • Give you feedbacks when you need to (i.e. when you are not doing it properly (not perfectly) like catching an edge, not rolling or not turning)
  • Open the spectrum of WW disciplines to you with the right bases (freestyle, slalom, creek, etc)

This boat won’t :

  • Take you to the moon, only to heaven

Be aware. For optimal results, choose the right size based on your weight, height and typical use. Choose it for the most variant conditions you are going to face. Don’t be afraid or sceptic, you’ll be able to do everything easiely with it and it will challenge your skills for a long term!

Go see your closest dealer and ask for it!