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A question about Paddle Grip and Hand Width from “Bill”

Monday, March 24, 2008
Dear Brent,
You have been so gracious to give me advice in the past and I thank you very much for that. I have another question for you. I now have a wing paddle and I have moved up to a surf ski. It has been great fun but very challenging. One of the things I am struggling with right now is keeping my hands in the right position on the paddle. They tend to move around a lot and it seems like I am constantly adjusting to the right position. I have tried putting tape on the handle but I still seem to move up the handle. I have notice in your video when you are demonstrating with your wing paddle you have some type of orange handle grips with a raised ring or stop that may prevent your hands from moving up the paddle handle. Can I buy some type of grip that would assist me in keeping my hands in the right spot? And if so where can I order it? And as far as proper hand position, holding my paddle horizontal above my head I am placing my hands at the spots where my elbows are at 90 degrees. Is this correct? Thanks again for your help and your video is great…I look at it often. Regards, Bill

Bill, in an effort to share this knowledge with everyone, I've choosen to post Your Question - and My Answer to my site:
Bill: I typically “customize” all my paddle shafts by adding a very thin piece of “paddle-grip” material to increase the circumference ever so slightly. I subscribe to the analogy of tennis players using a larger grip to help avoid tendonitis issues. This is an Old Theory, but one that has worked over the years for me. Hand Size of course is key in this debate. The material I like to use will vary with the diameter of the shaft. However I have had good success with The Purple Grip material that I THINK came from Salamander…However, I’m not sure anymore, as these company keeping being bought-up and product mix changes…Regardless, the material is as thin as I can find. The other KEY customization I make is to COVER up this Grip Tape Surface with High-Grade Vinyl Electrical Tape. In my humble opinion, The Surface-Area of ALL of the grip tapes out there, are WAY TOO AGGRESSIVE. For paddlers who even do modest mileage, the stock-surface will tear your water-logged hands to shreds if you don’t cover it with something more slick which allows the shaft to rotate freely. (I am not a fan of gloves...) Also, I typically wrap the grip-tape from the Paddle-End toward The Center, thereby utilizing the thin edges of each ½ inch tape edge to keep my hands from slipping toward the center of the shaft by mistake. Lastly, I like to measure the exact distance from the center of the shaft where the INSIDE of my hands will rest (see note below). Then I simply use Additional Electrical Tape to "raise" this area so I can "Feel" when my hands may be "cheating toward center"...Got it?

Regarding your Hand Position: You need to go a bit NARROWER than you are describing. You should grip the paddle in a fashion where your Upper Arm and Lower Arm are at 90 degrees to one-another, but then MOVE YOUR HAND INWARD ABOUT ½ - 1 hand’s width. Your Upper and Lower Arms will now be at a slightly ACUTE angle vs. 90 Degrees. Hope this helps Bill, brent

Thank you to ALL, for yet Another Wonderful & FUN Canoecopia of Kayaks and Canoes!

Monday, March 17, 2008
Thanks to all of you who supported me last week by attending CANOECOPIA, 08 and my Forward Stroke Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. Of course, for those of you who did attend, you were VERY thankful my demonstration was done in the comfortable confines of a nice-warm-conference-hall! For those of you where were NOT there,…Let me clue you in: The Temp on Sat Nite was 11 degrees Fahrenheit…yikes! Of course, my Midwest Friends are used to this, but this wimpy California-Boy had forgotten what that was all about!
I had two really great 1-Hour Presentations, complete with a few harmonica riffs as well as a Special Guest Appearance by Darren Bush on Guitar! Darren owns Rutabaga and is the Grand PU-BAH for Canoecopia every year. He and his trusty-staff seem to pull this incredible event off more smoothly each year. They never cease to amaze me and my hats are off to each and every one!
I have not heard the attendance numbers yet, but there are usually over 20,000 Paddlers (or Gonna-Be Paddlers!) strolling the isles over the 3-Day Weekend Event. Simply an unbelievable showing of New Gear, Great Deals, Great Paddling-Related Presentations, and New Smiling Faces, all “joined-by-the-hip by one kind of paddling discipline, or another!
I’ll be doing my Master’s Series; On-The-Water Class for 3-Days over this coming Memorial Day Weekend, so “Come-On-Down!” Find out how to sign-up to take this class in Madison WI, by going to and click on their “programs” link.

My next teaching trip is coming in a few weeks. On March 28 – 30, I head to San Diego…(probably NOT 11 degrees Fahrenheit!) for The Southwest Kayak Symposium. I just received word that both of my On-The-Water Classes have SOLD-OUT…but come on down anyway, as this is another excellent event for learning & connecting with other paddlers from all over The West. Again Super-Instructors from all disciplines and experiences will be there to share their knowledge. Not to Forget, the Great Saturday Nite BEACH BONFIRE JAM-SESSION that is always one of the highlights every season! So be sure to check out how to get involved on the web at Here's looking forward to another fun-season On-The-Water, Enjoy, brent

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