Originally Posted by burnor
So if it's giving you more power or it's easier... I would ask: why aren't slalom paddlers doing it. They are the most efficient & technically sound ww boaters out there. I guess I'm trying to foster some scrutiny here for upcoming paddlers... I recommend you try both hand positions, be cautious about the actual gains of choking up.
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I don't know a ton about slalom equipment, but I believe that they tend to use a longer paddle for just this reason. The popularity of playboating seems like it was the main driver for reducing paddle length.
There's not really any question about whether or not you have more leverage and therefore generate more power with a closer grip. The question is whether or not it's worth the trade offs. jmack may be a hairy bastard, but he's kind of a smart guy. The bicycle gear analogy is certainly the best here from a power perspective. Why don't bicycle racers just put a granny gear on their bike and call it good?
A closer grip can certainly lead to more fatigue and joint stress if you're not conditioned for it. Too extreme and you end up with weird alignment as well. Also, as jmack noted, it can be more difficult to place precise strokes. Try using chopsticks by grabbing close to the bottom and then by grabbing them at the very top. The latter is a lot harder, no?
I've read that Evan Garcia has been gradually using a longer paddle. He's really strong and really skilled so he can get away with the longer paddle and reap the benefits of more leverage. More or less the same concept of a closer grip.