Several years ago, Larry Cain posted a lengthy piece at 'Distressed Mullet' in response to something I had posted at SUPracer.com and began throwing rocks in a greenhouse as it where. My post had motivated him to act. I was never informed of the post, nor given the right to reply. At that juncture, Larry, by his own admission, was a relative novice to SUP, (now turned expert). If he believes he could torpedo me and paddle off over the horizon without rebuff on the issues he had, he better brace himself. Here's one for starters . . .
"The first time people saw Connor Baxter choke down on his paddle it probably blew everyone’s minds. Now it is recognized as a bit of genius that allows the paddler to find the appropriate gear for the conditions, is widely accepted and used by thousands of paddlers. Would Steve have suggested a rule that said you had to have your hand on the top of the paddle, thus preventing this brilliant evolution in technique?" (Larry Cain)
Connor Baxter's Choke Stroke' is nothing new by a few thousand years, Larry seems to assume Connor Baxter invented it out of 'pure genius' and it reflects a 'brilliant example of evolutionary technique.' Thanks for that insight Larry, but you are so embarrassingly wrong in your professed expertise on this matter, of something so fundamental and intrinsic to the history and lineage of paddlesports, I am not sure how you can recover from this bomb-shell revelation; but thanks, you da man!
To suggest that it 'probably blew people's minds' when Connor choked down on the paddle, is an incredulous statement and to then go further to, accredit 'genius' to this act, even more stunning a suggestion, but to then go even further to suggest it is a 'brilliant evolution in technique' leaves me somewhat gob-smacked.
Here's a newsflash; when the first paddles were made, a handle, grip, call it what you will (T-tops, palm grips or indeed any form of handle or grip) was not in fact a customary design feature of many ancient canoe paddles (and even many contemporary based canoe based cultures) such as those from Africa or throughout Melanesian, Micronesian or Polynesian cultures, many pre-dating American Indian culture. This is well documented in Canoes of Oceania - AC Haddon and James Hornell 1855-1940 and a life-long companion in much of my work with outrigger canoeing.
In the contemporary sport of outrigger canoeing, the first use of the T-grip was not first seen, until the 1978 Molokai to Oahu race, a team aptly named ‘Blazing Paddles’ from Illonois entered, paddled, won.
Connor Baxter, invented nothing, because grasping the upper shaft in this manner was indeed and remains the ‘traditional’ and ‘normal’ and only means of grasping the upper shaft in the absence of an upper grip / handle. It was in fact, a no-brainer.
On the issue of my ever suggesting we should implement a rule to ban this method, I, unlike Larry, know the practice to be normal, not unusual; ancient, not contemporary and the suggestion of course, is baseless.
Even though ancient paddles of the Pacific included 'tops' of some type, they were more often than not designed not for gripping, but formed some type of weaponry or purely for aesthetics. T-grips were essentially rare and the preferred and accepted paddling practice was indeed to grasp the upper shaft as illustrated.