Betsie Bay Paddles???

…[Disclaimer: I am a Euro blade paddler who is dabbling a bit with GPs (have a Beale and a Betsie Bay)]…

Okay I know that these are not “true” GPs. I had read this before. Now that I just recently ordered one I know why. It is kind of like a Euro paddle with a GP blade.

At first I was disappointed, but then I decided that since I had it I might as well give it a try. Maybe I would like it.

I have mixed feelings so far.

I am considering switching to a GP to alleveate tendonitis problems I am having with my wrists, elbows and hands.

I think that a GP may be a good solution for me.

I can effectively use the Beale GP, which is a true GP design; however, the Betsie Bay may feel a bit more natural for me as Euro blade convert. I also really like the way that the blade slices through the water with rudder and draw strokes.

I am not sure though if its thin loom that is not gripped on the blades like a real GP, may not offer all the advantages of a GP in terms of alleviating my tendonitis. NOt sure though. Just seems that the grip on the roots of the blade that a real GP requires may result in a grip that would put less strain on my wrists and elbows (I tend to grip too hard).

What do you think?

I am not seeking to be a Greenland purist, but rather just want a paddle that will work well for me and reduce my chances of continued tendonitis and offer me unlimited potential.


You need to make a commitment.
It took me several months to get comfortable with my GP. And even then, every time I had to launch through surf I would chicken out and use the Euro to get off the beach.

That was over two years ago. Now, I feel very unstable when I try to use a Euro. I use my Beale almost exclusively. I also have a Feathercraft Klatwa 2 piece that I use when traveling by air and a storm paddle that was made by John Peterson of Shaman Kayaks.

Just commit to the Beale and use it. You will gradually get very comfortable with it. Remember, loose grip and I even wag the fingers of my pushing hand to make sure they stay loose or sometimes just open the grip up completely.

You’ll find the GP is easier on all of your joints and much easier to use. But you didn’t learn to use your Euro correctly the first time out and you won’t learn to use the GP that quickly either.

Screw the GP!! Go to a Windswift!!
I am kidding. I use GPs but prefer the Windswift, a small efficient blade on a short shaft. I find the GPs a little easier on my shoulder. From paddling with you Matt, I recall you prefering a very large bladed paddle. Go small or go GP or go both. Let me know if you want to try a Windswift Matt. I have a beater I can send out

Skip the Betsie Bay
Use the Beale exclusively. You don’t need a transition. I just recently went all through this. The Betsie Bay is a better design than a Euro for most things but not as good as a true GP. The main thing is to stick to it and let the paddle teach you. Rotate even more than you think you should. Push with your paddle side foot and relax the other one even more than you may be used to. Don’t buy into the low paddle angle nonsense unless that is what you prefer. Look at the videos in stop action.

Forward Stroke Clinic
Instead for looking magical paddle you should invest time and money into refining your forward stroke. I am quite sure getting rid of fundamental problems leading to wrist/elbow/something else complications is worth a session with one of the “forward stroke greats”

When I saw you paddle, you were doing the following:

  1. Death Grip
  2. Over-feather - cocked wrists
  3. Stabbing Paddle - upper hand dropping through the stroke
  4. Possible over-rotation

    Take care

Betsie Bay and Beale paddles
I’ve been using an unshouldered Beale Greenland-style paddle exclusively for 4 years. Easy on the body: shoulders, wrists, hands. Love being able to use the whole length of the paddle by sliding my hands along it. Last weekend I tried a Betsie Bay Greenland-style paddle – switched paddles with another person during a river trip. What I did not like about the Betsie Bay was the round, small-diameter loom – think broomstick – like a Euro paddle shaft. It did not feel good in my hands. I think the paddle probably functioned fine; for me the issue was just the lack of comfort in my hands.

bbk versus GP
BBK paddles are in someways transition paddles. They’re design for the GP paddling style espoused by Doug van Doren–no canted blade, vertical push forward–which is quite different that the canted blade stroke. I used one to start and then rapidly gave it up when I switched to a more traditional paddle. Only you can decide if your Euro stroke needs tweaking–if not, I’d go with a traditional GP and a traditional canted forward stroke, which will require you to unlearn lots of Euro habits.

I think it was about a year ago that Suriam and I paddled together…think it was at the rough water symposium.

I have worked a lot on my stroke since then and have improved it quite a bit. In fact that symposium was somewhat of a turning point for me based on some comments I got from one of the instructors.

I think I have overcome most issues but I still do tend to grip the paddle too hard which I am sure could be contributing to my problems.

I am still considering the GP switch at least for distance paddling.

I like the shape of the blade on the Betsie Bay but am not crazy about the loom perhaps.


Hi Matt
A good friend of mine, a world class distance paddler and a long time GPer, was told by Nigel Dennis that she used the GP as a Euro paddle. True, and she rebuilt her stroke. You can use a GP like a Euro, but the GP technique embrased by most GPers is quite different. It isn’t about angle so much as about cant, about when force is applied, and about where and how the paddle exits among other things. A GP takes a while to master and requires setting aside Euro technique, but once you have it down then lots of things become easier and some things, like rolling, become much more interesting and fun. I’ve carved my own GP, and its a fine paddle, but I’ve got a finely tuned Lumpy and it is simply amazing to have a paddle that fits me perfectly. You can do this too if you want, but it will take some time and a few dollars. Don’t know if it will help your tendonitis–hope so–but even if you go back to a Euro blade in particular settings, you’ll have mastered another set of techniques that will help you become a better paddler.