Mike, you mention that your hand placement is almost forced by the configuration of the bent shaft, and that you like that. It is that very aspect of bent-shaft paddles that seems to lead to their being discarded, sooner or later. People just get tired of that. In order to properly wield the paddle, you must hold it in just one way--you can't alter your grip, slide your hands closer or farther apart, rotate the shaft in your hands for a different blade angle. Bracing becomes problematic. Rather than you being in control of the paddle, the paddle is in control of you--that's what most paddlers find is the heart of the problem with them.