Begginer paddle: Greenland or Euro?

i am currently preparing to build a yostwerks designed skin on frame greenland style kayak, the sea cruiser. i have been looking at options for a paddle and have found 2 options. one would be to make a greenland paddle for my greenland kayak. this would be cheaper. The other option would be to buy a euro style paddle. this would be the more expensive. i plan to paddle for exersise to strenthen my core and upper body, and to get a cardio workout as well. i also want to be able to spend at least a few hours on the water. i have read that the greenland paddle requires learning new paddling methods. i already paddle pretty well with a euro paddle for a begginer. i paddled last saturday at a demo and did well. learning how to control a new kayak along with learning a new paddling syle i think may be a little difficult. i would like some reccomendations regarding what would be a good option. i also would like to add that i may be building my kayak on allowance, so price may be limited, and higher cost= more saving.

greenland paddle
Since you’ll have a greenland SOF kayak, go with the greenland paddle. It’s easy to learn to use, and it would just be super weird to paddle a skin on frame with a euro paddle! If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy wonderful ones from a bunch of paddle makers. Novorca made me a nice paddle for a reasonable amount (much less than a decent euro paddle, that’s for sure).

Go to this site
GP technique is most different at the start, where it has a canted angle/diving blade. After that it’s not a ton of diff for just getting around. Unless/until you go for higher skill levels or techniques, or add in a storm paddle and a sliding stroke, you aren’t likely to bump into issues that are about the paddle.

GP’s are great for someone on a budget who is set up to work wood because if they break you just mill up a new one. And if you don’t like the loom or the shoulder on the first one you make, you can modify that or start a new piece of wood.

I would also posit that, at three times in a boat at demo days, someone with an really good forward stroke would have a few pointers for you with a Euro as well. So right now there is no investment in time that argues for either paddle.

Better explanation than I can do of the stroke here,, and some nice pics of what you can do with this equipment at the main site.

By a GP - or make a Euro!
If you’d make a GP, why not make a Euro? If you’d buy a Euro, why not buy a GP?

IMO, the “easy to make with a 2x4” argument is the WORST reason to choose a GP over another type. Cheaper is not a valid selection criteria between types. There are a LOT of better reasons to choose a GP!

I do recommend carving your own GPs (as I find them fun to make), just not your first. You need a benchmark - and some water time with them - as the plans/books don’t give you quite enough info like with kayak plans. Carving something you have no experience with may not result in a very good example. Yeah, it’s not too hard, but it really helps to have some hands on user experience too. It’s the finer points that make a really nice paddle. No harder to make, just hard to know what’s what without using them.

If you want a great GP - Get a Lumpy, or Beale, or one of the few I do sometimes! If you win the lottery get a 2 piece Superior carbon!

If you’re set on carving, get the Holst plans, and check out Matt Johnson’s video - both available at: Also check out Brian Nystrom’s book:

I made a gp out of a spruce 2x4 when I bought my first touring boat. I have a few hundred miles on the paddle now and am very satisfied with it. I would love to try different paddles if I get a chance but my stick seems to move my boat well.

Wow - starting with a GP!
All the GP users I know are cross-overs. I knew this would eventually start to happen.

You don’t need to do anything different if you want to start right out using a GP. You don’t have to use a forward cant or any of that stuff. If you want to use a feathered Euro, it takes more learning. I often have taken new non-paddlers out and I bring a non feathered Euro and a GP. I always give the new person the Euro because it looks like what they expect a paddle to be. Once they try the GP, I never get it back.

It’s good to learn Euro paddling handling and skills even if you end up with a GP as your favorite. Go for what you economically can do an give both a good try. There’s nothing wrong with liking both for different reasons.

good advice all
Jay’s comment that he never gets his GP back is right on the money. Not true for the reverse. I occassionally paddle a Euro for the fun of it and to remind me why I like the GP. It is more functional and way easier to use. Besides, a GP goes with a Yost SOF in a way a Euro paddle never will.

I had the same question
Right after I bought my first “real” boat I wanted to get a new paddle to go with it. Many here suggested trying a GP and I’m very glad I did. Truth be told, I chose a GP because I could get it made cheaper than the Euro I (thought I) wanted, but I’ve really fallen in love with it. It did take a couple of trips to get comfortable with it and I’ve got a long way to go in improving my stroke, but the same could be said no matter which paddle I chose. As far as make vs. buy, I would recommend buying your first. If you make a paddle and you don’t like it, you don’t have any objective way of knowing if you don’t like the paddle you made or you don’t like a GP in general.

I got mine from Lumpy Paddles, and found Bill to be great to work with.

DIY Paddle Instructions
We make and use paddles that have a spruce shaft and ply blades - very easy to do, light and tough. Takes me about a day’s work. There’s a description of how our paddles are made at

Any questions, drop me an email…

well since you have a traditional boat
it would make sense to go with a traditional paddle—besides its probably easier to switch from using a greenland paddle to a EP then vice versa


– Last Updated: May-29-08 10:04 AM EST –

I use both but prefer a short, narrow bladed Euro for most of my paddling. My flippered friend seems to like Greenland paddles better

Lot of variation
in kayak paddles.

Like It’s like cycling. Some people want a one speed beach cruiser with a big seat. While others want a performance bike with a narrow seat.

The Greenland would be cool with a SOF, but if you are young and willing to learn good technique then you may benefit more from a Euro with more catch.

In the end, you will need to determine what paddle is best for you and the conditions you want to paddle in.

No Better Time…
I know a number of paddlers who started with the GP as their first paddle, myself included years ago, and a huge number of people who wish they had discovered the skinny-stick sooner.

As Celia and others have hinted at, there are way more similarities in technique than there are differences between the two styles of paddles.

Especially at the beginning. And as your skill level increases many say the GP can be a much more intuitive paddle to learn to use well. There is no need to change paddles as your skill level increases. The skinny-stick can take you as far as you want to go…

If you decide to carve your own, make sure to check out Matt’s video and/or Brian Nystrom’s book that Greyak linked to. Both are wonderful resources for the first time paddle-maker bent on carving his or her own.

There’s no better time than being a newbie to discover the magic of the skinny-stick.


…to see a young person in the forum asking questions, listening to the opinions, taking time to research & learn, etc. Even nicer that his father supports him.

Just wanted to add

– Last Updated: May-30-08 11:02 AM EST –

that those Euro paddles by vk1nf that he makes out of spruce, looked really good!

They have a nice asymmetrical blade with a spoon shape, just like the high end Lendals or Werner.

I think that would be a great way to fine tune your paddle choice, because each size and shape is going to be better for specific conditions. If you have the tools and some extra epoxy it would be practical to make several sizes.

The worst mistake would be using an oversized Euro blade and causing permanent joint damage. But, if it is really rough out in the ocean or strong wind and tide the larger blade might be less strain for those conditions, because you eliminate a jerking motion to try and catch more pull with a smaller blade. So, it would be like trying to pull a big truck with a small car and getting a running start only to jerk the bumper off and not move the truck.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each style paddle depending on the conditions and the skill of the individual. That’s why a lot of people carry two paddles of different size.

Building your own paddles both GP and Euro could be a good way to try them out and have a nice paddle.

If there were one perfect paddle we would all be using it.

Edit: I also find that a smaller blade works better for a lot of stop and go, whilst the large blade would be too much strain.

Either are good choices, but…
you might want to consider how many instructors comfortable in teaching the use of the GP are in your area before you decide to go that route. If there are not that many or the GP is not their primary skillset you might think about starting with something that doesn’t get in the way of everything else you need to learn.


there are not any instructors close enough out where i live, so i am not going to an instructor. i can teach my self. i taught myself to swim without any help, so how hard could it be. all i may have trouble with is learning to roll.

Check out
and see if there are none. You can definately teach yourself but someone else’s feedback might make your progress go faster.


is Isanti Mn close to…You might be suprised how many instructors for rolling are out there…might even be some good ones close by

Best Wishes


where isanti is
isanti is about an hour north of minneapolis, and is 10 minutes south of cambridge, which is 15 minutes west of North Branch, which is on 35W