Feathered Greenalnd Paddle ?

-- Last Updated: May-21-10 11:25 AM EST --

Just curious if someone has tried for a length of time to use a 90 degree feathered GP.

Unlike pretty much any other paddle, the GP is symmetrical. That means that a new technique can be applied with it that simply can't be used with non-symmetrical paddle blades.

The technique involves rotating the paddle in one direction only - either clockwise or counterclockwise around the long axis. That means that one stroke will use the "face" of the blade, the next the "back" of the blade and so forth. But since the face and back are symmetrical that should be OK.

That would make it possible to use a 90 degree feathered paddle in a 100% symmetrical way in terms of hand/wrist control. With non-GP paddles, you have to cock the wrist back and forth, leading to fatigue. Curious if cocking it one way only and with either hand (alternating the "control" hand at each stroke) would make a difference.

Think about it and share your thoughts along with your substantiated arguments about pro-cons. And yes, making one to try is was the first thing I thought about ;)

No need

– Last Updated: May-21-10 11:42 AM EST –

A Greenland paddle's design is both practical and simplistic. Both hunters and travelers found something that worked and stuck with it. The symetry makes rolling and bracing more natural to me.

A week ago I was paddling with a group in 25mph winds and was sure glad I was using a GP. The people using those big spoons sure looked tired :-)

Works fine for me,


The canted stroke
I’m thinking that a feathered GP would cause the use of a canted stroke to be cumbersome.

as well as a sliding stroke
and the balance brace might be more difficult.

It’s pointless for a couple of reasons
1- As Sternman said, GPs already have a significant advantage in wind. If you want more, use a storm paddle, which has even less wind resistance than a 90 degree feathered paddle would, since there is nothing sticking into the wind on the off side.

2- Greenland paddling technique is designed to work with a symmetric paddle with the hands wrapped around the roots of the blades, which naturally creates the appropriate cant angle for an efficient stroke. There is no “control hand” in GP technique. All strokes, braces and rolls are completely symmetric on either side of the boat.

To use a paddle with a 90 feather, you would have to hold the paddle by the loom and use Euro technique with a control hand, which is not going to be as efficient with a GP, since canting the blade consistently will be difficult, if not impossible. You would also need to learn the asymmetric bracing and rolling techniques used with a feathered Euro paddle.

The bottom line is that feathering a GP really defeats some of it’s major advantages.

GP and Euro techniques were designed to work with their companion paddle designs. Mixing paddles and techniques doesn’t work well, at least not when it comes to efficient forward strokes and easy rolling.

Probably right …
You guys are probably right. I don’t particularly care about symmetry for rolling or bracing but do care about it when forward going -:wink:

I also do not do sliding stroke except for maneuvering so that would not be a big deal for me too. My (admittedly limited) attempts to date to use full sliding stroke in very windy and bumpy conditions have convinced me that, unless it is windy but not bumpy, I am better off using a normal stroke (with lowering my paddle compared to my normally higher angle paddling style for stability and hiding from the wind b/w waves).

I just dry-paddled for a few minutes in the living room trying my “new” technique with a non-feathered GP, pretending it was feathered at 90 degrees. It works prefectly fine it seems.

You are right that it might be a little more tricky to get the “perfect” angle for a canted stroke every time. Can’t “test” that in the living room -;(. But the GP being “indexed” on all sides (squarish loom) will most likely help with this.

What I noticed in my dry paddle that troubled me most, however, was that it required too much cocking of both wrists. It feels exactly the same as in Euro feathered paddle with a control hand but I had forgotten how much extra work that is -:wink:

When compared to a relaxed long-distance canted stroke, this constant cocking feels like so much more extra work!

On the other hand, the movement felt quite natural and is fully symmetric. I think it would work gret for high-energy paddling. Especially with a paddling style with lots of rotation and where the rear hand goes far up after the stroke or with a very vertical style it might actually work pretty good.

I’ll have to try it to convince my self either way and as I don’t have the “scrupules” to “mess” with proper GP paddling style I probably will try it -;). Whish I had a 2-piece GP that feathers so I can quickly make my conclusion without having to carve one first …

wrist misconceptions
In reply to this: “With non-GP paddles, you have to cock the wrist back and forth, leading to fatigue. Curious if cocking it one way only and with either hand (alternating the “control” hand at each stroke) would make a difference.”

My understanding (and experience) is that whether or not you use a feathered paddle, your wrists should both remain in line with your lower arm, and you should not be cocking the wrist back and forth to control the blade angle. This is damaging and can causes wrist problems. I’ve heard proponents of non-feathered and of feathered paddles both use the same argument - that their preferred paddle allows the wrists to remain neutral, and avoid injury.

So I think rule number one is to keep your wrists neutral, and then you just have to see whether it feels more natural to use a feathered or unfeathered blade.

As far as a feathered Greenland paddle, I guess I don’t see any advantages to it. When you talk about switching control hands with each stroke, are you saying you would spin the paddle shaft 90 degrees with each stroke? I don’t think I know anyone who uses a 90 degree feather. That would be a really extreme angle to turn the blade each stroke.


– Last Updated: May-22-10 6:22 PM EST –

Well. with a feathered paddle you have to rotate the shaft back & forth to compensate for the blade offset. You do this w/ your wrist, right. That's what I refered to as Cocking". Onxe in position, pull w/ aligned wrist.

As for the 90 degree - that's a problem. But less than that and you will have a-symmetry and can't do the stroke I described. You'd have to paddle like a regular feathered paddle, about which I don't really have questions

well . . .

– Last Updated: May-21-10 4:54 PM EST –

I agree that many people use a feathered paddle by flopping their "control hand" wrist back and forth to control the angle, which seemed problematic to me, since a lot of paddling technique aims to keep the wrists neutral. Recently a coach explained that the theory of using a feathered paddle is actually to keep your wrists straight, and allow your body's rotation, as your control hand reaches over the boat, to get the offside blade rotated for proper catch. It's the body, not the wrist that should align the feathered blade for each side.

It seems counter-intuitive that your blade can rotate if your wrist doesn't "cock", but you can illustrate how this works sitting right in front of your computer. If you use right hand control, hold your hands like you're mid-stroke on your right side, with a nice high angle stroke. Observe which way your right-hand knuckles are pointing. Then move to a mid-stroke position on your left side and check your right knuckles again. (Wrists neutral both sides!)

When I do that, my knuckles point to the 1 o'clock position on the onside stroke, and about 9 or 10 o'clock during the offside stroke. So if I held the paddle shaft rigid, that would result in a 45 degree feather. That's the theory of feathered paddling, as it was explained to me. Keep the wrists neutral and the feather angle matches your body's natural rotation.

All that said, I prefer a looser, more symmetrical style, and find that 0 or 15 degree feather feels more comfortable to me.

Don’t do it.

By definition, it can’t be symmetric
As soon as you introduce feathering and a control hand, your technique cannot be symmetric. Symmetric technique requires a symmetric paddle.

Nate’s right
Cocking your wrists is not good technique with a feathered paddle. Doing that is likely result in major wrist problems.

90 degree feather
with a GP can be symmetric if you rotate with both hands. The “face” will alternate at each stroke…

how silly it would be doing any extended paddle brace or roll…try holding this hypothetical paddle for a forward finishing roll with an extended paddle…

so many things that couldn’t be done with a paddle like sugested…and nothing that it would serve.

I fail to see the attraction to this idea at all in a Greenland Paddle…

Best Wishes


Don’t buy it
I was out today with an unfeathered paddle (all my paddles are unfeathered). My forward stroke is modeled after the one that Reitz teaches in his video. My wrist does not cock one way or another. There is a slight left/right bend but hardly noticeable. The arguments for feathered paddles have never made sense to me. Consider the following, with a right hand control feathered paddle, go through a stroke on the right side and exit at the hips and pause just before entry on the left side. At this point if the paddle blade is positioned properly for the stroke the the wrist need not be bent forward or backward. Note at this point that the top of the left paddle blade is rotated forward compared to the right blade. The left hand can now grip the paddle and the right hand is loose, just like the left was when you started. Complete the stroke and exit at the hips. Now your left hand is the “control” hand, the right hand is loose, and your left hand is in the same position as your right hand was just before the stroke you just completed. Now this means that the right paddle blade is rotated back compared to the left blade. How can it be that the blade is in perfect position with no wrist bending in both situations? The answer is that it cannot.

You guys are “almost” right

– Last Updated: May-23-10 10:19 AM EST –

Look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npfwYuMDm9k&playnext_from=TL&videos=14EoucAF5wo

Around minute 1:11 it has a really good view from behind. How many of us rotate this much or use their hands that way?

The video is a little choppy, but it seems that his right hand works more than his left in controlling the paddle. Look and compare the angles b/w the two. And his paddle is probably not 90 degree but something like 70 or so. Make that 90 and he will have to do something with his wrists to complement the rotation and raising of the hands.

Just as I said in my post, with high angle and strong rotation of the body a highly feathered paddle will work better. Try it with a low angle "lazy" stroke - the only way to do it is with some help from the wrists.

Anyway, thanks for the advice all!

Good luck with that
Sorry, but this makes even less sense to me the more you get into figuring out how to make it work. If you have to resort to some weird technique that is likely to cause blisters on your hands and you still have a lot of downsides to the paddle design, what’s the point?

Greenland paddles evolved over many centuries. If there was an advantage to making them feathered, I’m sure the Greenlanders would have done so and developed technique to go with it, as their gear is supremely efficient for the environment in which it was developed.

If you’re going to use…
…a “a low angle lazy stroke”, you’re better off with an unfeathered paddle. Cocking your wrist is ALWAYS bad technique. If you read ANY book on kayaking technique, they all say the same thing, that cocking your wrist is bad technique that will likely result in a debilitating wrist injury. If you choose not to believe that, it’s your wrist.

You don’t really seem to be interested in hearing why you shouldn’t feather a GP either, so just do whatever you want and learn the hard way. Honestly, why did you ask for advice if you had already made up your mind what you were going to do?

It doesn’t work that way at all
The misconception that you have is that the control hand switches; it doesn’t. During the push phase of the stroke the control hand rotates the paddle shaft in the opposite hand as that hand hooks the shaft (it doesn’t grab it) and pulls it through the water. At no point does the blade angle on the control hand side change in relation to the control hand. At the end of the stroke on the opposite side, the control hand re-grasps the paddle so that it’s properly oriented when the blade descends into the water. Watch the video that Kocho posted and you’ll see what I mean.


– Last Updated: May-23-10 2:12 PM EST –

I'm checking with you guys to see if someone will come-up with something I have not thought of yet. My mind is far from being made-up. Actually, as I write this, I'm taking a break from making the final shaping of a regular GP -;)

The reason I responded back to some of the "cocking" is that I think it is unavoidable with a 90 degree feather. Some posts made it look like cocking is all due to a bad technique. While much can be minimized with strong rotation and high angle position of the paddle, it can't be fully elliminated. Just not possible. Actually, if you go back in the thread, that is the very fact that I have to move my wrists more with a 90 degree feather that I did not like and that bothered me in my "living room test".

Anyway, I'm deferring posting about this topic for now, untill I do some water trials to back-up or refute my own ideas and what was shared here -;)