Follow-up to GP learning curve

Many thanks to all who offered experienced, insightful and very helpful comments to my veering and pain question last week.

The qajaq site videos were very helpful in expanding my stroke repertoire. Even more so were ones of me taken by my lovely wife from shore and her boat. They let me see what her keen eye had been seeing for some time. My stroke was asymmetrical left vs right. Partly due to chronically tense right hand. The other already known factor was too short loom on my stock Mitchell Horizon.

I extended the loom based upon Bnystrom’s book and other good resources. (wife was reluctant for me to carve up such a beautiful and new paddle) Now my hands are a comfortable distance apart on the loom and not full of paddle blade in a clenched hands. Now both hands relax on pushing phase. I now enter, stroke and exit much more smoothly and balanced and go straight.

Will see how it goes with my first 5 mile race this weekend. If I can get within an hour of Jackl’s time I will be pleased.

Loom size?
What was the loom length before and after your widening it?


17 inches?
According to Mitchell’s website, the Horizon has a 17" loom. I’m a GP noob, but that sounds short to me.

I’m in the process of ordering a Beale, and actually measured a loom dimension of 17" (I’m a narrow guy). Don recommended opening that up to 20".

Thanks for info

– Last Updated: Sep-27-07 11:24 PM EST –

I am currently paddling with an unshouldered Superior paddle. Normally my hands are about 17 inches apart which would translate into 19 in loom for a shouldered paddle. I had been paddling with my hands about 15 inches apart, but do find it a little more comfortable at the slightly larger separation. I have a Beale storm paddle with shoulders and like the feel of the shouldered grip. I am thinking of ordering Beale full size so was interested in your experience.

Please post again when you get the Beale and let us know how it feels.


Original loom size
as measured to edge of taper, just at point of laminated layer, was 19 inches on the Mitchell. To the same point is now 22.5. I also increased the length of the “shoulder” section by extending that slope to better suit my hands.

The only downside has been slightly reduced ability to reverse paddle. Previously my palms were fully on blade flat and I could apply lots of down force.

20" is good
I use 20 or 21 inches, which works really well for an average-sized guy like me. If you’re taller or wider than average, then go longer until it feels right. Most folks end up somewhere around 20 to 22.

VERY subjective as to how to use them, if at all. I have both shouldered and unshouldered GP’s, and like both. You’ll get what seems to be a different opinion from every GP’er you meet on the topic, so go with what feels “right” to you.

With the shouldered paddle, I have 2 fingers on the blade roots, and 2 on the loom. I like that because it’s comfortable for me, and it also allows me better control over my blade angle. With the unshouldered, it’s a little harder to know exactly what your blade angle is, but after 8 years of using the same paddle, I pretty much know intuitively where I am.

hi andy
takes a fair bit of trial and error paddling before you settle on what works best for you–a bit like dialing in seat position in bike racing. this is not only experience with a particular paddle, but the practice of unlearning euro habits and developing gp habits informs paddle selection. as your stroke changes, your paddle preference also may change. i started out at 84" 19" loom and 3 1/2" blades and am now at 88" 20" loom and 3" blades. next paddle will be 87" 20" loom and 3 1/8" blades. amazing that you can feel these small changes but you can. on the other hand, most mid-sise paddlers will do just fine with an 86" 20" 3 1/2" paddle. it’s a lot easier on the visa if you make your own paddles, but i don’t have time or skills, but i do have resources so have tried a bunch. my favorite paddles by far are made by bill bremer of lumpy paddles. also like mark rogers carbon gp, but the loom is a bit too large for my hands. will try a paddle making course at delmarva, but expect to keep bill busy.