Getting up to speed with a GP

Once I get up to speed with my GP, I move at a fairly respectable pace. However, it seem to take a few extra strokes (vs. an EP) to attain cruising speed with a GP.

Any suggestions, thoughts or comments?

In my brief experience …
that’s the way it is. Starting from zero, it takes me maybe three strokes with my GP to get to the same speed as two strokes with my Lendal EP. Doesn’t much matter to me, though. I can keep up with any of my paddling buds and I don’t get tired as early.

It’s true that in sprint situations, the GP isn’t as powerful as a Euro, but in my experience GPers often try to make the GP work like a Euro, which doesn’t work, whereas you can do much better by staying with the proper cant angle, keeping power in the rear 2/3ds of stroke, and simply increasing the stroke rate.

Those first couple of strokes
do feel funny with a GP. I use a few short, choppy strokes out in front of me to get the boat moving, then lengthen out to the regular strokes and take it further back.

Then again, I don’t often make a sprint start. The GP is a long distance runner, not a short sprinter.


Most try to overpower GP takeoff

– Last Updated: Oct-03-08 3:25 AM EST –

Overpowering the blades = wasted effort, feels bad, and gets you up to speed no faster (and slower than optimal power application). Trick is to give it what moves the kayak (and not any more that will just cause it to slip and/or churn water) - and ramp it up as speed increases.

Often, small bits of EP feel habits get poor GP results. Small things that often lessen or disappear over time. Differences between EP and GP exist, but should be MINOR in sea kayak/touring applications.

More often these "differences" are more about user inputs and overall sizing differences (how well each paddle fits you and matches your power) than the paddle types themselves.

I don't buy into the "GPs = higher cadence" stuff any more than I do the old "low angle stuff". Just ain't so in any general/universal sense (and less so than it might have been given EP users trend toward shorter lengths).

Cadence is about paddle length, blade size, cruising speed, kayak drag, paddler power and paddling preferences - and stroke/technique variances - not paddle type directly (though type can impact most of those variables). You can use a bigger blade and/or longer GP and it will have a slower cadence for you. A shorter and/or smaller blade euro will have a higher cadence. Most people making cadence comments are not wrong, they're just comparing apples to kumquats.


Here's a lesser known trick (a no brainer for those who do it, and small revelation for those who don't):

Add a slight flattened arc or shallow "S" curve to the stroke vs. a straighter pull. Basically move your pull hand out and back ("C") - or out/back/out ("S") during the pull (which feels right sort of depends on what you're doing and how your paddle feels). Result is a bit longer stroke - and a bit more time to apply power while blade is fairly optimally buried.

Adding a little wiggle like this works really well for things like getting up to speed quicker from a dead stop (particularly the full "S" version), or really digging into the first couple strokes of a speed burst, or holding the same speed with a reduced cadence. This last use makes for a nice change of pace sometimes. Also fun to see others wondering how you're holding good speed with a skinny stick using what appears to be a pretty slow lazy stroke. The "wiggle" is subtle and not readily apparent to others paddling with you.

Try it, you'll like it. There are other stroke variations to get more speed from a GP too. The kick thing, the super vertical stroke that nearly feels like you're paddling under the hull, etc.

Also consider powering so it feels like 40% is from pull hand and 60% from your push hand as it punches across and down. Much more a levering action than pulling. The top hand really can do a lot with a GP, particularly in regards to blade smoothness and harnessing some more crunch (slight downward rotation variation) power.

Should feel like a pole planted in mud as kheyashunka said. If it doesn't feel like this now, with a very solid connection, keep adding mileage and playing around and it will. I've found much more "bite" from them over time. Give it 1000 miles or so to get aquainted. Then it will start to share other secrets.

Another option: Switch to an Aleut ;)

Thats the nature of a greenland
paddle. The narrow design allows for a slower catch into the power phase of the stroke. A wider blade will give you better acceleration. I use a wider blade paddle when I want more bite from my paddle stroke, when surfing or paddling along rock gardens.

GP sprinting

– Last Updated: Oct-03-08 3:16 PM EST –

If you take 8 paddlers - 4 seasoned GP users and 4 Euros and they sprint from a starting line, they will all be neck and neck until the more fit or generally faster paddlers start to pull ahead. The notion the the GP can't accelerate fast is nonsense and usually the opinion of those who only have tried the GP or are novices with it. I have done this example with other paddlers loads of times and seasoned paddlers will all be side by side in a sprint race for quite a while.

We did this kind of stuff long before all the canted blade stuff and all the stroke refinement stuff was popular. My advice is to make sure you lean forward to get a good long stroke and use torso strength to get a good sprint started. Also - I use a decently wide blade not one that's too narrow - similar to the Cricket paddle. I am not trying to convince anyone about paddle choices but only dispelling the rumor that a GP user can't sprint very fast from a standing start. If that wasn't the case, why would anyone want to use one?? Why would anyone want to use a weak powerless paddle?

I'm not a racer or fast paddler - I just paddle with friends sight seeing enjoying the ride, but If I need to put the pedal to the metal to catch surf or crash through surf going out, I can do it easily with the GP.

Are you racing?
If not, just enjoy the GP feeling and smell the roses.


extra kick
If you need the extra kick to get moving, make sure the lower hand gets wet, and at the end of the stroke do a forward ab crunch while finishing the stroke. This gives a little burst of power at the end, and will have your six-pack looking swell in no time. Myself, I don’t appear to have much interest in sprinting, and my six pack is of a different type. I may try Greyak’s S-stroke — that sounds appealing, looking lazy but moving quickly…

Combine all that, and Jay’s common sense
… and GP users can be out-sprinting most EPs users off the line.

I’ve never been at a deficit, and never seen anyone else who was either. Any differences have been horsepower and technique related. The notion GPs are somehow underpowered and for more casual poking about is just wrong, Any paddle works for lily dipping, and at low speeds/light efforts it’s near impossible to really tell what’s what anyway. I always wonder what sort of paddling folks do who make such comments and assumptions. Like Jay said, if the GP myths were true, people wouldn’t keep switching to and sticking with GPs .

Who does hard starts very much anyway? Only time I do is in starts of the very rare weekend warrior races I’ve done (and I don’t compromise my limited endurance by going too hard too soon anyway), or when doing timed 1K laps for exercise/reference so I can see just how slow I really am and remind myself what hard work in a kayak and higher sustained speed really feel like! I don’t do either much, but it is still fun/interesting to work on going from a dead stop to full speed quickly and efficiently once in a while.

Most people (unless you’re doing K1 Sprints of are a big powerful WW paddler) are using larger than optimal paddles. People having too much blade is much more common than too little (consider how many pushups/pullups can the average paddler swinging a big blade do?). This is often compounded by over-long paddles (they’re tripping over by either sinking too deep or inducing more yaw by planting outboard too far), but that trend has been changing for several years now.

Those with too much paddle tend to be resistant to change as smaller FEELS weaker to them. Particularly in this sprint thing, even though most don’t do this, and one or two more strokes to get up to speed ain’t gonna matter - and is probably accomplished in the same amount of time and more efficiently with a smaller blade anyway.

Big blades can make sense at higher speeds where you need to grab more water - but I’m talking speeds of top level racers here - for limited distances too). Outside of that, more blade = more work, which is not often translated into more speed, and is likely impairing technique too.

GPS comparisons (over miles, not yards) work pretty well to sort all this out, and once you realize you can get same speeds for less work it’s hard to go back (as much as I loved my old Werner San Juan).

That said, and has much as I like GPs, I prefer my Aleut for most things I do now (but typically have a GP along too). My favorite Aleut has smaller blades than my favorite GP - yet is faster at same heart rate, and sprints better. Might be the blade designs up to a point - but I think it’s more how that slightly changes technique (similar to how a wing gets more than a euro for these things - but mostly from how in reinforces better technique, and only partly from the blade itself).

As for the notion of “smelling the roses” that frequently comes up (I have to remind myself the average age here sometimes) - there are few if any roses along my paddling routes, so I’m not to concerned about stopping to smell them. Come to think of it, most of the smells I do encounter while paddling usually have the opposite effect on me! L

PS - The “S” thing came to me, as best as I can recall, from a small comment from an Inuit seal hunter written down a century or two ago - but I can’t remember where I read it - or what the exact comment even was. Maybe one of the more historically oriented GP fans has seen it…

All true, but it should be added
that the one time you need to have solid acceleration and you aren’t racing is when you need to rescue someone in cold water. This may not happen in Florida but in the Great Lakes that can be a real problem.

You think Euros accelerate faster? Funny how I’ve never had one beat me off the line…ever. all comes down to proper technique. I cruise faster with a GP…I race with them, I set a speed record on Vancouver island with them…no contest. Period!

Didn’t say that
I was merely reacting to the following:

“Who does hard starts very much anyway? Only time I do is in starts of the very rare weekend warrior races I’ve done”

Well, since the speed difference is…
myth, as are any maneuvering issues (aside from obvious WW/Surf related moves) - I can’t really see how that temperature issue is relevant - besides it being the time of year when some get envious of warmer waters - or looking for a way to get in a dig on paddlers of same.

Do you seriously think using an EP will get you to a fellow paddler in need faster than if using a GP?

Also consider how much easier a GP is to deal with WHILE you’re assisting someone else (and where the damn things were invented!)…

I’ll assume you were joking, and posted the above for those who are unfamiliar with GPs and might believe such negative things about their performance, safety, etc.

I was making just one tiny, tiny point
That there is an important use for acceleration beyond racing. Just to be clear:

“Do you seriously think using an EP will get you to a fellow paddler in need faster than if using a GP?”

No. With my old GP and my skill level that might be true of me. But with my new Superior GP I don’t think so.

“Also consider how much easier a GP is to deal with WHILE you’re assisting someone else (and where the damn things were invented!)…”


“I’ll assume you were joking”

Well not really. But I am willing to go with that. Please note that I said “all true” about your comments. All of your posts in this thread have been very helpful.

From purely physics’ prospective
All things being optimal otherwise, a less efficient paddle must be slower on the start than a more efficient paddle. And I have not seen one person argue that there is a more efficient paddle than a wing -:wink: (for in-water, not on the body performance! which is what matters most in a short sprint IMO)

Because of in-water efficiency.

A paddle that lets more water flow around it rather than convert the energy to boat forward motion loses energy to turbulence and thus is less efficient than something that loses less energy to just stirring the water.

Did I say GP or EP so far? No. I do not know which will be faster off the line. Because I do not know shich one has the potential to be more efficient. I do not know if the long sleek GP shape transfers more energy to the boat than a short wide one on the EP. Which one creates more turbulence?

If you can answer the above, there’s your answer. Don’t mix experience with equipment!

Who does hard starts very much anyway?
We do hard starts almost every time we paddle. Launching through surf from a beach always requires a hard start.

That said, I only paddle with a GP. There’s plenty of acceleration. Just use a more vertical stroke than normal and you’ll have plenty of acceleration.

As someone else also posted, let that lower hand touch the water. There’s nothing you can do with a Euro that can’t be done with a GP (and IMHO, the GP allows you to do it better).

Update and clarification or vice versa
Clarification- I never indicated that my GP is slow. It is very fast. Just from a dead start, my 3" blade doesn’t appear to generate the amazing bite I get from my Ikelos where I achieve optimum speed very rapidly. This is my first year and first few hundred miles with a GP and there is ample room for enhancement in my technique.

I love the GP- it is the best thing I purchased in the last few years.

Update- I tried some of your recommendations today during a morning paddle. Waterdoc’s suggestion to use a greater vertical stroke seemed to help a lot.

I never fully got Greyak’s “S” but I did get a “C” with a little squiggle at the end. That suggestion also seemed to have merit.

Kheya’s comments re: a more powerful plant also helped.

I don’t need to sprint but sometimes I enjoy it. I try to smell the roses and my hands always get very wet during the stroke.

Thank you all for you thoughts.

If you get the opportunity

– Last Updated: Oct-07-08 7:26 AM EST –

to try a wider blade greenland paddle, you might like the amount of bite it provides. Some people really enjoy using a wider blade.

Paddles are not “efficent”…

– Last Updated: Oct-07-08 12:59 AM EST –

... they're just tools.

I get you're meaning RE the "physics" thing - but I have to look at it in a less theoretical fashion.

To talk about efficiency we must look at these tools in use - which introduces a user and other variable. Once you do that, it is incorrect to say the wing (or any other type) is "most" efficient as a general statement. Not even for sprints.

How "efficient" a paddle is depends on the paddler using them, and what they're being used for.

Selection of type should follow those factors, not drive them. For racing K1s and skis a wing's a no brainer. These hulls move fast enough that the added power and bite are needed and can be well applied. Same with using EPs for rec boats/SOTs where the blade area needs to be more outboard due to wider beams. The gray area is always sea kayaks - particularly the faster ones. Many work well with Wing/EP/GP/or other - and choice is no longer a clear cut gear issue. It's all about the paddler and type(s) of paddling they do.

Personally - I'd pair GP with skeg/nothing, wing with rudder, and EP with BCU/ACA coaches! Pretty much what each was designed for. ;)

Lately, I simply opt for "other".

Different paddle types will be more efficient for different people and uses - and familiarity/use brings adaptations which further alter the equation. Over time a wing becomes even more optimal for a wing user, GP for GP user, etc...

All the more reason I'm a happy Aleut user for most of my miles these days, and a hybrid Aleut/Wing when I want some variety and to work the EP and Wing muscles a bit more.