GP behaviors

I have recently carved out two GPS. I am really astounded at their respective personalities and am seeking input as to what physical characteristics are at play and how my technique is affecting behavior. Both are soft, almost shoulderless and with round tips. First is 88 inches with 3.4 inch blade at tip. Second is 86 by 3.25. Both have similar loom thickness of 1-5/8. First tapers steadily to about 1/2 inch thick tip. Second is thinner by an 1/8th.

First one is very forgiving of technique with no flutter and always very quiet. It responds to an extended sweep, at any angle to water, with smooth and solid reaction. I can aggressively dig in with smooth and solid propulsion.

Second is more prone to flutter and it too is quiet. Extended sweep has the blade wobbling unless at reasonable canted angle. That is greatly improved by a highly relaxed grip with water hand for any stroke. Others have same feedback on paddles.

Are there any paddle behaviors that are consistently linked to paddle’s physical attributes? Technique?

Some thoughts
1/2" is pretty thick. I prefer pretty thin edges and tips (keep material down spine if you need volume/strength/stiffness). Thinner edges give cleaner catch and release and better power. More finesse, and will encourage better technique too.

Overall blade width is sort of personal (and totally relative to other dimensions), but I find narrower blades require better technique - and so train you to paddle the GP more efficiently/effectively - which will transfer back to wider blades. The reverse is not the case, as wider blades will reinforce/preserve some EP habits you need to drop.

Having more than one GP is good, and seems it’s helping you find this sort of stuff the best possible way - on water. Shape details matter, but all interact so there are many variations of a good paddle (and many more of a less good paddle!).

Flutter with GP is 100% technique. For those new to GP it’s usually from overpowering the blades (from stop/slow speed - and few notice it at cruising speeds). When accelerating try a little higher cadence/lighter strokes, or add some “S” motion to the blade path which lengthens the stroke (fun at speed too as you can pull ahead of others without changing cadence). GP will get you up to speed as fast as other paddles, but takes some minor technique differences to apply power effectively (mostly a matter of losing EP habits and feeling what the paddle is telling you).

Cant does work to dial flutter out, but don’t over-think/overwork the cant stuff. The right paddle shape and grip should take care of it automatically.

thanks and here are more details
1/2 inch taper was taken from initial rough taper. Edges are fairly sharp along blade length. Tip less so, perhaps 1/8 in radius. I have a Mitchell Horizon that is very thin and sharp and I cannot seem to make that one flutter. I made my two to experiment with shorter and less wide. Also more hefty loom. All an improvement except the wiggles on shortest and least wide unit.

My technique can stand improvement. I just find it curious that same technique with different paddles yields no flutter on two and flutter other. With most recent GP, it fluttered worse on right side. So I turned the paddle the other three directions proving it was me and not asymmetrical wood shaping.

Right handed?

– Last Updated: Nov-09-09 4:11 PM EST –

The paddle with the "flutter" my just be trying to sort you out in terms of technique and power application. Let it. Narrower blades will be less forgiving in this regard, and this can be a good thing as far as developing your technique goes.

Best teacher (general comment, not specific to you): Mileage. Lots of long paddles (and at a decent pace - no lily dipping as you can't learn squat about paddle/stroke doing that). In other words, 10 miles or more - 15+ better - few or no stops - maintaining over 4 knots average pace. Not race pace stuff, but movin' along.

Shorter outings, slower pace, and/or a bunch of stop and go won't cut it, as it's easy to tell yourself all sorts of things about what's going on with the paddle, you, whatever. Mostly things that begin to fall away after the first hour, and some that may begin to reemerge after the third...

Check back after you have a couple thousand GP miles (and probably a few more paddles along the way). I doubt you'll experience flutter with any Greenland paddle by then, and will know a lot more about what details work best for you (which you can expect to change as well, as this is an adaptive process and you won't be the same paddler over time).

If you take the reasonably flat surface of the gp and draw it perpendicular to the boat you are forcing the water to “spill” on either side causing a bit of a side to side motion which is the “flutter” you are feeling. Try holding the paddle so that the edge coincides with your hand and first knuckle which will allow you to cant the blade away from you as you draw through the water making the water spill on one side only giving you a much cleaner stroke. As Greyak says, this is pretty much intuitive and I am probably overdescribing it. You also may want to look at the thicknesses on either side of the ridge and see if there needs to be some shaving done.

Ok let the purists get in line to trounce me…


Different size and shape
greenland paddles do require different techniques to get the most efficiency from them. I find that I can play with the cant angle more on a narrower blade. I also like the performance of paddles with sharp blade edges. I have also found that the shape of the tip can make a big difference in how much a paddle ventilates during the catch/power phase of the stroke. A good shaped tip will allow you to apply full power to your stroke sooner. The size and shape of the loom and shoulder are very personal and will add to your comfort. All of these paddle characteristics are what make greenland paddles so much fun.

It is all about the Lumpy shape
I noticed in my very limited experience trying these paddles that some seem much better than others. Bill’s Lumpy paddles look very plain and simple but they feel great other GPs I’ve tried very from poor to OK.

There really is something to getting the shape just right

greenland paddles.

– Last Updated: Nov-10-09 3:05 PM EST –

If you look at greenland paddles, and reproductions of greenland paddles, you will see that there are so many variations that it is clearly a very personal choice in so far as blade shape, loom length and shapes, and tips. I like a strong paddle that won't come apart in my hands like two already have. But then again, I will and do abuse the hell out of them. this is one of the reasons I want to make my own from now on.
I made a bastardized hybrid gp with one slightly concave flat side like an aleutian paddle with the other side with a greenland form (sort of a half a greenland paddle) but with a long loom like an aleutian. I made it out of fir and it is strong and yes it is heavy but i like the feel and the strength of it.
I just found a lumber yard 10 miles from me that stocks lots of 2x4 and 4x4 western red cedar where I can probably find a few pieces for lightweight paddles, but I am also looking for sitka spruce and clean fir. I am pretty sure most greenland paddles were not made out of Western Red Cedar. :)

Don’t overlook pine
My two favorite paddles are laminated pine. Decently light and stronger than cedar. Spruce weighs more than pine and so does fir. I also have a fir paddle which is a tiny bit heavier than my pine ones but also a good work horse. I have several cedar too but they didn’t quite end up as nice of a shape and feel as the others. Cedar just dings so easily and you have to find a tight grain or they can be quite weak.

laminated pine
I had tried to make a gp out of a solid piece of pine and it warped on me a bit but a laminated one woudl be much better. Cool. I have a few pieces left over from the yost sea ranger that I can laminate tonight and see if I can carve a decent paddle out of this weekend. Be good practice anyway and who knows? it may turn out ok. I think I will do a shoulderless paddle and if it turns out well I will do a sibling storm paddle.


both are cedar
First is WRC sourced from local speciality lumber yard who had a whole building full of fragrant, kiln dried and dressed lumber. Had to buy an 11 foot 2x4 for the best grain. I do not have an easy way to rip wider boards. Second was a real find at coastal building supply in Beaufort. Very straight and tight grain more yellow 2x4 than red for $7.50. I found some picture perfect redwood here in the upstate for paddle for my lovely wife. Not sure how brittle redwood is.

I have tried a Lumpy and then a carbon fiber copy of same. Lumpy was a delight to use but I am not sophisticated enough to tell why other than it just felt right. Julie had same impression although liked a Aleut inspired paddle far better.

I agree more time and distance always sharpens the skills saw.

favorite paddles

– Last Updated: Nov-10-09 5:40 PM EST –

While I don't know most of the paddle makers out there, I have used Beales, Tuktu, Akyka, Lumpy, Mitchell, Feathercraft Klatwa, and a slew of others made by friends. all paddles have different uses and I have even found that some paddles choose their boats as well. I currently have a couple of Beales, a couple of aleutian Akykas(made by Greyhawk), and a Lumpy that I received back from Tripps family that I keep for memories. I have made two paddles at Chris Rabb's class at Delmarva and the year before at Don Beales class. I like both those paddles a lot. There is only one commercial paddle (mass produced) that I own that I do not like the way it paddles which is mentioned above but to be fair, I am not sure I have the best representation of this paddle.


original question

– Last Updated: Nov-11-09 6:24 AM EST –

are there any paddle behaviors that are consistently linked to paddle’s physical attributes? Techniques?


that was easy.


Trounce you? Why?
You simply described a canted stroke, which is the way GPs are supposed to be used.

One thing that really helps canting is to use a shouldered paddle, as the base of your fingers wrapped around the blade created the cant angle effortlessly.

there are so many opinions
and I am not an expert so I expected a bit of flack even though I thought I described it well…