GP dimensions, length and width.

-- Last Updated: Nov-26-06 7:24 PM EST --

Edit to correct the length numbers.
Edit again to correct the Beale paddle serial number from 60 to 66. Gotta quit using my memory and just look it up.

The question is, will I feel the difference if I make this change?

I borrowed a GP in 2003 from Alder Creek, Beale #66, made from fir. Don’t know the loom length. Overall length was 86”. Blade width was 3.5”. I loved it. I liked the lighter faster stroke over the euro, and felt like I could paddle it well with a pretty vertical stroke, too.

Didn’t paddle in 2004 or 2005.

When I started paddling again, this July, I bought a Beale, 88 x 3.25, 20” loom, red cedar. The paddle seems a little long and a little too much power. Even when I want to, I feel like I don’t consistently stroke as vertical and really bury the blade in the water because I get too much power. Another factor may be that I’m losing weight and sitting an inch or too lower in the water.

Maybe I just think I prefered the 86 x 3.5 in 2003 because of the big difference between it and the euros. Do you think I would feel the difference between a 88 x 3.25 and a 86 x 3.5, both 20” loom, for forward stroke? Power might actually be about the same if shorter but wider blade. Though reducing length by an inch might make more difference because it’s out on the end, than adding 0.25 to the width.

I realize the 3.5 will be wider grip on the blade for extended paddle strokes. I think it might actually be a little bit better than 3.25 for me, but either is probably fine.

Hard core Greenlanders might say, “make one and find out!” If I try one though, it will be by plopping down $175 to Mr. Beale. I don’t have the time to spare right now and have other priorities; paddling, trying new boats, all those back-logged home projects.

Paul S.

Just use it for a bit
It took me a while to the stroke feeling right. Don would probably shorten it up for you if you asked. Better yet, hook up and paddle with him. He has a great supply of paddles. I may be ordering some single bladed Aleut paddles to use with my Klepper hybrid.

56" ? 58"?

– Last Updated: Nov-26-06 5:51 PM EST –

Are you around 4' tall?

My Storm paddles are 72" & 76" My regular GPs are 88" with @ 21" looms. I'm 5'9" with closer to 6' arm span. Kim's (including Beale #163 and a rare Sing Special) are 82" and 80" with 17" and 15" looms and she's 5'3(2?)".

Greenland paddle sizing is irrelevant without info on the paddler. If you could give your height/arm span and kayak type and such (like where you paddle, how long, what conditions, etc.) it would really help keep all this in context.

If I were buying wood GPs, I'd stick with Don. As it stands, I finally broke down and began carving my own once I built my SOF - and since I can do it with minimal tools and no real shop I'll likely continue. Toughest part for me is getting good wood, but I have enough right now for three more. Think I'll do another for Kim (likely a storm/cheater roller), an Aleut for me (curiosity), and I don't know about #3 yet. Maybe something in between the width of my other two, a couple inches shorter, with more volume in the blades. I also just did an experimental prototype paddle to test several ideas that I may turn into something commercial...

Anyway, back to you. Regarding width, you really have to try different paddles.

Don can talk to you about your paddling style, typical distances/conditions, kayak and such and make good recommendations, but even he can only go so far. He's good, maybe not psychic.

It's just not a matter of dimensions once you get past the basic anthropometric sizing. After that it's all about your actual efficiency and preferences. To find out what that is requires many miles (I had maybe 2000 on my Superior Carbon before ever cutting wood) and trying different things (even if just quick tryouts of other's paddles).

If you paddle longer distances and roll a lot more, you'll have a better chance of finding what works better for you beyond the basic sizing. If your typical paddles are only a few miles you'll likely never get to a level of feel where the little differences really matter. Stick to the recommended averages. If you don't spend much time sculling/bracing/rolling you may miss other subtle differences/balance of features - so again, stick to the averages. Too much thinking and not enough testing is like having too many cooks in the kitchen. Ideas are just not enough (and that coming for an "idea man" aka professional product designer).

If you have office worker hands like me, blisters can also offer very useful feedback on both paddle design and technique. IME, when both are decent (need not be great) the wear and tear will be very minimal and balanced/matched on both hands. Hot spots indicate places to shave a little wood, improve technique, or both.

As to your original question on width: Blade length and width interact and alter effort and cadence. What you think you're feeling may or may not be what's really going on. A GPS or knotmeter (again, over DISTANCE) is handy to sort out the real from the perceived. Sometimes wider blades work well, sometimes they just churn more water and FEEL faster (because you're pulling harder), but are just taking more effort for less return. My cruising speed is the same, but effort is lower with narrower blades (at same length). Makes it a better choice over distance. Wider feels more secure in sloppier stuff and a little better sprinting. More of a cheater for rolling too (at least if your technique is sloppy and you muscle a bit ;).

Back to making my new norsaq...

oops, I meant 86", 88"
I’ll correct that in the OP.

I’m 6’2" and very long arms. I come out 96" lenths using the formulas on Don’s page.

I did discuss with Don before purchasing and have been using the paddle since July.

Paul S.

Shoulder width?
I ask of course regarding loom sizing (mine are @23" and I can do 19-22+" looms (like 21"), maybe longer - but less starts feeling tight - and impacting how the blades feel - but everyone’s stroke is a bit different).

Both the 86/3.5 and 88/3.25 sound in a decent ballpark for you. The 2" Length/.25" Width differences should about cancel each other out.

Shoulders 21", loom is 20"

– Last Updated: Nov-26-06 7:11 PM EST –

Using the method that Don shows on his web page, bending my arms at the elbow, straight out like I'm gripping a paddle, and measureing thumb to thumb, I came out 20-22". Arms relaxed and straight out is a little subjective.

I didn't want to err on the long side because I figured if anything the dimension would decrease as I lose weight. I struggled with whether to ask for 20, 20.5, or 21. I figured 20.5 was splitting hairs and asked for 20".

My wife just measured my shoulders and came out 21".

If I had it to do over again I might have gone 21".

Paul S.

Length and loom adjustments.
Yeah, one reason I went 88" vs 86" is I was thinking I could always cut off an inch on each end later. One thing I didn’t count on though is the hard piece spliced in to the tip for durability.

I wonder if it’s reasonable to lengthened the loom an inch too? I could do that myself, 1/2" on each side. The grip on the blade next to the loom would be slightly wider is all.

Paul S.

If your really not sure
I would wait until you have the oppertunity to try a few different size paddles to see what suites you. There is so much personal preference with a greenland paddle I would never try tell what will work best for you.

Good suggestion. Just asking about diff
"I would wait until you have the oppertunity to try a few different size paddles to see what suites you."

That’s a good suggestion.

“There is so much personal preference with a greenland paddle I would never try tell what will work best for you.”

Agreed. Though I was wordy on the background and context, I was just asking if I could feel the difference on minus 2" length with plus 1/4" width.

Paul S.

Feeling differences

– Last Updated: Nov-27-06 2:24 AM EST –

Both my full lengths are 88". One has 3 1/2" blades, the other 3 1/4" and also has a little less volume (thinner front to back toward the ends - nothing dramatic). Both suit me well, both move the kayak well but despite very similar appearances, they are VERY different paddles. Enough that my technique alters (the narrower is a little less forgiving and reinforces better mechanics) in addition to cadence and effort changes.

So yes - you can definitely feel small differences.


Splitting hairs
The differences you are talking about are so small that the difference in one stroke from the next would negate any noticable difference from the paddle. I have made about a dozen paddles ranging from 86 to 88 inches (including one in Don’s class) and they all work just fine.

subtle differences
Hi Paul,

I can easily tell the difference between an 84" superior, and 86" superior and an 84" cricket one with a 3 1/2 and one 86" with a 3 3/4 inch blade. The crickets are different from the superior (I like the latter better) than within brand. I have an 86" Lumpy (Bill Bremer’s WRC paddles are terrific) that feels a lot like the superior, but the entry and exit is a bit finer. They all work, but they are noticably different and these differences matter in terms of my preferences. The standard metrics for judging length and loom length may not work for your particular body configuration. As with adjusting the seat position on a bike, tinkering is very common, which is partly why carving your own paddles is a good way to go. Like you, I don’t have time but I do have money, so my recommendation would be to work with Don or Bill to get a custom paddle that is “best guess” or to get a superior CF at 86" which I believes yeilds a 21" loom. Am 6’ with long arms (34-35"), and this configuration works very well for me.



Hey Pyker!

Randy, Guess I have an old e-mail address. Kicked back.

Looking for the dimensions of your Beale GP. Sure liked it’s feel. It is the only well made GP that I have a reference for. Figure a good place to start.

Tried to find one or three close by to feel up, but seems to be a definite void here.

My Nashwaak GP is a nice enough cruising paddle, but definitely not a Beale. Do not like the lack of angle and definition where hands grip it. Does not have the crisp, solid feel in the hands that to make it an extension of the hands and arms. I call it a “semi GP” as I think it is a combination of too many other paddle ideas. It is nice, looks great, cruises well, but lacks the character, feel, solid indexing, and performance of your Beale.

So, I feel it is definitely Beale time!!!



88" in a Superior to get 21" loom
86" should have a 19" loom.

Specific loom lengths of the carbon GPs are not listed on the Superior site, but the overall length and loom length ranges are given for the storm paddles and you can do the math from there (all Mark’s CF blades are identical - 33.5" x 3.5"). Subtract 67" from total length on any of his carbon paddles to get loom length.

Love mine. Set’s the standard for me shape-wise, though it can have almost too much bite over the long haul (took me a while to feel that way after switching to GP). Kim’s Beale handles similarly blade-wise (though 3/8" narrower - as the Superior is way too much blade for her) and I consider his very good benchmarks too. My self carved WRC gives them it a run for they’re money in other ways. VERY hard to beat self made/adjusted paddles that follow such good examples. Like having a Superior or Beale with the last few percent of refinement that can only be done if shaped by the hand that will be using it.

Which reminds me aquaMan, it’s a simple matter to make a 20" loom into a 21" loom. Very minor carving. Just cut the shoulders back 1/2" each side and reshape/smooth (to something maybe better feeling than you had).

Loom length’s all about shoulder width and natural grip spacing (and sometimes kayak beam). Height/span doesn’t necessarily matter for looms as some taller guys have narrower shoulders than some shorter guys, and peoples arms hang differently (some peoples hands drifting more in or out when held in the usual loom sizing method/position). The right size is what feels right.

A 20" loom will give plenty of room
for a 21" wide grasp. The majority of paddlers hold the paddle with their thumbs on the end of the loom and fingers draped over the blade roots.

Superior carbon fiber.
They’re spensive, but maybe some day. I heard they were a little slippery, both in the hand and blade in the water. I’d like to try one some day.

Thanks for the nudge on extending the loom. I was thinking that might not be too difficult.

Paul S.

Thanks everyone.
As usual, your experience and knowlege has inluenced me.

I’ll settle down with what I have and not rush to order another one.

There were a buch of GPs at WCSKS for class and demo. Don probably brought a lot of them. Wish I’d tried some different ones. At the time though I wasn’t in the demo mode on boat or paddle; more in the class mode. Timing’s everything. I need an off cycle WCSKS for both now :-).

I know, I have to get into carving if I really want to experiment.

Thanks again.

Paul S.

A bit subjective. Some amount of smoothness/slide can be nice.

I found the smooth epoxy finish (satin, not high gloss) on the CF a little slick at first, but not bad. Sort of nice how easy it is to slide, but how your hand locks onto it with minor pressure.

I took a 400 grit sanding sponges to it (lightly) and it was perfect. I’m talking a VERY minor difference here - as in one shade more satin/matte - still very smooth to the touch.

Simple weathering/use/abuse has also made my Superior CF nicer to the hand over time. When dry it looks a little faded and scuffed up now (4 years), but when wet still looks like new.

Right now my WRC paddle is actually slicker. In a few months as it weathers this may change. After re-oiling it will again be slicker than the CF for a while (longer each time - and needs re-oiling much less often over time). On balance, they’re about the same.

If you use gloves - impressions could be very different depending on palm/finger material.

I hate to plug this everywhere but…
It’s free!

If you do have any interest in carving your own paddle this video may help - it also shows how simple the process is: