Yesterday while paddling in Central IL, I used Cooldoc’s Mitchell GP for awhile.
I know some of you have indicated that GPs can be used with a high angle stroke. I am a chronic high angler and this GP seemed to dictate a low angle sweeping-type stroke with only a few inches of the paddle in the water.
The question is: Are there brands or types of GPs that are more conducive to a high angle style?
Yesterday while paddling in Central IL, I used Cooldoc’s Mitchell GP for awhile.
Check out a Greenland site
Only a few inches of paddle in the water? That ain't right for a GP stroke. I doubt it's the paddle.
Check out the link below - I suspect that you aren't using the canted angle and are instead trying to angle the blade in the opposite direction, a normal thing to happen when first trying out a GP. It can cause the GP to not get deep enough in the water.
I don't know that the canted angle gets you to what you'd call a high angle stroke, but it should be higher than what you describe. Also guidance on the proper width of the loom and hand placement.
Shorter the better
for high angle. Storm paddles are great for high angle stokes. Very verticle stoke close to the hull.
I find that the distance
between my hands plays a role in what angle feels best while paddling. My paddles with a 20" loom feel fine for any angle stroke I need to use but my paddle with a 24" loom feels most comfortable with a higher angle stroke. When I’m trying to catch a wave to surf I move my hands farther apart out onto the root of blade and use a high angle, short fast stroke. Most greenland paddles should be able to work with whatever angle you need.
Try http://www.qajaqusa.org/ for all things Greenlandic. The section on technique will help you with high/low angle stroke mechanics. Euro and GP are different enough that going back and forth isn’t IMO a great idea if you’re just learning to paddle. I found that as I let the paddle teach me to use it efficiently, my stroke became lower and lower. Unless, you’re doing a lot of serious surfing or towing in tide races, the GP is a lot more user friendly for serious but still avocational paddlers.
Thanks all for the links
Celia- you are correct in that I certainly was not "canting" the blade.
jsmarch- I was using my Werner Ikelos for a few hours before I borrowed the GP. Your comment about going back and forth may be valid.
I scanned a few articles on the recommended website and will explore them more in detail this week.
One article written by Brian Day indicated the following:
"Greenland Style Paddling
Torso rotation is also a key component in the Greenland-style forward stroke. The paddle is held low, almost on the sprayskirt, with the arms bent at something close to a right angle. The hands hold the paddle at the root of the blades, with the thumb and forefinger on the loom and the remaining fingers on the blade. You will find that this grip automatically tilts the top edge of the paddle forward at an angle of 30 degrees or so. This is good, because you want to be slicing the paddle into the water at a slight angle as you begin your stroke.
Keep the paddle low. Reach forward slightly at the start of the stroke and slice the paddle into the water. Your arms will move the paddle up and down through the stroke, while your torso provides the power."
Keeping the paddle low was mentioned a few times.
Another note- although this was my first experience with a GP and I should not make relatively uninformed comments, I had to increase the cadence to approach the speed achieved with the Ikelos. Again, this may change as I gain experience with a GP.
I certainly enjoyed the fluidity of the GP.
More of the story needed…
Terminology – GPer’s always talk about “canting” the paddle. Why not be more descriptive and say – use a “diving angle”.
Whatever we call it, the point of a diving angle is to get the whole blade buried quickly and then sharply pull up to set it firmly in the water before pulling backwards. That leads to a powerful stroke, with the complete blade “set” throughout the power phase, and a continuation of pulling up against the diving angle to help supply power. But so far, we’ve only heard about the diving part.
Disclaimer – I’m a GP newbie, and this is my best understanding after a couple of lessons from an expert… combined with my modest personal experience and observation.
The “low stroke” is very popular with kayakers in the Great Lakes area. It certainly works, but using a low-stroke exclusively is like using only one gear on your bicycle. The article you referenced is fairly old and still recommends the “low and horizontal” stroke. Acceptance of using a more vertical stroke with a GP varies from region to region and instructor to instructor (as does the canted blade technique).
In Greenland you will see the kayakers going from a low, horizontal stroke to a high vertical stroke depending on how much speed (at the expense of effort) that you need. For regular touring, most Greenlanders hold the paddle at about a 45 degree angle to the horizon.
Be careful that you don’t confuse the height that you hold your hands, with the height of the paddle blades. Since your hands are spaced closer together when holding a GP (as compared to a spooned paddle), your hands stay low (below chin level) even when the paddle blades are almost vertical and passing close to the hull.
All this info is enligtening but please
let me try to rephrase the original question in another way.
My Werner Ikelos is marketed as a high-angle paddle due to the shape and size of the face. I believe it performs better in a high-angle venue.
Are there GPs that perform better than others while using a high-angle stroke or are most so similarly constructed that it is the responsibility of the paddler to learn to use it as such?
Please forgive these naive questions from one who has used a GP for only 1/2 hour. However, there will be a GP in my future.
Take a look at the Betsy Bay (BBK) GP’s. I think of BBK as a transition paddle as much akin to, say, an AT Xception as to a classic GP. On the other hand, there’s not much point in trying to force a GP to behave like an Ikelos. I’ve paddled both and the technique and feel are quite different. You can get very good at both, but you can use them the same way.
High Angle and GP
You can use a well-fitting and properly shaped GP in high-angle, low-angle and even with some elements of wing technique. Some of the Greenland racers make their racing paddles with a wider loom (22-24") and very sharp paddle edges for more bite. Otherwise, I’m not aware of any design elements that will make a GP function better in “high-angle”.
As I said in a previous post, think of your paddle angle as gears on a bike. Why stay in a single “gear”? There are times when a high stroke makes good sense, and there are times when a low stroke makes sense. Learn the full range of expression of your Greenland paddle. This will require you to experiment and learn what works for you.
Although there is plenty of overlap in technique, the devil is often in the details. A high angle stroke with a GP will be quite different from the high angle stroke you are doing with an Ikelos. If you pick up a GP and use your “Ikelos” technique without modification, you will not get stellar results. (The same is true of someone who is proficient with a GP who tries a feathered spoon).
Good ideas all.
For wha it's worth, I watched bruce during his virginal 30-40 minute paddle with the GP, and from where I was sitting, he looked to be very comfortable, rhythmic and fluid, and propelling forward nearly as fast as with his snow shovel bladed Ikelos.
To Greg Stamer's excellent tips, I would add another anecdote that he mentions in his classic segements on the Nigel DVDs: Greg mentions that each Inuit paddler has a sligtly different stroke, enough so that the wive's on shore can identify which boat in the didtance has their spouse by the unique stroke.
(I think I have that recalled correctly, Greg. I will await clarification when you and Qajaq USA put out the definitive DVD series on all things Greenland kayaking. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge).
Diving v. Canted
Hi David. I agree that when you are actually doing it, diving angle is a heck of a lot better descriptor. My problem is that I have a hard time explaining it without a paddle in my hand, so figure it is safer to let someone who knows what they are talking about do that part. The site mentioned uses canted, so I used that.
Thanks Greg- I think you answered
it precisely in your last post.
I have also planned on doing what kheyashunka suggested. I'll purchase a GP in the next few months and read and experiment.
I need to emulate someone else's stroke so my wife doesn't recognize me when I'm on the water- eh (Canadian word) Cooldoc?
Thanks for all the comments from everyone and the P.netter who e-mailed me very valuable info.
If there are some “G-stylers” in your area, by all means watch and learn from them. To view some very good kayakers performing a forward stroke, refer to the video clips on the Qajaq USA site at http://www.qajaqusa.org/Movies/movies.html .
“Greg mentions that each Inuit paddler has a sligtly different stroke, enough so that the wive’s on shore can identify which boat in the didtance has their spouse by the unique stroke”.
That’s true, although I think it is also true regardless of paddle type. We all have a unique walking gait, unique paddle stroke, etc. Discover the technique variations that works for you.
However, there are fundamentals that are common to kayakers with a clean, powerful stroke with a Greenland paddle. The statement that “anything goes” can be abused to rationalize very poor technique (e.g. bad posture, arm paddling, etc) which would not be helpful at all. The difficultly is in deciphering what is a fundamental technique versus pure personal variation (and dealing with the confusion that results when different people tell you different things).
There are some “G-stylers” in my
area that are kayak instructors that I sometimes paddle with when they do not have classes.
I will speak with them and/or watch them. They also represent Betsie Bay and sell their paddles.
Looking at the Qajaq site, the paddles that most interest me were Beale, Lumpy, Superior and Novorca. I’m sure many of the others are fine too.
Thanks again Greg.
I’m a bit biased…
but the Lumpy Paddles are extremely nice. Nothing lumpy but the name. : )
I use mine with every thing from fairly low, to high, nearly vertical strokes depending on what I’m doing at the moment.
They all work and that’s just one of the beauties of the skinny-stick. The more you mess about with them the more versatile you’ll find them to be, and the more they will grow on you.
high angle and cant angle
how does cant angle interface with stroke angle. above 45 degrees i find that my stroke moves forward and exits sooner with less cant all the way through whereas with low elbows/arms my stroke enters the water closer to my body and the cant angle is close to 60 degrees all the way through to a finish that is substantially more toward the stern. in turn, torso rotation becomes a bit more like an abdominal crunch.
same question arises with respect to sweep strokes as the more wing like stroke tends to involve a very forward plant followed by a flare outward kind of like s sweep. i can do a canted forward sweep at least on flat water, but find that i give up the cant to gain stability under real conditions. not sure if the sweep technique issue informs the forward stroke technique issue, but thought i’d raise it for discussion.
looking forward to seeing you at delmarva,
should read " the low stroke is popular with a certain individual or individuals in the Great Lakes region"
The one stroke fits all situations being atributed to the Great Lakes region or any region is a wrongly perpetuated myth.
Please review this thought pattern. We all know the person that teaches this stroke…but that is not the entire region or what is taught by all others in the Great Lakes Region.
Thanks for listening to my small rant about a single person speaking for an entire region.