GP observations and technique ?s

June gave me a Klatwa GP for my upcoming birthday. It is a 2 piece made by or for Feathercraft. I actually tried paddling feathered and it did not make sense. While paddling, I had my thumb and index finger against the shoulder. Is this true Greenland technique? This put my pinkies even with my outer shoulders. When paddling, I was concentrating on putting the blade in perpendicular to the water, and using a low angle and using torso rotation. My abs are sore. I did try the method taught by Van Doren where the hands are not on the shoulder held closer together and the top edge of the paddle is canted toward the bow. I found I could get more power, but that really started my abs burning. Is the paddle too long for me? My fingertips extend just past the tip of the paddle when it is end to end. What I found is I can propel the Nordkapp faster, turn it quicker with a GP. I would appreciate tips for good videos on Greenland techniques. I went about 10 miles today. I did not try to roll today ( Asthma acting up) but have been practicing unfeathered rolls with my Windswift. Anyway it was nice to be out on a warm fall day and enjoy the foliage along the Lake.

Our friend, Mr. Beale does a good job
explaining sizing:

As for correct hold and technique, this seemed spot on:

I can’t offer much in the way of personal experience as this is my first year with a GP, but I found these helpful.


My 2¢

– Last Updated: Oct-15-04 1:18 AM EST –

Yep - that articles a good one (particularly the epilogue), though I don't find that photo of Kaleraq Beck's grip all that instructive (I notice Greg S uses it a lot to show the grip).

I'm not a big fan of Van Doren forward stroke (but he's awesome otherwise by all accounts). It developed in that vaccuum mentioned in the article. With hands fully on loom - cant is more something you have to do - and is not natural or intuitive.

I prefer thumb & forefinger around loom at shoulders, with rest of hand out on the blade roots. It's a more open (neutral wrist/hand position) grip - and one that should automatically cant the blade for you (I really need to do a sketch to show the neutral wrist/cant combo from the side). I always paddle canted and don't "do" anything special or have to think about it.

So only thing I'd suggest is if you grip as I do - DO NOT try to force the blades perpendicular. That would either make you cock your wrists back - or have the shoulder jammed straight up into your hand. Neither is too good. Straight wrists - hand comfortably on the root - palm on wider face - fingers wrapped over narrower edge acting as hooks during pull (narrow edge of shoulder is similar diameter to euro shaft...) - nothing fancy . Cant the paddle IN your hand (keeping hands flat and wrists straight) - not WITH your hand (bending wrists).

Confusing online - two seconds to show in person.

Using Greenland grip perpendicular, and Van Doren grip canted, are both sort of doing things the hard way. It's easier to do Greenland grip canted than not, and easier to do Van Doren grip uncanted.

I think maybe this all makes more sense if your loom is a rectangle with rounded over edges (instead of round or even oval), because then it's more obvious the the blade roots are shaped like the inside of you hand and fit better - and the loom is not the same as the shaft on a euro and should not be used like one.

There is no "right way". Have fun.

Go to:

and watch the forward stroke videos there. If you have time to kill - dig around in the archives. Many stroke & grip discussions there (or just start another).

Just Some Thoughts
Sounds like the paddle is within the “range” for you. Some may go shorter for a faster cadence. The cant is with the top edge towards the bow and the lower edge towards you.

I hold my thumb and index right against the shoulder base and the rest of the hand cups lightly around the blade. With the wrist straight, the blade is naturally canted.

I rarely use a lower angle, except to stay in the speed range of my wife or kids. Try a higher angle. Also, actually let your hand touch the water. When I speed up, I find that I do a lot of torso rotation. My blade doesn’t bury that deep but sweeps out a bit to the side and exits the water. Kinda like what I imagine (or see) folks doing with wings. This seems to have evolved a bit on its own.

I find that my abs, obliques and quads really get a work out with good paddle.

And, yes, of course, plumb the Qajaq/USA site. Lots of words, videos and photos for you to digest and play with when on the water.


Excellent advice
Above. I’ve only been using a GP for 6 weeks, but find the grip (at the blade roots) mentioned by Sing and Greyak just kind of evolved naturally, aided by some sage advice from irishmanngg. Gripping the roots gives excellent control, a relaxed wrist angle, and more power.

After taking the GP class with you
at the Symposium, I find that I am still more comfortable using a canted blade that is more of a traditional stroke than the one we were taught.

Good luck with the rolling. I still haven’t been able to roll with the GP. The sweep happens so much faster than with my modern paddle, that I always screw something up because I feel like I’m rushing things.

sweep with the GP than with a Euro. Lot of buoyancy with the GP than a Euro. Try to slow it down even more by using an extended paddle to get the form. If you doing a layback sweep roll, keep the inboard hand planted on your upper chest area. When your body reaches the 90 degree point, arch your back (like you trying to get your head deeper into the water) and keep sweeping. The boat will just end up under you. That arched back in the 90 degree position is part of sculling and the balance brace.


Greenland paddle roll
When you roll with an extended greenland paddle it should feel slow and effortless. In a class that I took from Greg Stamer he had us working on side sculling and the balance brace with a partner floating next to us who would hold on to our kayak as we sculled over onto our side. At any time the partner could grab the kayak and help me back up. I found this a very good way to start learning how to side scull and balance brace. Once you have a good side scull you can let your kayak tip slowly over and scull right back up. By practiceing sculling you gain a good feel for how the paddle is working. When you are ready to go for the roll, sweep the paddle in an arch and raise your inboard knee. I find that the timing of raising the inboard knee is what makes rolls easier for me. Many of the greenland rolls are done slowly and once you get the proper timing are effortless.

Disclaimer: Following is from a rank beginner GP extended sweep roller - but as such might make sense or help someone close to hitting first of same.

Placing my focus more on knee thing (hip snap doesn’t describe it right) and less on the paddle is what got me up first few times.

I decided to focused on that (after feeling how much more wedged in I was in a different boat - the knee thing sort of clicked) and up I came.

I cannot do a full layback due to rear deck height - so I need a little more knee action that the more gentle arching Sing described so well. As long as I committed to switching power from one knee to the other (letting outboard go limp - and keeping head down) I was up like magic.

Power was all core/knees - arms and paddle felt like they were just along for the ride. It didn’t feel like they were doing much of anything (excepts providing some body position help and aiding with timing). On prior failed attempts - it felt like arms and paddle were doing a lot (light bulb goes on here).

I also consciously slowed it down a bit (after blowing first try). Hit two good ones, and then transfered it to my less locked in boat. Was just as easily (but rushed first try and blew it - so again had to pause and slow it down to get it to work).

Try going really slow. I think sculling/sweeping in general with GP works best going slow - going much slower that you might think possible will still give amazing support.

Set up. Go over and once you’re in position on the opposite, side with paddle out/on surface, pause for a second or two before continuing. As on tape says: “Shed the resistance.” Well - rushing things is a form resistance too - resistance to being capsized! Relax. Then re-tighten setup position knee to keep you at surface and pre-load the spring. Begin to unwind into the sweep - and you should feel when to switch power to the other knee (unwind the spring) which rolls the boat over and you up with it. Let the other leg go limp after switching power. If for any reason you put force back on the outboard knee - you’re sunk.

It helped me to NOT think of rolling as getting up out of the water. If the priority is getting up out of the water it can put you in a more frenzied and failure prone state of mind. It also tends to give the paddle too much importance. To make it work - focus on the process - not the result.

I find it worked once I began to think of it as smoothly (and calmly) twisting the boat over and pulling it under me with the driving knee (with just the force needed to do that - and paddle as guide and minor support aid - going slow enough to adjust along the way). Then the getting up part is the automatic result.

With GP - I don’t have to think about the paddle all that much - but I’ve been paddling almost exclusively GP for more than a year it just from that I sort of now where it is and what it will do - even without much roll practice and no real sculling/brace work yet. The design and buoyancy of the paddle really simplify things - and yet give you a lot more options and ability to adjust mid-maneuver.

Thanks to both Sing and DonG
I’m going to keep working on that sweep roll. I know that when I do one correctly with a Euro paddle that the roll is absolutely effortless. One minute you’re underwater and the next you’re upright.

I’ve been told by others, that my normal sweep roll with a Euro paddle is extremely quick, (I keep hearing Derek H telling me that kayaking is a dry sport). I guess I like being ON the water and not IN the water.

I’ll keep trying to slow my sweep down and arch my back more. I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting the technique right enough times to get some muscle memory going.