GP questions

HELP!! I’m in need of a new paddle, and have been seriously considering going the Greenland route. But I really am confused after spending several (many!) hours surfing the web for info. Some unanswered questions. How do they compare to Euros in bracing, speed attained for effort expended, rolling, etc. Is there a benefit to a solid wood over a laminated construction other than aesthetics. What should I look for in construction? Any reason to spend the extra money for a Beale custom paddle as opposed to an off the shelf Mitchell paddle for $90.00 less for the exact same size and dimensions as the Beale sizing sheet came up with? What would I be most likely to have trouble with as far as making the change from Euro to GP. What would I be most pleasantly surprised about a GP over a Euro.

I know this is a lot of questions, but any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Any insights from some paddlers with a lot of experience with GP’s would be great. BTW, I’m 6’2" 210# wearing a Chatham 16. Beam 22", what loom length should I be considering. I currntly use a fairly vertical stroke with a whitewater paddle (80") in the Chatham. Thank you so much for your help.

go for it
you will learn some subtleties that you probably dont use with your euro (canted blade, extended strokes, maybe easier rolling) i switch back and forth between my euro and gp, tho i broke my favorite gp (i slammed it into a dock while paddling under it and misjudged the clearance) and am now using my gp ‘axe’ -40 oz spruce weapon- you know you can make your own gp without too much work and expense…

GREAT choice!
I have gone over to the ‘other side’…only use GP’s now and love em. They are MUCH kinder to joints all around. However, it isn’t just the use of the GP, but the style of GP technique.

You might want to check out:

btw: check out the videos on this site of some of the masters using GP’s.

You will find loads of posts at in the archives re: using a GP…also might be interesting to raise the same question there, though there are many excellent paddlers who use GP’s on this site as well.

Have you considered building your own GP? You might want to consider purchasing Brian Nystrom’s new book on building a GP. It can be purchased through:

I would definitely recommend spending some time with a talented GP paddler/teacher…you will be amazed at what you can do with a GP…AND what it will do for you.



I started using a greenland paddle
a couple years ago because it was easier on my bad shoulder and it’s been a great learning experience. There are many options in the styles of greenland paddles and the technique that each can use. I prefer a paddle with a shoulder on it so that my fingers can feel and work the paddle as needed. A light western red cedar paddle is nice for day paddling and the boyancy is great for rolling. I use a heavier spruce paddle for more demanding paddling.

The greenland paddle allows you use many techniques to get the most out of the paddle and getting lessons from a competent instructor will help you learn them and not get a bad taste from trying to use a tool without having an idea how to get the most out of it. The greenland paddle can give you as strong of a paddle stroke as you want with the proper technique.

The greenland paddle is all I care to use for paddling now mainly because I feel much safer with my abilities and options this paddle gives me in rough conditions. It’s awsome to get flipped over and not have to set up for a roll.

They are pretty easy to make and the plans by Chuck Holst work great.

A greenland paddle isn’t for everyone but if you want to learn more paddling techniques that can be used with other paddles then give it a try.

Go for it
I enjoy spreading the GP word here is upstate NY. If you’ve got a woodworking friend, they can help you along to making your own - it’s easy, but a band saw to make the first few cuts really helps. If you buy one, the Mitchell may work fine, but it has no shoulders - I like medium shoulders for comfort and orientation of the paddle in my hands. It will also be poly finished - too shiny/slippery for my taste. I like an oil finish.

I hear good things about Don Beale’s paddles. The solid paddle will not be as strong as the laminated one, I suspect, but will be plenty strong. I’ve busted only one in 5 years of use - that was a super-light 23oz. beauty, but too light for strength.

With a GP, rolling will be much easier, paddling distances more comfortable, and bracing much stronger, if you extend the paddle. There will never be a question about how the blades are oriented. BTW, the first move to learn (beyond the strokes) is the side scull. That develops naturally into a roll.

Enjoy - Alan

Speaking of GPs,
are the Beale paddles strong enough to do chin ups with?

Don’t forget to look at Betsie Bay G.P.

Don’t know about chin-ups
but I’ve been using my Beale for 18 months now. It handles surf, rock gardens, etc with ease.

Prior to the Beale, I had a Superior wood GP and a Superior Carbon GP.

I definitely recomend the Beale. BTW, mine weighs in at 29 oz.

Get The Mitchell…
if it less expensive and is in the size you’re interested in. Figure out, if this is a piece of equipment you like or not. Some folks go the whole G-style route and others think little of it.

Personally, I use GP only in my long boats and Euros in my WW and surf boats. I do much more the latter than the former these days. I could make and use a GP for ww and surf but frankly I think it isn’t the optimal tool for those venues. Folks talk about the advantage of learning to roll with a GP. I agree. However, once you get rolling (and bracing) mechanics down, you should be able to roll with any paddle (and any boat that fits you reasonably well).

Some of the paddles you can buy are wonderfully made and worth the price of the effort put into them. For me, short of the carbon fiber Superior model, I would much prefer to make my own with a $25 piece of cedar. Though not as polished as a Beale, I like and enjoy the process. Moreover, I can make and refine different GPs to my preference with experience/use.


remember teh good ole days of
ScottB and Bnystrom when this question came up…

GP are fun, but they are not for everybody. I personally never got to the point where I enjoyed it enough to stick with it full time. they are however a cinch to make so you could always do that to see if it floats your boat, otherwise borrow one.

GP musings
"How do they compare to Euros in bracing, speed attained for effort expended, rolling, etc."

Bracing is a bit different with a GP, as they’re best when extended toward the bracing side and/or used in a sculling manner. Speed is identical to a Euro paddle in my experience. Rolling with a GP is so easy that it feels like cheating.

“Is there a benefit to a solid wood over a laminated construction other than aesthetics.”

The cost of solid paddles is typically lower and if you’re making your own, it’s simpler and faster to carve one from a cedar 2x4 than to laminate a blank.

“What should I look for in construction?”

If it’s a solid paddle, look for vertical grain in the wood, as it will be more durable and more stable (less likely to warp).

“Any reason to spend the extra money for a Beale custom paddle as opposed to an off the shelf Mitchell paddle for $90.00 less for the exact same size and dimensions as the Beale sizing sheet came up with?”

In addition to fitting you more precisely, a custom paddle will be lighter, especially if it’s cedar. The Mitchell is a heavy paddle with a long loom and no shoulders, which is not the best design to start out with, IMO. A paddles with shoulders that you can wrap your fingers around and a loom length that fits your body will help you develop the proper technique easier.

Don’s paddles are very good and Superior also makes nice paddles. Cricket paddles are pretty good, but rather heavy. IMO, the Betsie Bay is a horrible design that is largely a compromise between a Euro paddle and a GP. It’s designed specifically for the technique that Doug espouses, which is not the way paddles are used in Greenland.

“What would I be most likely to have trouble with as far as making the change from Euro to GP.”

There are a few major differences:

1 - The GP stroke starts and ends farther aft. You plant it around mid-shin (vs. at the ankles for a Euro) and the stoke continues well past the hip.

2 - Power is applied differently. With a Euro, full power is applied immediately after the catch and tapers off through the stroke. With a GP, power is applied more gradually, as the longer blade takes more time to submerge. Maximum power occurs at mid-stroke and tapers off from there.

3 - GPS are often used extended, as they’re design for to be easily slid through the hands. Sweep strokes, braces and many rolls use an extended paddle.

“What would I be most pleasantly surprised about a GP over a Euro.”

As others have said, they’re easier on the joints. Being completely symmetric, there’s not top, bottom, left or right and no control hand per se. All of your movements and skills are identical mirror images on the left and right sides. GPs are much less angle critical when used in sculling and sweeping motions, which is one of the reasons it’s easier to roll with one. Once you get used to a GP, it has a very natural feel in the water. I often find myself sculling around with the paddle just because it feels so cool to do it.

come on Brian, ease up…
“IMO, the Betsie Bay is a horrible design that is largely a compromise between a Euro paddle and a GP. It’s designed specifically for the technique that Doug espouses, which is not the way paddles are used in Greenland.”

You know full well that the Greenland paddle shape and paddling style varied greatly across the many regions of Greenland and I’m sure at least one group used the non canted hand on loom method that Doug promotes. It just happens that John Heath, Maligiaq, Greg Stamer, etc. used and taught the finger on shoulder canted paddle method which has become so popular.

Although I personally use a Beale paddle with the “Maligiaq technique”, I do think the the Doug Van Doren style can be used very effectively. While the Maligiaq stroke has more of an ab crunching component, the Van Doren stroke has the more classical torso rotation/euro/wing stroke. The reality of it is that I doubt that the crunch/cant combo really delivers that much more efficiency or speed over the torso rotation/non-canted combination although canting feels “right” to me now that I’m used to that particular style.

The Betsie Bay paddles are very well made and although Beale has the advantage since Don custom carves his paddles unlike the fixed dimensions of the Betsie Bay, I wouldn’t label them bad paddles.

What would I be most pleasantly surprised about a GP over a Euro.??

If you like sneaking up on wildlife, they are very quiet once you get the stroke down.

I also like just grabbing it without worrying

about blade orientation.

Thoughts on Mitchell Horizon GP

– Last Updated: Jun-29-06 10:47 AM EST –

I'm in my third season with my MH-GP. I bought it on a whim, but I have grown to love the GP style and the benefits so many others have already mentioned.

Some thoughts:

1. The "Mark I" Mitchells were rather clumsy attempts at GP design. Heavy, squared edges and loom, feels lousy in the hand.

2. The paddle I have is what I refer to as a "Mark II". Much improved, more refined in shape, very comfortable loom. As was already pointed out is has soft shoulders. I like their feel, but I have not used a GP with hard shoulders so I have no point of reference. Apparently this is a strictly personal thing.

3. If you read any literature about GP design, both historical and modern such as the Chuck Holst plans you will see that the "foil" shape of the blade is to be carried almost to the tip. This aids in sculling sweeps and such. The MH-GP I have has it's blades carved flat for the last four or five inches to the tip. Does this cause problems? I believe it causes some cavitation, but I have only limited experience with one other GP ( a Beale) so my judgement is quwstionable.

In general, I would give the MH_GP a solid "B" in grading. I would give Beale paddles an "A" on the basis of the design. When I free up $300 I plan on ordering a Beale.


$300 for a Beale?
I guess if you wanted a laminated Beale but a solid WRC Beale can be had for only $170. I have both a laminated Beale and a solid WRC one and I prefer the solid WRC paddle even though it does get damaged much more easily.

Why do you prefer the solid paddle?

I have a carbon Superior and tried a few solid paddles but never had the chance to use a laminated one, what’s the main difference?

lot’s of benefits to a laminated paddle.
A laminated paddle is beautiful, more ding resistant, stiffer, and if done right it weighs about the same as a non laminated paddle.

My particular laminated Beale that I picked up secondhand is beautiful but it weighs slightly more than my solid paddle and although it is close, it isn’t sized exactly to my body.

Mark Rogers has a new hollow core laminated paddle which is probably lighter than the carbon one and absolutely beautiful. Those probably run $400 or so.

The personsalities can cloud the issue, so let’s try to keep this simple.

A canted stroke happens pretty naturally if your hands fall onto the roots of the blades. If your hands fall onto the loom (as they do on a BBK), then the paddle tends to naturally orient itself vertically. You can use canted and non-canted techniques on either of these designs, it’s more a matter of how naturally they work (e.g. without manual manipulation or conscious thought).

A canted stroke is very popular in Greenland (it was also used in other parts of the arctic). Although it is very popular it is not the only technique used in Greenland. It is not unique to Maligiaq or his Grandfather (Maligiaq’s Grandfather was a seal hunter who taught Maligiaq how to kayak). In some parts of Greenland an “uncanted” stroke is considered a basic technique and a “canted” stroke is considered an optional, more advanced technique. Some areas of Greenland only use a “noncanted” stroke. In some areas of Greenland completely different techniques are used than what we are discussing in this thread (I want to learn more about those techniques…).

Using a canted blade does not tie you to any stroke model. I use a lot of torso rotation on my particular stroke, with a canted blade. You can easily mix “crunch”, “canted”, “uncanted” and “wing” technique elements.

The last time that I taught with Doug Van Doren, he was teaching a canted stroke on the catch. FWIW, the differences between what he and I teach have to do more with placement of the catch and exit, height of the paddle, and general mechanics.

Doug has a compact stroke that gets a lot of power from the abdominal obliques/legs and is good for covering miles. The stroke that I use hits me heavily in the lats/legs. But that said, we are all different and even if two paddles perform the “same” technique they may “feel it” in vastly different ways.

Greg Stamer

laminated blades, my take
I have both laminated and non-laminated GPs and have made both.

I’d say the main advantage of a laminated blade is that you can build one using smaller and perhaps cheaper pieces of wood. If you are a manufacturer this also means that your quality will be easier to keep consistent (where the quality of solid-wood varies considerably).

Lamination, by itself does not make a paddle stiffer. That is a product of the wood grain direction and wood quality. A solid, vertical grain paddle, with tight grain is extremely stiff. The problem is that it not always easy finding top-quality wood.

Some people really enjoy the process of laminating and some do not (just as some people like to use power tools and some do not). I don’t particularly enjoy gluing blocks of wood together and modern glues can be hell on the blades of your fine edge tools (I like to shape using edge tools and sand as little as possible).

This is all personal preference, of course.

Dings are a factor of paddle finish and wood type, not lamination. As to aesthetics, well, that’s where beauty is in the eye of the holder.

One unusual feature of a solid wood Western Red Cedar paddle with a minimal finish is that while the paddle will cut and ding easily, smooth dings will often heal themself as the compressed wood swells and returns to its former shape over time. To offer one anecdote, I had flown to Lake Superior with my favorite GP, only to find that the drain-tube case that was protecting it had been crushed by the airlines and one blade had a golfball-sized ding that was fairly deep. Although I would not have believed it at the time, after two weeks of use you could no longer see the ding as the wood returned to its former shape.

Greg Stamer

Yep, making your own is the way to go
I have a collection of GP’s, all made for different purposes.

I have my regular cruising paddle, which is a laminate of a 3/4" by 3/4" sitka spruce spine with red and white cedar around it. Beautiful looking paddle.

I have my big seas/rock crasher paddle, which is unshouldered, a little heavy, and made from white pine and aspen, and has epoxy/silica reinforced tips. Nearly indestructible so I’ve found.

And then there is an assortment of storm paddles and experimental paddles, ones made expressly to maximize speed, etc. When it costs $25 - $50 to make them, you can afford to be creative.

I think it’s almost as much fun to make them as it is to use them.