GP questions

Had my first pool session today since my shoulder fracture on Thanksgiving. My othopedist said it’s healing wonderfully and released me from future appointments. I can do whatever I want to do, but if it hurts, I’m to back off. Celebrated in my kayak. Took my fiberglass paddle, but should have brought my Cyprus because it’s much lighter. Next time.

One of the other paddlers knew the background and offered me his GP paddle, claiming it would put less stress on my shoulder. I asked him about technique; he just said to use my wrist to angle the blade for the forward stroke. The GP didn’t feel any lighter than my fiberglass Euro, but there seemed to be less soreness of my deltoids and the other muscles in that area when going forward. I can do the forward, sweep, back, draw, and sculling draw strokes with both Euro and GP.

The bow rudder was another story. Does the GP have enough blade width to power through one? While the pool is small, was crowded, and I couldn’t get good hull speed, I managed to do lousy bow rudders with the Euro but failed each time with the GP. Same thing with a side slip. Lousy side slips with the Euro, nothing with the GP. I’m sure my inexperience had a lot to do with it, but there sure doesn’t seem to be much blade to angle.

Does the blade width vary with GPs or is it pretty much a standard size? The one I used was made by that paddler, who also suggested I try other GPs.

What effect does a GP have on speed? I found a noticeable difference between the two when moving foward.

It was interesting enough where I’m more curious about a GP, so thanks for any insight.

Also really nice to again have wet paddling gear drying on the rack.

shoulder safety
In general the shoulder is more protected if the stroke keeps the elbows close to the body. A GP in a low stroke does this better than a Euro paddle, even a low angle Euro. A bow rudder or other high elbow maneuvers are inherently shoulder risky.

Rudder, with a Greenland Paddle can be done by holding the blade in the armpit of the side the rudder is being done on. The elbow is clamped the your side and the rudder angle is controlled by the hand…this is a one handed maneuver. {and very non shoulder invasive} If you notice any difference in forward movement…then you don’t have either the technique of a good canted stroke with torso rotation or the paddle you have is not sized very close, for you.

all things are basically interchangeable with proper technique {the techniques however are slightly different}

Best Wishes


bite not weight
The easier on the shoulder part of a GP is not due to its weight, but my understanding is due to how it bites the water. A short, fat blade can bite the water real quick, which puts strain on shoulders. A GP gets it bite slowly as the blade is more and more immersed into the water, which is easier on the shoulder.

A longer, narrower euro blade would be easier on the shoulders than a short, fat blade.

I hadn’t thought about it, but the lower angle that was mentioned also seems to make sense as being easier on shoulders.

Technique different but works as well
It is a bit different though, GP is going to be less effective or fight back if you try and use it exactly like a Euro. Just to start you go in with a diving angle for a forward stroke, something that feels all wrong to some one coming from a Euro background. And differences for the other paddle stuff too.

It is a tremendous sculling tool though once you get the hang of it.

It is not, for most people I know, nearly as fast as a wing paddle. But a wing paddle would be a remarkably bad idea coming back from shoulder surgery.

I have known a couple people who went to a GP after major shoulder surgery and found it worked very well both for protecting their shoulder and for paddling effectively. I know many who would disagree about the low angle part as a good descriptor, but however you want to state it a GP distributes the strain of paddling in a different way than a Euro blade. One that is usually kinder on the joints.

I suggest you find someone who is quite good at Greenland technique if you can to show you the best way to use it. It can be a pretty neat tool, especially for rolling.

Blade size and paddle length matter,

I don’t use any Euro paddle with a larger or more aggressive blade than the Epic Relaxed Tour. The Swift Wind Swift and Werner Little Dipper are also good options for smaller bladed paddles that are easier on the joints.

My experience is that paddles that are too long also strain the joints more.

I’m always nursing my shoulder.

I just tried a GP toward the end of last summer and it was easy on my joints, but I hadn’t grown to prefer it over my Epic Relaxed Tour full carbon, yet. I bought my GP used and it may be a little short.

As Celia says
if you learn good technique - and there is some learning curve especially for experienced euro folks who will have to unlearn some muscle memory - I think you will find the GP less stressful on shoulder joints.

GP size
GPs should be sized to fit the paddler. Here is some good info on fit:

Thanks for the insight
I’ve seen photos of paddlers with a Euro in hand and a GP as their spare. Switch hitters?

Checked the exhibitor list for the upcoming Quiet Water event and saw that Qajaq USA is listed. Probably the best place to get questions answered.

great news re: the shoulder

– Last Updated: Feb-22-16 10:11 AM EST –

I still use a euro exclusively but have to admit, it was using a GP in a pool session that got me to relax and slow down enough to get my offside roll.

I've taught myself to keep my elbows at my side whenever possible because of shoulder injuries. I can do a decent draw with my low arm close but not exactly tight against my torso; just having it closer allows a much stronger draw.

Hope your recovery is complete soon!

Thanks, slush
Fracture was a walk in the park compared to getting muscles, etc. un-atrophied.

Still doing two PT sessions a week, plus two hours of PT “homework” each day. Want to be ready when the first cracks in the ice appear. :slight_smile:

gp and wing and loom
"It is not, for most people I know, nearly as fast as a wing paddle. But a wing paddle would be a remarkably bad idea coming back from shoulder surgery."

Amen. I had to give up using my wing due to rotator cuff issues, which are not issues at all with my GP. But I had to give up speed going from wing to GP. But there is no detectable difference in speed between my low angle Euro and my GP.

But speed is difficult to assess. Over a short distance, say less than 5 miles, at high effort, I was faster with the wing by about 0.2 kts. Over about 10 miles at moderate effort, I could not detect any difference using GPS.

Bow rudder with GP, yes

– Last Updated: Feb-22-16 3:54 PM EST –

Rookie, I have used a GP exclusively for almost 10 years. Easy on the shoulders. Easy to do a bow rudder same way as with Euro blade. Sideslip I find harder to do with GP, but I don't practice enough. GP is nice for rolling. GP in wood is also nice as an outrigger when you're sitting in the boat relaxing. The guidelines for length didn't work well for me. I'm short but often use an 86-inch paddle. But my paddles are only 3 to 3.25 inches wide so that I can grip them well for rolling. My four GPs are all very light western red cedar and are slender.
Finally, I don't think you need a lot of instruction in using a GP. Two hours alone on calm water in your kayak, and the paddle itself will teach you how to use it. My 2 cents. No doubt others have different views.
PS Congrats on healing and getting back in a boat. Yay!

GP blade width
I forgot to answer your question about blade width. I think a lot of contemporary GPs are 3.5 inches wide because that’s the width of a 2 by 4. But you can make one narrower if you want or need to – if, say, you have very small hands. (I do.) I don’t see the point in a GP blade wider than 3.5 inches even for a big person. You pick up blade area in the length of a GP blade. The one thing I think you give up with a GP blade is really mad acceleration. But once you’re up to speed you can go a long time. A couple of years ago the record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island was set by a guy, Joe O’, using a Greenland stick, if I remember correctly. Some people use GPs in the Everglades Challenge. Oh well, gotta stop. You get the idea. :slight_smile:

Wet Hands
One of the first things I was taught about using a GP was to put the blade way down into the water. Don’t be afraid to put your hands in the water. That will give you more acceleration. If the water’s cold neoprene gloves or mitts will keep you comfortable.

Drip Rings
Generally, GP paddles don’t have drip rings - the rings would interfere with various slide strokes. However, I fashion a drip ring by tying a turk’s head knot somewhat high on the blade toward the loom. The two line ends are whipped together and serve as the drip line.

Following up on a couple parts:
Based on my experience:

Speed - Not noticeable except at max output. I’m not the most efficient, but I’m usually towards the front unless it’s a strong group with some very good paddlers

Weight - A GP may be heavier overall but due to the shape of the paddle the weight is inboard towards the loom than many Euro paddles.

Strokes - I suspect a matter of technique. Bow rudders & cross bow rudders work fine I suspect the the side slip may be more of an angle and body mechanics issue.

Width - nothing to do with a 2 X 4. Traditionally, GPs are sized to the user. I’ve seen some extended discussions as to how much that applies to non-Inuit body shapes and our larger kayaks whoever, the width is based on you hand - you want to be able to grip the end of the paddle comfortably in your hand for extended strokes. I tend to run a little smaller # 3 3/8"

Qajaq USA along with Southeastern Michigan kayak builders, and Aluu paddles will all be close by in the Arena. Lots of good folks to talk to there. I know that you are planning to go to the Port Austin Symposium in June. I checked the instructors list and there are plenty with GP skills - enjoy. If you are interested in a couple day immersion, sign up for Michigan Training Camp. It’s just around the corner from you and you are fed by Michael Gray.

No pool vaulting allowed!
But pool practice sounds great! Glad you are back. Take care of that shoulder. I have a GP that string made and gave me. I was able to do several butterfly rolls with it which I haven’t been able to do with a euro yet. I like the feel of paddling with it, but haven’t a lot of experience with it yet. I try and keep my elbows down to keep my shoulders safe when paddling.

Sizing seems to be
a bit more complicated than a Euro, Ginger.

I admit that I’ve never had reason to use a sideslip. I think the practice helps me learn better blade control and it’s fun when it works.

Uncertain about rolling. In the coming weeks I’ll have to test getting back in using a scramble. While my boat is only 43#, when I first lifted it there was a lot of strain on that shoulder so I backed off and used my cart.

Thanks for the encouragement and advice.

GP technique tips
I made one and have been using it for about a year. It has been delightful once I figured out the angling of the blade at entry.

I have been looking at the great trailer videos from this outfit. I might pop for the larger versions.