GP temptation

One of my buddies just got a Greenland paddle, and he seems to really like it. I currently have a Werner Cyprus, but have been thinking of getting a GP for a while now. I did try my friend’s, but only for a few minutes. It seemed to have potential.

I have a couple worries. First, the forward canted stroke just seems weird. Is it really hard to get used to? It looks like the wrists have to be bent, which seems like a no no. Second, since there are no drip guards, do you get water dripping all over your hands and body constantly? I normally don’t use a spray skirt.


The GP and Euro strokes are different. They are somewhat similar enough to mess up both if you do not accept that they are different. That being said, I almost always paddle with both and shift between the two blades based on conditions and my whim of paddling.

No drip guards on a GP. No big deal. Paddling is a water sport. Expect to get wet.

Dtroke easy to get used to, just have to get accustomed to letting it dive more.
Don’t understand why you think the wrists need to be bent. Are you letting it dive?
If you don’t paddle with a skirt it places you outside of the typical GP user. That is also usually associated with someone who can roll. Kind of on your own worrying about the drips.

I saw a few videos on the canted stroke, and it looks like they were bending their wrists downward in order to get the proper angle.

I don’t really get why so many people like spray skirts. I like to stop every once in a while and pull my knees up and just move my legs around. I don’t have any desire to roll, and I’m not going to dump over unless I get hit by a major wave or a boat gets extremely close. I mainly paddle on Lake Erie, and have played around constant 30 mph+ winds and 5+ foot waves. Not to say that it couldn’t happen, but it would take a lot for me to capsize in my Tsunami 140.

Water constantly running down the paddle could get annoying, IMO.

Make a choice. It either works for you or not. Around here at 98 degrees a little water in the cockpit is a good thing. But the river water is 85 degrees.

…and the skirt stops you from doing this? Not me.

In a GP you move your grip all over the paddle. Drip rings would only get in the way. The canted grip is best done with an oval shaft to a “diamond” grip at the end of the blade. Not just a flat blade. The GPs are as different as the paddlers.

I don’t mind getting wet, but I’d rather not have waterlogged hands for hours on end. My friend with the GP said dripping water wasn’t an issue IF he uses the right technique.

I just made another GP. It was to be for my grandson but he hit a growth spurt and outgrew it. However, I have a paddling partner who is a fast learner and with a loom length mod, it fit her.
Total length is a bit short, but she took to it immediately and loved it.
Her only comment was that she couldn’t accelerate like she can with my Onno Full Tour.
And she thinks it’s pretty.
She paddles a SOT and said she got little water in her lap.
The girl is a natural.

No, you don’t bend your wrists to perform a canted blade stroke. You keep your wrists neutral during the stroke.

When I use a GP the drips hit my foredeck. Depends on your technique and cadence. That said, it is a wet sport.

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Right off hand, I’d say that a GP may not be for you at this time. And that 's fine … it’s all fun. I really like mine. I like the feel and the action in the water. I don’t need instant acceleration and my hands when kayaking are often wet from fooling around with edging and bracing. That’s also partly why I’ll wear a skirt even when it’s hot.

I wish I could rent one. At first, I was thinking I’d just try a cheap wood one, but it seems “cheap” means at least 200 bucks. Then if I like it, I’d probably want a really nice one, like a Gearlab, so I’d end up spending more. It would make more sense just to get a Gearlab to begin with, but not sure I want to risk spending $400+ and not be that thrilled.

It also seems like there aren’t many videos on GPs on Youtube. I watched a few instructional ones, but most of the others are just people paddling and not really talking or explaining anything.

I’m also not sure I’d like the non-round shaft. It looks like people grip it with some fingers sort of around the blade. I guess I would get used to it, but maybe not. I’d really need to use one for a day of yakking and put some miles on it. Just reading about them is a lot different than actually using them.

I think it took me 4-6 trips to get a feel for the necessary body motion for a forward canted stroke. Your upper body will sort of have to rotate around a point in front of your chest. This way your body weight will counter the force trying to pull the blade into the water, so you keep a steady balance.

The rear canted stroke is much easier to learn. It is more or less the same motion as you would do with a wing paddle, including the higher paddle angle. But with this stroke you will have to wait ½-1 second longer after the catch before you apply force on the blade. If you apply force too soon, the blade will lose the grip in the water. For this reason, my top speed with rear canted stroke is somewhat lower than with forward canted stroke.

For the forward canted stroke, you can keep your wrists neutral. For the rear canted stroke you will probably have to bend the wrists a bit back.

The worse your technique is, the more wet you will be. With good technique you will not lift so much water out of the sea. And with good technique your hands and paddle will be so far in front of you that the drip will hit the deck in front of your cockpit opening, unless you are paddling into the wind.

Regarding spray skirt: You are obviously not edging your kayak enough in the turns. If you were, you would have water coming over the side.

For me… the GP is a much better tool in those high winds you go out in. The wind caught those big spoon shapes on my euro paddles and tried to snatch it out of my hands. Not so with the GP.

Per a bunch of replies above you aren’t capturing the stroke for a GP right. If l had to guess one reason it would be that you don’t rotate your torso. From your issues with the oval shaft to the cant, all of this comes far more easily with good rotation than without.

But given your reluctance to get wet and lack of time trying a skirt. - l also have no trouble moving my legs around under and my boats are a lot lower decked than yours - l don’t really understand why you are messing w a GP to start. It is predominantly used by people who can edge aggressively and/or roll. Which you said you don’t want to do.

Paddling Lake Erie without a skirt or associated skills is whole further discussion. Which l am not going to get into.

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So I’m pretty much a newbie and I can’t roll and I certainly don’t reliably edge that deeply to turn, but I like my GP a lot. I’m sure my technique needs a ton of work, but the paddle feels great and is fun. Yeah, I get wet.

But my more pressing question is this; isn’t it dangerous to paddle in a huge, cold lake like Erie without a sprayskirt? I’m not from MI and don’t know the lake, but I want to hear what the more experienced paddlers say, since, after my few safety lessons I’d personally be scared to be out there with an open cockpit (and without someone better than I to paddle with.)


On my “shouldered” GP (Which sounds like what you are talking about), I have 2 fingers on the shaft and 2 on the blade. Very comfortable once you get used to it, and you always know what your blade orientation is, and that you’re not holding the paddle longer on one side than the other in a normal forward stroke position. The shaft on that one is nowhere near round, but I find it comfortable. I also have a couple of “Unshouldered” GP’s, where the shaft becomes the blade without any noticeable transition, and I wrap electricians tape around the shaft to let me know where my hands are. A slightly oval shaped shaft lets me know my blade orientation.

All the non-GP’s I have do not have perfectly round shafts. I have a Lightning (No longer made, but great paddle) that is noticeably not perfectly round. That also gives you a point of reference for blade angle. I find it’s also more comfortable that way. If I used it more often than I do, it would also have tape on the shaft, because I change my grip position on it for certain moves just like I do with a GP, and have no idea how centered I am on the shaft when I go back to a regular forward stroke without looking.

It’s all about what you like, but if you don’t try other things, you might never find one you like better. It’s all fun.

Greg beat me to it as I was just about to post his link. He’s the founder of Qajaq USA, the American Chapter of the Greenland Kayaking Association; his article is excellent advice and one I studied when the GP carved for me arrived.

I used my GP the other day without a skirt because it’s so hot here. There were a few drips in my cockpit, but no more than what lands when I’m using my Werner Cyprus and paddling skirtless. My hands get wet with both paddles but never water-logged.

As to carbon, my western red cedar GP weighs about an ounce more than my Cyprus. I’ve used a carbon GP during a class, but like wood much better not only because of the communication factor, but it just feels nicer.

A Greenland paddle is a lot easier on the shoulders, so much nicer to use in a headwind, and great for long distances. If you could borrow one in a length appropriate for you and spend a few hours working on the forward stroke, it may give you a better idea if it’s a good fit.

Yeah. I bit my tongue (typing fingers), too.

I also have to question the “constant 30 mph+ winds and 5+ foot waves”. Newbies tend to groosly overestimate wind speed and wave height. I’ve been out in measure 30 mph winds and it’s difficult to make any headway. As for the “waves”, 5’ swell can be nothing more than a gentle rolling ride, but 5’ steep or breaking waves can kick your a$$ and quickly flood a boat if you’re not wearing a sprays skirt.

Speaking of which, paddling a big like like that without a spray skirt is dangerous, especially in anything approaching the conditions described.

I love GPs, but I think E.T should spend his time and money on basic technique and safety instruction, rather than an new paddle. Learn to paddle effectively, efficiently and safely. Learn self and assisted rescue techniques. Learn how to handle your boat. Learn how to dress properly for the conditions. Then start playing around with different types of gear.


I use both Euro paddles and GPs and have for many years. Early on I decided I wanted drip rings (home made) and have continued their use for no particular reason. To make the drip rings I used narrow diameter cord and tied Turk Knots around the blades, just outside my normal hand position. They function as hoped, for a “normal” hand position. It is still easy to slide my hand across the knot, so strokes that require that are not inhibited. Of course, then the knot will typically be immersed and not useful.

At this point, I’d be just as happy without the drip rings, but they look kind of neat. I only have an extended paddle roll, close to a layback roll. Since I only learned the roll a few years ago and will turn 80 this year, I’ll not get more adventuresome.


I’ve been paddling for many years now, and have spent lots of time on the lake. I know what kind of weather I can handle, and what I can. I don’t paddle long distances in crazy conditions, but I’ll play around in them. We launch in a river, and paddle about a mile to get to the lake, and I’ve been out there during small craft advisories, big waves and sustained high winds. I get wet, but as long as I watch what I’m doing, I don’t get flooded. In these situations, a spray skirt would help, but most of my paddling is done in easier conditions. IMO, I think spray skirts are overrated. Even in windy-ish conditions and 3-ft waves, I really don’t need one. I get a little wet, but no biggie. As for cold weather, I’m typically not out there when it’s freezing temps.