The debate as to which is “better”, I’m not qualified to answer. I also don’t believe there is an answer to this, as they both have pros and cons for different situations and styles. I have limited experience with a GP, and probably compared to many older members here, perhaps limited experience with a Euro blade as well. However, I’m a quick study and am never happy until I’ve mastered something… at which point I need something new to master because it’s lost some thrill, but that’s a different story.
I went out with my boat this afternoon with the intention of finding some wind and getting some exercise. When I arrived at the beach, it occurred to me that the conditions and location were excellent for a semi-scientific experiment. I wanted to know how my speed with a Euro paddle compared with a Greenland Paddle. Simple enough, but there are lots of variables involved in answering the question.
Here’s the setup:
- Pick a course between two easily recognizable points on shore, approximately 1km (0.62 miles) apart
- With each paddle in turn, run the course both up wind and down wind
- Repeat three times for each paddle
- Boat is my Impex Assateague with about 280 lbs (myself plus camping gear, but no food)
- Wind - Started around 20kt, backing to about 10kt by the last run Averaging three results from both up wind and down wind paddling within a relatively short span of time should nullify any effect.
- Fatigue - One would expect the last runs to be slower than the first due to tiring out. Alternating each run with a different paddle should result in a slow decrease in speeds but the effect will be spread evenly among the two paddles.
- Input Energy - Difficult to quantify or control. Suffice to say I was paddling like I meant to get somewhere, but that I had a long way to go. It wasn’t an all out sprint, but sweat was definitely involved and heart rate raised. The final run down wind with GP was likely faster due to thunderstorm coming in quicker than I’d have liked.
Enough rambling. I made a separate track log for each of the twelve runs. They are close enough to convince me they can be compared equally. The black arrow shows wind direction. North is up.
To calculate the results, I took the middle section of each track log between 75m and 825m, as this seemed to include the most consistent speed. It excludes the effects of a slow start up or winding down before the finish, and only gives the section where I’m “in the zone”. Results are tabulated below in km/h and knots, along with the average of all three runs where the paddle and direction were the same.
There isn’t much difference in speed. I did, however, notice a lot of difference in effort. I found my energy flagging going up wind with the Euro paddle by about half way. Whereas with the GP I could run the entire course and didn’t feel used up by the end. I found running down wind easier with the Euro paddle because the cadence required to keep up was slower. With the GP I had difficulty “windmilling” the paddle quick enough to add my full power to that of the wind. Overall the cadence with GP was much quicker - probably 1.5 to 2 times the strokes if I had to guess.
Before doing this little experiment, I suspected that I was noticeably slower with the GP. This confirms for me that’s not necessarily the case. If I’m slightly slower, I’m ok with that because of the significantly reduced effort to gain the same (or similar) result.
I encourage your thoughtful challenges to the validity of the test and results, but discourage any discussion as to which is “better”.