With between 50 and 70 miles on a new greenland paddle, here is my experience:
An initially purchased gp had a 20 inch loom, which I found impossibly narrow. After measuring my grip width on my euro paddles, I exchanged it for one with a 24 inch loom. This made a huge positive difference. I am 5’11", 175 lbs.
My long time paddles are low angle, bent shaft, unfeathered, AT Xception and Werner Kalliste. In timed 3 mile runs my speed with all three paddles was about the same; my typical 4.1 to 4.3 kts, due to varying wind, chop and current.
The gp is less forgiving to poor technique than either euro. I only got 50% of my sweep rolls with the gp, vs near 100% with either euro. There is just less paddle to lean on to compensate for my relatively poor technique. The gp forward stroke requires more precise placement at the catch, but this is not hard to achieve. Neither is it hard to get the canted stroke; just adjust a bit till the gp is silent. Bracing also requires better technique than with the euros, which just grab water in either a high or low brace, no sculling required. It is much easier with the gp to set up for a roll, or to extend the paddle.
I find the bent shaft of the euros much more comfortable and natural over a several hour paddle than the straight shaft of the gp.
I don’t think it makes sense to compare a gp to a big blade, feathered, euro. The forward stroke of my low angle unfeathered euros is almost identical to the gp, so it is very easy to make the transition.
With between 50 and 70 miles on a new greenland paddle, here is my experience:
learning a GP
At 70 miles you are still a GP “virgin” Be prepared to give it much more time. It took me weeks just to learn a canted blade stroke. It took me months to learn an efficient wing stroke.
Your experience is a bit different than most students that I have taught. Most find that the GP is much more forgiving on technique for rolling and less forgiving of poor technique on the forward stroke.
You may want to have an instructor look at your roll. In a sweep stroke you want to “fly” the paddle through the water. A nice slow sweep, with the blade at or just under the water, will generate very strong lift, with very little tendency to dive. Work on side sculling and once you have mastered the technique and control to do that, you will have a very solid roll.
You compare your GP with a low angle Euro, but the GP is not limited to “low angle” technique, it works fine with an “high angle” stroke.
Regarding grip and comfort, you should hold your GP loosely with only your thumb and forefinger around the paddle shaft, your other fingers are draped over the roots of the blades. If the paddle fits you properly this should be extremely comfortable. Like a shoe, fit is everything and a GP must fit your body and the kayak that you are paddling.
A good resource is Qajaq USA (Greenland Kayaking Association) at http://www.qajaqusa.org. You will find an active forum there, and also technique information on the website. While the fundamentals are the same, there are some subtle technique differences with the GP. Peruse the Greenland forum and the Paddling.net forum and you will find a number of useful posts about this.
“You may want to have an instructor look at your roll. In a sweep stroke…”
I took a private rolling lesson because my extended (pawletta) roll with my euros is not quite as reliable as my sweep. This improved the extended roll with both the euro and gp. But I was still not nearly as reliable with the gp. I did not miss any rolls with the euro, extended or not. Though some rolls were not pretty. It is clearly easier for me with the euro.
“You compare your GP with a low angle Euro, but the GP is not limited to “low angle” technique, it works fine with an “high angle” stroke.”
I also found it works fine with a high angle stroke, but I prefer a low angle stroke for distance cruising. In this stroke the gp and low angle euros are nearly identical.
"Regarding grip and comfort, you should hold your GP loosely with only your thumb and forefinger around the paddle shaft, your other fingers are draped over the roots of the blades. If the paddle fits you properly this should be extremely comfortable. Like a shoe, fit is everything and a GP must fit your body and the kayak that you are paddling. "
I did do this draping and my paddle is unshouldered. But I just find the comfort of a modern bent shaft to be superior. Extending the bent shaft paddle is not as natural as the gp, but I rarely have to extend.
Another alternative - Aleut paddle
I don’t have your experience with the GP or that much with the EP. I deliberately started on an Aleut paddle (yes, I have used EPs otherwise).
The Aleut I’m using has a 24" loom with total length of 96", hand made by me. It’s unfeathered, of course, just like your GP. I’m comparable in size and weight to you, but I may have different arm lengths, conditioning, and boat beam to contend with, so you can’t compare directly.
The Aleut paddle does not cavitate! No flutter, like the GP can do if you don’t cant it properly. Aleut paddle requires no canting, though I find I do cant a bit somehow anyway. So it should be easier to find your forward stroke than the GP.
No cant, or other voodoo or mojo required.
Yeah, bracing with a GP is different. When you brace with a Euro you pretty much push down with your outboard hand. With the GP you push down and forward. Wish someone had told me about that early on. I had to figure it out for myself. But when you ‘get it’ the amount of lift you get is amazing. Most of my rolls finish with that ‘down and forward’ scull.
Bracing with a Euro paddle
There are many kinds of braces with a Euro paddle. Probably the least effective is the C-2-C based high brace, which is what seems to be universally taught. But you can sweep (scull) forward or backward to brace or do a lay back brace a la Eric Jackson. All of these are effective with a GP as well. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the teaching of bracing has been so focused on the C-2-C high brace.
you’re adjusting from a bent shaft paddle to a GP, which also adds some adjustments for you. Bent shafts are usually (But not always) used to cover up flaws in technique, or individual anatomical differences, say like a bum shoulder or such. They also in my limited experience trying several, make you change your rolling technique a little.
Relax and give it time - like at least half a season of use, and maybe a lesson on using your GP. It will tell you how to use it once you get the feel for it. GP’s are good like that.
“you’re adjusting from a bent shaft paddle to a GP, which also adds some adjustments for you. Bent shafts are usually (But not always) used to cover up flaws in technique, or individual anatomical differences, say like a bum shoulder or such. They also in my limited experience trying several, make you change your rolling technique a little.”
When I first used the bent shaft AT about 15 years ago it immediately felt entirely natural to me. It took no adjustment at all and my rolls and braces immediately improved. After that first bent shaft experience, every time I try a straight shaft, gp or my wing, it feels slightly un-natural. The idea that bent covers up flaws seems to me incorrect. However, I don’t want to advocate bent; it is entirely a personal preference.
My short experience with the gp compared the low angle euros, bent or not, is still that the gp is less forgiving and requires better technique, for rolls, braces and forward stroking. My experience only and not a general rule.
There is so much technique
in using a Greenland paddle that it really can’t be appreciated without the proper training and time to learn it. As you noted that a euro blade grabs the water and a Greenland is always sculled in some way. The Greenland paddle takes dedication to get the most out of it.
ex Kalliste, GP convert
I am an ex Kalliste bent shaft paddler that a few years ago swapped to Aleut paddles and later to GPs.
Maybe my technique was lousy but I had to use bent shaft Euro paddles (also had a Cyprus and Ikelos).
These days my favorite paddle is a good GP.
There is nothing that I can’t do with a GP, including surfing.
It took me at least 6 months to gain confidence to hit the breaking waves but there was no turning back.
As you mentioned I found that speed remained the same but the body felt so much better after 20 miles of GP than Ikelos.
Rolling definitely improved with GP and finally I learned how to roll a kayak, not just “high brace/sweeping” and relying on the support the Euro paddle offered.
Interestingly enough I see now the same mistakes I used to do myself when observing newly acquainted paddlers of GP: still using the same old CtoC technique to come back up.
Here is a little article that I have written: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2011/04/technique-greenland-vs-ctoc-rolling.html
Aleut vs. GP
Gnarlydog, have read your blog with interest for quite a while! Fun read.
Why did you abandon the Aleut paddle, if I may ask?
I have not abandoned the Aleut just yet but I have finally come around with better technique for the GP.
Initially I found the GP a bit “noisy” when used without finesse and slowly I learned how to cant the blade and create a more powerful and silent stroke.
Just recently I took my Aleut and the new Northern Light 3 piece paddle to a surfing session. Both paddles gave me plenty of bite and surfed well. The Aleut didn’t require concentration on the stroke, just furious cadence to catch the waves. The GP was equally powerful but felt like it exited the water with less “flutter” since it doesn’t have the strong ridge that the Aleut has to then catch water when lifting.
I find the GP a smoother paddle to scull with and glides better when sweeping in a layback roll.
Keep up the great blog.
The C-to-C roll you describe is not the best way to do that roll although you are right that it is generally taught as an explosive initial hip snap with lots of paddle support and coasting on momentum for the remainder of the roll. That is why so many people have trouble with it. If you focus on a smooth rotating of the boat with your lower body with passive arms (pressure from the paddle comes only from being pulled down by your rotating body and not your arms) and put a burst of energy near the end of the roll you will come up nicely every time. The C-to-C is not my roll of choice but if someone is going to use it they should do it correctly.
dump the c-to-c
The c-c is much harder than a sweep, especially an extended paddle sweep, whether a euro or gp. So if gnarlydog compares a gp extended paddle roll with a euro sweep, the gp will be much more effective. But, if like me you are a stiff old codger with a relatively high backrest, and a reliable euro sweep that you have been using for 25 years, the gp roll is initially more difficult, requiring better body finesse. With the euro it is easier to cheat on the roll.
As far as the forward stroke is concerned, I note that gnarlydog and others state that it requires time/dedication to master. To me this confirms that the gp is just less forgiving than a euro.
As far as shoulder injury is concerned, the comparison should be with a low angle, narrow blade, unfeathered euro. If one chooses paddle length and blade area to give similar resistivity to the gp, then there should be no difference in injury prevention.
I add that I really enjoy paddling with my new gp. It is elegant and works well. But it is clearly less forgiving and more difficult to master than an unfeathered low angle euro.
:“With the euro it is easier to cheat on the roll.”
My observations too
:“As far as the forward stroke is concerned, I note that gnarlydog and others state that it requires time/dedication to master. To me this confirms that the gp is just less forgiving than a euro.”
Not my case. Prior to GP I paddled for 5 years with Euro and my forward stroke was still very average.
It could be that I took care to learn the GP stroke but I feel that I have a better GP stroke than I ever had with Euro even if I have paddled less with GP.
Of course a lot of Euro paddling can be transferred to GP. Also: I can be lazy with my GP stroke and feel fine after a paddle but not so when using Euro.
:“As far as shoulder injury is concerned, the comparison should be with a low angle, narrow blade, unfeathered euro. If one chooses paddle length and blade area to give similar resistivity to the gp, then there should be no difference in injury prevention.”
Possibly right, but can’t confirm that. There is still the issue with anything that can be called Euro paddle if unfeathered in windy conditions catches the air that way GP doesn’t.
:“But it is clearly less forgiving and more difficult to master than an unfeathered low angle euro.”
Your mileage/experience might vary/change the longer you will paddle with the GP.
Maybe I’m a Freak
I’m not saying this to be boastful but it took me about 45 minutes of steady paddling to make the GP forward stroke feel as natural as the Euro. I’m not getting all this ‘it takes time’ stuff. What I wish I had known about early on is sculling. After I had already ‘gotten it’ I read a post by JayBabina that essentially said “push that blade forward and back and repeat a thousand times.” Spending time learning to get that tremendous lift is well worth it.
not a freak, just good
Kudzu, you probably are no freak, maybe just good.
However defining what a good stroke is is rather subjective.
I believe that there is always room for improvement and to learn how to paddle well with a GP took me some time. I define “well” when I can confidently reach and maintain the same speed as with Euro without little effort, when I can surf breaking waves in the ocean and when I have no issues with flutter.
I know I am a slow learner but I also believe that I don’t settle for “just good enough”.
My motto: never stop learning
I am with GnarlyDog, every paddle is a learning opportunity for me. How to keep the noise down when paddling hard, how to accelerate hard without flutter, how to roll confidently in aerated water, how to paddle high and low angled. The list is never ending. The learning continues for me. Also there are so many parameters to change on a GP that finding the best one for a given condition is a personal and never ending quest.