Greenland Paddle - first day

Well, my Superior Kayaks carbon Greenland paddle arrived on the big brown truck yesterday. So, I got it in the water this morning for the first time - did right under 7 miles or so.

First of all, thanks to all you good folks who recommended this paddle. It is beautifully made, is quite light, and has a generally excellent feel to it.

Now, the first couple of strokes where something of a shock to me. I expected it to be different, but it was flat out strange at first. Once I got moving a bit, I seemed to make some pretty good progress.

Couple of primary observations / questions for those of you who use these sorts of paddles:

I seemed to do better when I kept the angle of the paddle somewhere around 45 degress off horizontal - does this sound about right? My upper hand would be getting close to chin level, my lower hand just a couple of inches above the water. When I tried a lower stroke, I got lots more paddle noise.

Several of you suggested that I might hold the paddle angled just slightly forward. I tried to do this. I tried over and over. Two problems though - it feels most unnatural to me, and, it made me keep hitting the deck of the boat - right on the edge. Was I angling it too much? Is this a symptom of something else I might be doing wrong?

I obviously need lots of practice and work with this style paddle, but even so, I’m 100% excited about this. I enjoyed it much more than the wing I’ve been using lately and much more than conventional Euro style paddles. I tried a couple of “extended” moves with a blade in one hand and the shaft way out from the boat. Sweeps like that are incredible! Talk about power to turn - wow, I never imagined what that would feel like. I did some relatively cautious braces that way too - amazing!

Thanks for the advice and input.

Congrats! It is a great

45 degrees is fine… but so is 20 or 70. The key to reducing paddle noise and aeration is to carefully observe how the paddle is entering the water–you want it to slice in cleanly on edge (angling, or “canting,” the blade usually helps with this), and you don’t want to start pulling until the blade has gripped the water a bit. Ideally, only the smallest air bubble enters with the paddle.

Having your pulling hand end up near the water towards the end of the stroke is just right. Their better use of the lats is one reason Greenland paddles do well against Euro paddles-- the long blade can be sunk, so you can lower your hands further without burying the blade.

Take a look at all the video clips at QajaqUSA–they will show you all the strokes, and all the cool moves only Greenland paddles can do.

The strangeness of the paddle will go away soon.

Canting the blade shouldn’t feel unnatural. If you rest your hands in your lap, they have a slight downward angle form the wrist. If you hold the paddle at the same downward angle, it will automatically be canted just fine. Are you holding the paddle at the “neck,” the joint between the shaft and the blade? Only thumb and forefinger actually circle the shaft–the other fingers hold the beginning of the blade itself.

I can’t think why you might be hitting the gunwales–you have a nice narrow boat which is a good match for a Greenland paddle. Maybe you just need a couple of outings to get used to where to place the paddle at the catch of the stroke.

Wait till you discover the pleasures of sculling at the surface, balance bracing, etc. You’re going to be very happy, I predict.



Canting the blade
Sanjay - thanks, you already answered one question for sure. I was actually rotating the paddle forward a bit in my hands, rather than focusing on the position of my wrist. That would explain the trouble and why it felt so odd.

Also, hitting the boat occured primarily when I was trying to increase the cant - the paddle would tend to “slide” towards the boat just after the catch. I suspect that problem will diminish as I look at my wrist angle rather than how the paddle is rotated in my grip. Oh, and yes, I do think I’m holding it in the correct spot - I had my hands positioned just as you describe.

Hitting the deck…
With a Euro stroke you’re pulling the paddle straight back, with the canted GP stroke you’ll need to pull up on the paddle a little during your stroke (light stroke, light grip). If the paddle sort of pops out of the water on exit your doing it right. You’ll be surprised at the amount of acceleration you’ll get out of a good exit as well as the rest of the stroke.

Your right there
Sounds like you’re getting it right off! Your post reminded me what my first time with it was like. VERY different than the big balded Werner I’d been using before I got mine!

On the details - Exactly what Sanjay said on all points!!! Wish someone had put it all so clear and simple when I got mine! He can always say something in 1/3 the words it would take me to do it 1/3 as well!

Now just let the water be your guide. GP only gets better and better every time you use it. That particular paddle will speed your learning/adjustment curve as you can so clearly hear when any air is drawn in with the stroke.

Probably just a descriptive difference

– Last Updated: Apr-23-04 12:37 PM EST –

but I don't notice any pulling up being required during the stroke. I know what you mean - and how you can do this if you bring the blade aft more to get an extra kick as you liftit out - but that's something easier found for yourself than explained to a first time GPer I think.

Even without that, I still feel the blade pop on release, but think this is due to it's bouyancy and its cleanly slicing up and out as the cant naturally angles it up to surface when you stop applying power or (faster if you) begin to move that hand forward. Another energy saving feature over the long haul.

I am not expert

– Last Updated: Apr-23-04 2:44 PM EST –

having only spent about 8 hours with a greenland paddle perhaps our perspectives may be close.

On hitting the shearline. Because you are working the canted paddle it will tend to go down. I almast capsized myself several times at the beginning. So one pulls up and the resistance can be countered and used to get forward force.

Rolling with a greenland paddle is a blast.

Perhaps we'll meet in chattanooga.

I was thinking about your
problem of hitting the gunwales while paddling today. Two possible reasons would be–1. what you mentioned, that the canted blade actually tends to try to capsize you towards your stroke slightly. You will very quickly get used to this feeling and compensate with balance. The fact that the blade is canted, I believe, actually increases your feel for what rough water around you is doing–it’s like an antenna. 2. You may be using a longer stroke than you need. You can actually exit as the elbow of your pulling hand reaches your hip. That way you’re not in such a twisted position that your catch with the other hand hits the gunwale. Doing this might feel very early and “forward quadrant,” but it’s a powerful stroke that I use when racing. (Greenlanders, however, tend to lengthen their stroke for speed.)


Great article about using a canted GP
I just got my Don Beale GP in the mail, and all the talk of canting made me want to find out more… I came across this article over at Sea Kayaker…

One of the pages has a diagram of what it should look like…

Happy Paddling!


It explains the basics, but…
…don’t take it too literally. First off, I don’t know of anyone who truly knows what angle their blade is as when they plant it. Secondly, the angle of the blade changes throughout the stroke. Bottom line? Don’t try to rigidly adhere to what’s in the article.

hear hear

That’s why I don’t usually give advice.

– Last Updated: Apr-25-04 5:58 PM EST –

It's easier to show people how to cruise along with a very short stoke using only the exiting of the paddle for foward speed.

I don't think it has much to do with bouyancy myself. But I can't give a good explanation either way.

I don't bring the paddle very far aft either.

which also makes me second bnystrom’s comments about that article - even though it IS a very good article.

I will often not extend the stroke aft much either. With a more vertical and deeper stroke - pulling up at the end can give and extra kick either way. Usually though I just extend and focus on the catch if I want more speed.

GP is subtle - but that should not be misconstrued as meaning it’s difficult or hard to learn. Simple things are always hard to decribe - easier to show.

Biggest problem with GP is it is too easy to over read into or completely misread someones comments. Better to let the water teach you.

Cant angle is the classic thing that gets overblown. With most GPs and a Greenland style grip - the cant is there automatically - just look at your push hand. Feel it, don’t calculate it.

Totally agree
One reason I like GP’s is that there are no hard and fast rules to a good, efficient or comfortable stroke. My “style” changes throughout a days paddle and each style feels right.

One thing I may do differently than others is if I want a really efficient stroke I’ll concentrate on the exit. Why? Because this is what sets up the other end of the paddle for a smooth entry.

I’ve heard some say “the paddle will teach you”. I think they’re right.

Took it out again today
I think Sanjay has nailed it. I think it is a combination of both the issues he mentions. I think I’ve got the cant problem solved - that was easy enough. I’ll be working on the length of the stroke & see how much that helps. Thanks for all the input folks.

I don’t know how many
traditional paddlers you have in your area. But one thing I have done is just watch some of the faster, more effecient paddlers use their stroke, and mimic.

The video clips on the qajaqusa site are also quite helpful.

Alot of this verbal explanation for something very complicated and detailed is not very helpful i’ve found. The maligiaq video could be helpful as well as doug van doren’s video on the betsie bay site.