Greenland Paddle Speed

You got it right
GP’s do tell you how they want to be used. And you’ll find that different GP’s want to be used slightly differently as well (But that’s another topic).

All paddles give you clues as to what’s best. The difference is that some shout, and some whisper.

"slightly different … muscles"
I vary my GP stroke to accomplish this with one paddle. I did so with EP too, but for me the GP allows a wider variety that are all quite effective. Going high or low angle, varying amounts of flare or crunch, moving stroke more forward or aft, making it shorter/longer, changing cadence at same speed, etc.

In other words - even though I do tend to settle into a grove effort wise over distance, I have no specific “GP stroke” that wears particular muscles out. If something needs a break I just change it up - while taking full advantage of the stretch and rest each side gets a on every alternate side stroke if you paddle loose.

Dihedral benefits bad technique
Dihedral prevents blade flutter when one pulls a blade aft through the water. If you like the benefits of dihedral then you are likely an arm paddler with little torso rotation. Arm pulling technique is the method of choice for the vast majority of paddlers. This may explain why Werner is one of the best selling paddles out there.

However, if one does intend on using torso rotation where the paddle stroke starts close to the boat and naturally takes a path outward as the torso rotates, then dihedral is the worse possible paddle shape for generating lift. It would be like turning a wing upside down on an airplane, only worse.

Dihedral is not a feature of GP or wing paddles. It is a feature of some Euro paddles including Werners. As mentioned by someone else, Lightning brand paddles are flat. Simon River Sports Paddles are spooned which is probably the best shape for a Euro paddle to generate lift with a rotation stroke.

I have never tried a Greenland paddle. However it seems that the best users of GP are able to paddle quite quickly and efficiently. This level of performance makes sense because the GP technique employs a greater amount of torso rotation.

Having thought I had good technique with Euro Paddles, I can honestly say I was fooling myself. It was not until I committed to the wing paddle that I really learned what torso rotation was. There is a huge, huge increase in power and endurance when it comes almost exclusively from the torso. Good GP paddlers are tapping into this. Wing paddles take this technique to an even higher level.

I will continue to argue that the biggest gain in performance one can make is to learn proper torso rotation. I don’t care if you are skinny, fat, using a GP, wing, or euro. If you get the forward stroke down right it will elevate your power and endurance more than a year’s worth of training if that training is with mostly your arm muscles.

When I hear someone say they can only use a wing for 5 minutes or even only a half hour, I know that they have not mastered the proper forward stroke driven with torso muscles. Even if the wing paddle is not your bag I would suggest forcing yourself to use one for a few days. Once you figure out how to use the wing so you can paddle it easily for an hour or two, you will know what the forward stroke feels like. You will also have an an incredible new level of stability. Then take that technique and use it with whatever paddle you want.

Sorry, but…
There is no nice way of saying this. Sorry, but your explanation of the wing paddle’s purpose and technique is simply wrong.

It seems your opinions about wing paddles are based upon your own paddling technique, which is clearly not optimized for the wing paddle. Anyone who can only paddle a wing for only 5 minutes clearly does not have the right technique. Its not a strength or endurance issue. Its technique. If you had the right technique you could paddle for an hour or longer with a wing paddle even on your first time out this season.

To appreciate a wing, you do not have to be a fit athlete or someone who has maximised their potential with some other type of paddle. However, you do have to be someone who has mastered a good forward stroke technique that is powered almost completely by torso rotation. Most paddlers say they do this already, but actually very few do.

Wings are not designed to catch as much water as possible. Wings are designed to generate forward lift when one plants the paddle near the kayak and allows the blade to rotate away from the kayak on its normal path while one rotates their torso. The wing paddle takes a lateral motion through the water and turns it into foward propulsion. Its actually a very similar to a prop on an airplane or a prop on a boat.

There is no pulling back with the arms. Arms never get tired with a wing. Actually arms should never get tired with any type of paddle if one is paddling correctly. I find that my aerobic capacity fails first with a wing. A wing paddle makes paddling an aerobic activity.

Someone here at once said that a wing paddle when used properly exits the water in front of where it was planted. I have tried observe this while paddling and am not sure if its true or not, but it seems close to being true. This should give you a good idea that the paddle is lifting itself forward through the water, not being dragged backwards like other paddles. When done right you quickly find the limitation of your kayak, from drag. Its not the paddle or your fitness that becomes the limiting factor, its your kayak’s drag.

Its a magic feeling when a simple torso rotation back and forth generates so much forward speed so easily. The technique is actually so simple and obvious once one learns it, that you almost don’t think its right. How could such an easy motion with little physical effort create that much forward speed? I still ask myself that. Then you also realize that you are also much more stable. You no longer need to be braced into your kayak with foam and thigh braces. In fact you will soon prefer to be loose in the kayak as your stability is coming through your paddle.

Suddenly you find yourself able paddle at the speed of the ocean where other huge increases in speed are possible by catching waves that would have rolled by before. A whole new world of sea kayaking opens up for you that you had no idea existed before. It is incredibly fun and I wish more sea kayakers would get there. Its not that hard to do.

If you are one who has an appreciation of the actual act of paddling a sea kayaking then you will fall in love with a wing paddle and its technique. For many of you, you are only 4 - 8 hours of wing paddle practice away from opening up this new world of paddling. It is that close. Get a wing. Get a rudder. Give it a few paddles and you will revolutionize your speed and endurance. It really does not matter how fit you are. You just have to like paddling for paddling’s sake.

I am a newbie to be sure, but I work with my hands and I have been doing so since my dad taught me to use tools when I was about 8-9 years old. I am 65 now. So I own 3 Euro-type paddles and I have now made 4 GL styles for myself and 4 others for friends. Because I am a newbie and largely ignorant, what I write next is what I have learned, but it may be a small fraction of what can be learned. So take it for what it’s worth:
On this forum and on a few others I have seen, the Greenland VS Euro discussion quite a few times. But what I have seen (probably BECAUSE I am a newbie) is the missing of the point about comparisons. It’s always “Euro VS Greenland” and I note there is never a category included of White-Water and Canoe. Why? In those 4 categories the WW and Canoe are KNOWN to be different tools for different jobs. Yet the GL vs Euro argument seems to miss that point to some extent and sometimes entirely. It’s not Ford vs Chevy. It’s pick-up vs sedan or sports car vs off-road rock climber.

I own and I use both my GL and my Euro paddles. As a newbie I am open to every input I can get, but dedicated to none yet. So I believe I may have a more objective and less prejudiced viewpoint even if my knowledge is very basic. I could be wrong, and I admit it here and now, but what I believe I know so far is that the GL is easier for all aspects of open water kayaking in my touring kayak except the use in shallow water and except for all-out speed.

For my best times across the water in distances of 5 to 24 miles,the Euro has always given me faster trips. Not as much faster as many seem to think, but so far I have never made a 5 mile or longer leg of any trip as fast with my GL paddles as I have with my Euro paddles.

BUT for rolling, sculling, bracing turning and varying between high med and low angles, the GL is easier to use. So I say (as of now…in 10 years I may say differently) the GL paddles are easier to use for EVERY kind of paddling in touring and sea kayaks, but just not as fast as euros. I think WW paddles and Euro paddles developed for specific traits to the point the uses other then a fast forward stroke were set at “2nd place”. Is that wrong? Maybe not.

In touring, most people will see a forward stroke as 98% of the use of their paddle, so a tool to does 98% in excellence and 2% good but not best IS A BETTER TOOL! By far, most paddlers today dedicate the bulk of their time to the forward strokes and are not as interested in sharp maneuvering and rolling as much as just getting somewhere quickly and with less effort. So good euro paddles are the best tool for most paddlers.

But for those that love the rolling and maneuvering for the sake of maneuvering and rolling, I think the GL paddle is a better tool. I use both and I find the GL paddle to be easier for ALL paddling, just not as fast. It’s not "SLOW either. Just not AS fast. My best times so far place my GL at about 93% as fast as my Euro (map, compass and watch, so it’s an estimate, but pretty close) I love the turns and the sculling, and the ease of the GL for bracing in high chop and waves. For easy rolling it’s the best tool I have found .

So… that’s the report form the Newbie. Value it for the exact amount it cost you.

You’re missing the piece where the GP is way less hard on the paddler’s arms and shoulders. You might not care about that, but many do.

I also own and use both types of paddles, but most of the time I pick the GP, since it just feels better to my body.

Well Doggy_Paddler, I don’t think I missed that. I use my GL more then I do my Euro. But with either one you can slack off a bit to keep the shoulders from fatigue. I like the GL better because for me going fast is not the only thing I care about. I love kayaking and the things that delight me most are the way I can roll and maneuver. But I am just reporting what I have seen personally. For speed, the Euro is better. For the other 5-7 things the GL is better. That included ease of use.

OK, then, we’re in agreement.

I am the original poster on this one…14 years later. So in the last 14 years since I asked this question I will tell you what I have learned.

Agree to some extent with the “right tool for the job” statement. However, I do find that switching back and forth between GP and Euro is not seamless. For me, it takes a bit of time to readjust because they are very different in many ways. The counter to the “right tool for the job” approach is the thought that by using one tool you master that tool and it becomes second nature. I can see the merit of both arguments. It’s the Army’s “train as you fight” approach that leads you to choosing between one or the other type of paddle.

That being said, over the last 14 years I have dedicated myself to 99% Euro blade. However, recently I have started using a GP again. My joints are having issues and the GP is easier on the joints, and to a large extent I am getting bored of paddling in less than extreme conditions and the GP is a nice change of pace.

Ironically though I find the Euro blade easier for rolling and bracing b/c that’s what I am used to.

For forward paddling, I find the Euro blade forward stroke to be the hardest stroke to master. I have mastered every other BCU stroke, but still have yet to completely nail the forward stroke. Much better, but not perfect.

The GP seems to be easier to achieve a good forward stroke without years of practice. It is also easier to turn the boat when using an extended stroke than a Euro paddle unless you have truly mastered the various turning strokes of the Euro blade. Until recently I have actually felt like I was “cheating” by using a GP when it comes to turning the boat and felt that a “true paddler” had to learn and master the “more advanced” strokes. Now…well I think that mastering strokes is important, but results are what matter in the end.

For speed…I think that the two paddles produce similar results. For clarification though when I say that I have recently started using the GP again recently I mean like for the last 3 times I have paddled so this is not a large sample size. I am just starting to re-think things.

From a logical and rationale standpoint, the fact of the matter is that you can’t beat physics. Moving the boat at a certain speed over a distance requires work. Without looking up the definition online to refresh my basic physics knowledge, I think that the term “work” is what applies. I believe it’s force x distance, right? At the end of the day there is no “free chicken” True that some paddles are going to be more efficient…such as a wing paddle. However, the difference in efficiency is marginal and most likely only realized by the best of paddlers.

I feel I am a pretty accomplished paddler, but the difference in speed between a Euro vs. a GP I am going to imagine is a marginal percentage and that the end result is not noticeable or statistically significant for most of us to realize over typical paddling distances.

If racing, that may be another story, but for general paddling a 2-5% increase in efficiency is probably not going to be noticeable. If paddling for a 30 day expedition then it may be…but for a day trip probably not.

Use what you like, what you enjoy, what does not cause you discomfort, and what maximizes your performance. Frankly I think for the average paddler, most people will be able to achieve greater results in less time with a GP…rolling, turning, forward paddling, etc.

For me personally I am still deciding on which paddle I like…maybe both. For rough water paddling and surfing, etc. Euro blade for sure. And that is the type of paddling I lean towards. For flat water…I think it depends.



Racers use a wing because races are won by inches.

After reading a whole I don’t see any hard numbers mentioned for speeds, distance and hull you’re using.

Like cruising with a GP at 5.5 mph what hull, how long?

Never used one but did paddle with people using them. I was never impressed with the performance.

What speeds do you see and what hulls are you using?

Wing all the way for me….gp is a fun efficient tool but sustainable pace isn’t really what I think of when using one. Not sure I’ve seen anyone race one outside of the recreational class

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Hopefully the speedy GPer’s come back with numbers.

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