Greenland paddle

Well been watching lots of kayaking paddle stuff on youtube. Just wondering of the advantages of these Greenland paddles. Is it simply the wind resistance or lack of on the blade? They seem really short to me as well.


New GPer Here

– Last Updated: Oct-12-09 8:55 AM EST –

I find two major differences.

- the wind resistance is indeed lower.
- and it just seems far easier on the body. I can paddle a lot longer and further without tiring than I can with my euro-style. The blade doesn't seem to 'catch' as much on the start of each stroke - feels like less shock-loading. The blade also seems to 'pop' out of the water at the end of each stroke, probably due to the buoyancy of the wood.

They're also fairly easy, and very inexpensive, to make. The ones I've been making and using are about 84", which is a tad shorter than my old euro-type.

Two advantages that I have found
are that they give you unquestionable indexing which comes in handy when a quick brace is needed or when rolling in rough conditions, also the long narrow blade gives a more gradual bite of the blade during the catch phase of the stroke which makes paddling easier on my hands, elbows and shoulders.

As far as the length, my greenland paddles are 88"-90" long. They can be made to any size or dimension you want. When I go out for a paddle I usually carry two different sizes so I can switch paddles according to the conditions I’m in.

Rolling and Sculling
I find the GP much easier to manuever in the water. Much easier to roll and scull with the GP. I also agree with the indexing advantage. I don’t see me ever going back to euro.

Same to me
I switched to GP half a year ago. It’s a rather long one and I don’t see any disadvantages compared to my euro. My first roll worked - no more problems witch indexing. Sculling, bracing, surfing - everything works well, I’m faster on longer distances as well. It’s so easy to handle both on and outside the water, no wrong side anymore.

However, most people who tried mine (for a too short time) were happy to get their euros back. You’ll love it or not…


– Last Updated: Oct-11-09 6:33 AM EST –

Rolling, bracing, or paddling with an extended paddle feels so much better with a GP than a euro.

I am finding
that I am getting increasingly comfortable with the GP, my aleutian, and my euro blades. I just make it a point to bring a variety and depending on conditions, mood, stars alignment etc, I take different paddles out. what is surprising is that, as my own rotation and skills increase, it is getting more and more effortless to use any of them.



– Last Updated: Oct-11-09 7:15 AM EST –

Have a look here for how Greenland paddles are sized and made:

and here on how they are used:

The best is still to try one or a few for yourself. If you cannot and still want to try, I would say it is better (and cheaper) to buy one made to your dimensions from a reputable maker than to buy a "standard size" one (but "standard" makes absolutely no sense in this case) from a commercial outfit.

A well-known source I like for superbly shaped blades is:
There are others.

Well it sure seems like all advantages forsure. I’m not sure what indexing is. I’d love to try one for rolling though. Thanks for all the replies. Maybe I’l have to try to make one. I’ve made a canoe paddle before so that should help. I really like the looks of the GP and I could take my Euro as a spare.


Greenland paddling
There is also a learning curve involved. If you are a seasoned euro paddler, it may take a couple days as it did for me, especially if you have been paddling feathered. The blade is held canted a bit forward at the top, which took awhile to get accustomed to. An issue for me was that I swing a bat lefty however I write with my right hand. Rolling was an issue for me when feathered because I was set up for weak side roll when my blade was feathered… The greenland blade was properly sized for me by an expert who watched me paddle while giving instruction. And the width of your boat may factor in the sizing length. I had been paddling a very good quality carbon euro blade for about 12 years and now that I have switched believe I should have done so from the get-go. But in very shallow water (6-12"), I’de suggest the euro because more blade gets bite. The cadence with Greenland paddles will be faster, but easier, when paddling with groups making good time.

indexing is knowing what the orientation
of the blades are so that your hands will automatically know where the face of the blade is when bracing or rolling. Because your hands are on part of the shoulder of the blade, or close to it when using a greenland paddle, you always have a feel for what the blade orientation is. Using a paddle with a round shaft and having no feel of the blade, it can be easier to loose the blade orientation and miss a brace or roll.

and have you noticed…
that when your hands get slick from sunscreen it’s an issue with the euro and not with the GP? It is with me, anyway.

Try a good one
It’s difficult to make a really good GP. I made one during a course which is OK - I have another made by an experienced builder which is MUCH better, even though the dimensional differences seem minor. I’m not saying don’t make your own, but if you make one first time out there’s a good chance it may be mediocre and not give a true idea of what a GP can do. Borrowing a well-made GP is one way to go, buying one from a respected builder is another. I’m an experienced woodworker, so that wasn’t the issue, it’s more an issue of knowing which of the features of the GP are important to you ahead of time.

greenland paddle
Another big advantage IMHO that has not been mentioned is the the way the GP works as a rudder. Whether being used at the bow the hip or the stern it enters the water much more cleanly and creates much less drag. There is a great Warren Williamson video on youtube that demos both at Skookumchuck rapids.


Time to adjust
If you have paddled for some time with a euroblade I think you will find that it take time to get a comfortable stroke and the same speed as your euro.

A class with a good GP instructor will help a lot.

Well, sort of

– Last Updated: Oct-12-09 12:27 PM EST –

While I agree with you that it's best to try a few GPs before buying or making one, I don't agree that it's difficult to make a good one. As you said, it's good to know what you want, but even that's not especially critical if you're making paddles, as the cost of the wood and the time involved is minimal. I think the best bet for most fledgling paddle builders is to make one paddle, work with it for a while and modify it if necessary, then make another one incorporating changes you like or think you will like. One may end up repeating that process a few times, but since one's preferences will probably evolve as one progresses in using GP technique, it's highly unlikely that one's first or second paddle will be the ideal paddle long-term anyway. Cedar paddles don't last forever, either, so replacing them due to wear and tear is to be expected.

Other than that, paddle making is mostly about attention to detail and applying some basic woodworking skills. Working methodically helps to maintain symmetry, even for a novice woodworker, which is why I chose the method I did for my book. One paddle should be enough practice to get good at shaping, so one's second paddle will usually come out better than the first.

I was lucky in that I found a blade shape that I really liked on my second try, so my personal paddles since then have just varied in length, shoulder shape and a few minor dimensions. I've also experimented with shoulderless blades and a few other things that I thought might be interesting, but that was mainly for fun and the educational value of trying something different. One can also learn a lot by building paddles for other people with different sizing requirements and preferences.

Keep in mind that any good paddle you make that doesn't quite suit your preferences will likely be ideal for someone else, so you can probably sell it for more than it cost you to build it, or donate it to a good cause. It may make the perfect "test paddle" for a GP newby who's trying to figure out what they like.

Shallow water and GPs
You’re right that GPs have limitations in shallow water, but it also depends on how much room you have around the boat. In “bony” water, where rocks or other objects near the boat force you to use a vertical stroke close to the boat, it’s really tough to get much purchase with a GP. I’ve gotten into holes while playing in rock gardens where this became a real problem and was very frustrating, to say the least.

OTOH, if you have plenty of room around the boat, it’s simple to extend the paddle on each stroke and hold it as low to the water as possible. That will allow you to get all or most of the blade in the water and it provides you with a lot of leverage to move the boat.

Greenland Paddle
If you try a GL paddle, commit yourself to using it for a few hours before making a judgement.

The first hour it will feel really weird, by the end of the third hour, you will begin to appreciate it.

The GL paddle has about the same blade area as a Euro paddle, it’s just arranged differently.

All surfaces are a “power face”, so there is no front or back to the blade.

A couple of years ago, we had 15 kayaks on an outing. Of the 15, there were 2 GL paddles. If we did the same outing today, there would be 14.

Different Stokes

– Last Updated: Oct-12-09 1:54 PM EST –

I couldn't roll to save my life with a Euro but I am sure that was operator error. I had instruction and even after many attempts it just didn't happen for me. When I switched to the GP that all changed almost instantly, it was like cheating. Within a few short months I went from a point A to point B paddler to a paddler more interested in skill development(not that I am all that)

The maker spent a lot of time taking measurements to make sure the paddle was custom sized for loom width and diameter, he also asked a lot of questions about the paddling experience I was looking for then spent time with me to make sure I learned how to use it properly.

I see a lot of pointless fights on here about euro vs skinny sticks, just paddle what you prefer and know if you go over to the dark side, you may never come back :)

Broaden your horizons with a skinny stick(Lumpy) and it will improve your skills with your euro blade.

Wow I had no idea there was so much to the GP. I haven’t seen anyone paddling one so far but I am at a syspoisum/clinic this weekend. Maybe someone will have one and I can test it out. As far as my experience…been paddling white water for 20 yrs, canoe/kayak and just switched over to a sea kayak this year. I’ve owned one for a few years but lent it out more than I paddled it. I’ll reread all the info and follow the great links. Think I may have to attempt to build one for fun then learn.