Greenland paddling tips

Just looking for some tips on how to get the most out of my new GP. I’m doing OK with it so far, and have watched some basic videos online, but thought you all might have some words of wisdom.

Should my elbows stay pretty low? I was thinking GPs were made to be paddled low angle, but it seems I can still paddle high-ish angle, while still keeping my arms lower. Also, should my hand be going a little behind my hips? Should I be reaching forward a lot for the catch phase, like people do with a Euro, or should I not worry about that as much?

Also, is it OK if my hands cross over the midline of the boat? If my back hand goes a little behind my hip, my front hand naturally crosses over the boat’s midline with some torso rotation. Plus, my lower hand will touch the water’s surface, or even go into the water. Is that alright?

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The Greenland Paddle Forward Stroke - YouTube In case you haven’t already seen this video by Greg Stamer, in it he addresses many of your questions.
Generally my elbows stay low, but when accelerating I do raise them and bring the paddle to a higher angle. With a GP the blade is buried fully at the catch before pulling on it, different than with the euro blade, and with the GP not neccesary to reach as far forward at the catch.
Core rotation as you note is important and most of the power generated comes as the blade sweeps by your hips. A little more forward thrust is generated as the blade is lifted out of the water well past your hips.
My upper hand typically does come to the centerline, and my lower hand typically touches the water.
In my opinion, very important to get some stroke instruction from a coach well versed in the proper use of the Greenland paddle.


The 2 things I find is the most obvious departures in Greenland stoke and those with Euro style paddles are;

#1 the paddle exists the water at about the 4:30 and the 7:30 position behind you, making a very long arc in the water, much farther back then you exit with a typical euro stroke. This is done because of a very pronounced body rotation. The elbows stay low but not in some formula proscribed in a technical way. It’s about natural movement! So different people will do it a bit differently one form another because of all the usual variables: height, width of shoulders, length of the paddle and width of the kayak at the beam…and so on. Don’t over think it.
The power is peaked with a GL paddle as it passes your mid thigh area, using body rotation from the butt to the shoulder line and from a firm push with the upper hand. The lower hand should touch the water.

#2 The GL paddle is moved all over — as compared to the Euro paddle. The upper hand is always touching the upper blade somewhere and sometime both hands are. So blade angle is SUPER easy to learn and understand. What ever angle the blade in your hand is at is identical to the one that’s in the water. Rolls, sculling turns and ruddering are extremely easy to learn with the GL (and also the Aleut) paddles.

The most common mistake is not using the whole blade, not immersing the entire thing under or on top of the water. Don’t be afraid to just move your hands anywhere that is logical, to get total surface contact with the working blade.
The GL paddle is not just a propulsion stick. It’s a steering lever, a brace, a stabilizer, a float and and push pole, and the more I have use them the more I see just how versatile they are.

There is always the argument that they a re not “as fast” as euro styles.
Ok----I will not argue that point because I see no speed records being set or broken with Greenland sticks.
BUT that is not to say a good GL paddler is slow. They certainly are not!

So if getting 4-8 miles down the water about 6-10 minutes faster is important to you for any reason the GL is not going to be as fast as the best Euro paddles if those euro paddles are used perfectly. I’d acknowledge that.

But if ease of turning, rolling, easier sculling and bracing, and a VERY FLAT learning curve with very forgiving aspects of it’s use, and every aspect of kayaking except a focus on a sight speed increase are important to you,------ you may find the GL paddles to be addictive.

I own many cheap Euro paddles I have picked up used in the last 3 years and now I also own 2 very good high-end euro paddles. I also have about 8 different GL and Aleut paddles (6.5 feet to 9 feet long and with various blade widths) I have made.
Right now I am trying to learn a fast and efficient stroke with a Warner Kalliste and it’s coming along well. But I AM having to learn it. I find the light Warner is not near as forgiving as my wood GL paddles. And I am just now getting the hang of using it to go fast. When I 1st got it I found if I pushed it hard and tried to use a fast cadence with it it would do a twisting flutter in my hands. It’s well known to be a super high quality paddle, but I am not yet a super high quality paddler.

It’s learning curve (for me) is steeper. And up to this point I am notably faster over distance with my GL and Aleut paddle because I CAN go fast in my cadence with them and I CAN use a lot of force per stroke with them. I had to l learn how to do that with the Warner and I am a lot better now then I was on May 16th when I got it, but I am still not 100% prefect in my euro strokes with it.

So speaking only for myself, at this point in my skill level I am fastest with my GL paddles. Not because the paddles themselves are faster, but because I use them better. My hands and forearms do not get tired with my GL paddles and the catch (from touching water to the point I apply power) is longer with the GL paddles so the impact on my shoulders and joints is nearly non-existent with the GL paddles. But when I try to really dig in and go fast with Euro paddles I feel the strain as soon as the blade is in the water, out front by my feet as opposed to along side where the body is better situated to apply that power.

Also for myself, because of the length and forgiving nature of the Aleut and GL paddles I do much better with them in tall waves and stiff winds. Now that is just about individual experience and I credit it to time using them more then the paddles themselves. I know of several other kayakers that do fine with euro blades and shorter shafts in wind and waves, so I can’t make a case of the GL being “better” for such use.
However those that use the Euro paddles have told me the same: they can’t make a case to say my wood sticks are any worse either.


My main problem using the paddle is my husband doesn’t like it in the car :unamused:
The dog gives me dirty looks too. He wants me to get the carbon fibre one that comes apart but I won’t do it.


Strap your paddle to the rack. If you’re worried about damage , get an appropriate diameter PVC tube to hold the paddle and strap it to the rack.


You could convert your one piece wooden paddle into a two piece:

Transform Wooden Paddle into Two - Carbon Fiber Ferrule | Gearlab Outdoors


Shoot, from the title of this thread I thought someone was going paddling in Greenland.

  • Carbon Fiber Ferrule transforms a one-piece wooden kayak paddle into two parts for easy commute and storage. Fitting Kit and instructions included. Measure, split, and trim your wooden kayak paddle with confidence.*

That’s very nice :+1:t3:

@Kevburg Just Lake Erie, haha

@szihn Thanks for all that info! It should be helpful. I totally hear you on the strain part. I was doing OK with my older Tsunami, but having recently upgraded to a 17’ Tempest, I think my muscles are feeling the effects a bit. I know people say that longer boats are faster (which is probably true in general), but I think one thing not mentioned as much is that they do require more “horsepower” to paddle. I think maybe this extra HP I’ve been putting out has been contributing to some soreness.

Anyway, like you said, with the Euro, it’s easy to feel the strain right away. The GP generates force, but it’s smoother and just feels easier, and nicer on the joints. I think that where that power kicks in make more sense with the GP. Feeling it peak around midstroke and farther back seems more ideal to me that where a Euro’s power peaks, up front, at the beginning of the stroke.

I’ve paddled many, many miles with my Cyprus, but I’m going to make myself use the GP for a while. After just one outing, I’m really liking it. BTW, you’ll probably get the hang of that Kalliste. Not sure how similar it is to my Cyprus, but I think I may have had some flutter when I got that initially. Now, I get zero flutter, and I feel like I can exert a ton of force. My problem is, I think all that exertion is causing me to be sore, especially when I’m paddling 100+ miles/mo.

I like all the theory behind GPs. I’ve always tended to paddle with long stroke with my Euro, and I probably bring it back a bit farther than the “rules” say. So, overall, I think my natural paddling style might be better matched with a GP. We shall see. I splurged and got the Kalleq in arctic crimson, and it’s a really nice looking paddle. Love the color scheme!


@MohaveFlyer Haha, I know what you mean. I have a relatively inexpensive wooden GP, and not being able to break it down is a bit of a challenge sometimes. Just getting it out of the house without whacking the door frame can be difficult =)


@heatfmg Thanks, I did see this video. Very good info! One thing I really like about GPs is how you’re supposed to use a LONG stroke. That’s how I naturally paddle, anyway. TBH, I never really liked the idea of pulling the Euro blade out “early”. I bet I was probably lifting some water with my Euro, which may be why my speeds suffered a bit, and I was getting sore.


I found this length thing to more of a problem when I went to get on an airplane. So I made some paddles to fly with.

Then there is this fun one, I haven’t posted a picture of for a bit. {made for my youngest daughter} Carbon in a purple hue with butterflies chasing each other.


Wow just :star_struck: wow :+1:t3:

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You didn’t ask about this but it might interest you to know that the GP is great for bracing and rolling. To get the purchase / bite / lift from a GP you push down and FORWARD at the same time. Down and backward works, too. Once you get that feel… it’s just great.


I had admired that special edition Kalleq on the Gearlab site and wondered if the unique color combo was intended to reflect the Greenland national flag with its red and white split design.

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I still love my laminated cedar one piece GP best of all, but I have to admit that the two piece Gearlab Akiak I got 5 years ago has pretty much the same swing weight and feel and is easier to carry in my stubby car.

And for extended travel (which I do with folding kayaks including checking the whole kit as airline baggage) I discovered that a standard padded hunting rifle bag fits perfectly. This pink camo is a little much but i don’t argue with a deal I found at a discount store for $11. I can fit a few other things in the case (like the norsaq I carved for my target harpoon) and it has shoulder strap so I can carry it easily slung across my back. And it protects the paddle (which cost me more than what I paid for my currently most-used kayak!)

I do get creepily approving looks from redneck guys when I carry the bag around.


I’ll bet you do! On the other hand, maybe they’ll think twice about being jerks.


The main thing that sets Greenland kayaks apart is their straighter keel line.
You have to heel them over to make sharper turns.

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@Rex Thanks for that! I was going to ask about bracing. I thought I read that there was a slightly different technique than with a Euro.