Greenland stick advice, suggestions

ok, i have a guilty admission. i do not like GPs. i have tried them in 10-15 minute bouts and i don’t really get it. this admission is guilty because as an avid paddler of many stripes, i want to like them. specifically, i want a paddle that is easy on the joints, relatively inexpensive and nicely stores on the front of the boat, in one piece, so that it can be plucked out in an emergency if needed, or to change gears when shoulders or wrists need a break from my big bladed Euro paddles.

so why don’t i like them? a few reasons…

for one, i find the stroke so different that i haven’t been able to adjust. for two, my GP loving friend tells me he can’t go back to Euro, he is only a GP paddler now because he can’t switch back and forth in the diff techniques. also, i am concerned about their effectiveness in hard conditions. i always have to slow down and wait for my buddy in strong wind as he can’t keep up and he stays away from strong currents since his paddle can’t brace the same way. his religious zeal for the GP is also a turn off.

watching TITS 2 there is a segment of that paddler with his GP and talking about how versatile they are for all strokes and conditions. then the camera shows him sweeping for his life on one side and he still isn’t turning the boat. is this indisputable proof that the GP is really not as good at maneuvering a sea kayak?

i hope i’m wrong, and feel free to kick the snot out of my conceptions here; honestly, i want to be convinced that i too can benefit from a GP…what amount of time and energy do i have to invest to paddle effectively with these paddles? do i have to join the cult too, pay dues and the like?

Ya Know…

– Last Updated: Feb-13-06 6:01 PM EST –

I just don't understand the need for "cult" stuff. Just use what works for you and for what you do. If you tried the GP and don't like it, there is no reason to keep doing it. Ditto Euros, wings, single blade paddles, et. al. :D

"Guilt" should be felt if you do something because some sort of "in" crowd is doing it. Rebellion is good.


In addition, there are Euro paddles and Euro paddles. If you are concerned about strain (and assuming your stroke is not at fault) try a shorter paddle or one with a different blade. You should not need to have a GP in order to deal with the problem. There are also Euro paddles that break into 3 and 4 pieces, making them much easier to store in or on your boat.

Sounds like you already have made up your mind (maybe boefore you started if 10-15 minutes is all you feel like experimenting.

If not, see my reply to Grayhawk’s GP thread. Either way, as the others said - use whaytever.

funny, i missed his posting
mine seems kinda redundant now.

It takes time & practice

– Last Updated: Feb-13-06 10:32 PM EST –

It took at least several months for me to really fall in love with a GP.

I also don't have any problem switching back to a Euro. I needed to do it this last fall on a trip paddling up the Colorado River. The GP just didn't have enough bite to easily paddle upstream.

As Sing said, go with what works for you, but if you decide you want to switch to a stick, it will take some determined practice.

In the group I paddle with, when the winds really kick up, the GP users out do the Euro users. I certainly wouldn't want to use it for surfing, but it is fine for launching and landing in surf and surfing open water swells.

If you don't like it, don't worry and be happy using a Euro.

i can switch
I use my gp almost all of the time, including windy conditions, but I have no real problem switching back to my Euro paddle, as I did yesterday. I was paddling upstream and found that I preferred it over the gp under those conditions. I switched back to my gp for paddling downstream. I don’t find it difficult to alternate between the two, adjusting my technique for each paddle, but I find the gp a little easier to use. Use whatever paddle feels good to you.


Doug Van Doren
I think the paddler you’re talking about in This is the Sea 2 is Doug Van Doren. He is using a sweep stroke but it seemed to me that he was surfing some smaller waves and was stopping a broach. The sweep stokes he was using seemed effective to me.

I’m not a big stick paddler (I just started using one this summer), but in my limited experience so far, I haven’t seen any significant difference in acceleration, maneuvering and rough water use between the euro and GP.


GP and Euro
The Europeans must have known about Greenland sticks before they developed euro blades, right? And they were developed as improvements on the design of the blade, right? The reason greenlanders used GPs was they didn’t have the variety of materials the Europeans had, it wasn’t because they experimented with all possible designs and decided GPs were the best. It was necessity.

That said, you won’t “get” GPs on your own. It is a very different stroke and not intuitive, imho. Spending an afternoon with somebody that knows how to explain proper use will be of enormous value.

I fooled around with them in prior years and never favored them over my werner. In 2005, I developed wrist discomfort which one doc says is carpel tunnel and another says is tendonitis, so I decided to switch to GP. I carried my werner as a spare. My wrists did improve. Then one outing in August I found myself without the GP for some reasons and used the Werner. It felt great!

Since then, I’ve carried both and switch during trips. Slightly different muscles are used, so it can be refreshing to switch. Trouble is, the GP is one piece and hard to store on the deck. A winter project is to add a ferrule and convert the GP to a 2-piecer. Hasn’t happened so far. Also, I don’t roll so hot with the GP stick.

A friend let me paddle with his paddle that has one of those ergonomic bent shafts. Didn’t use it long, but it felt great! You might want to try one of those if you are having pain while you are paddling.


I think it’s pretty cool to be able to
jump in any type of boat in most conditions with any type of paddling gear and be pretty darned good with it. I think that is what shows true seamanship. So keep trying new things and give yourself a chance to get a handle on that gear and after that this kind of “cult talk” won’t mean diddly, because you’ll be better than that.


forget the GP!
If you’ve given a paddle an honest try and you don’t like it, don’t worry about it and happily enjoy using the paddles that work for you be it GP, Euro, or wing.

I personally don’t have problems adjusting between Euro and GP but I do paddle whitewater so I’m constantly using both types of paddles. In the hands of a capable paddler, a GP is remarkably versatile and definitely suitable for the toughest conditions and they brace and roll beautifully. Personally, I switched to GP because my natural cadence seems to fit with it better and I’m a faster paddler as a result of it. I’m not lagging behind any groups these days and if your buddy is struggling with keeping up with the GP, he probably would struggle keeping up with a Euro as well.

I can’t defend the sweeping footage of Doug in TITS2 as that seemed a bit awkward to me as well but I’m not sure what the conditions were and the Valkyrie is a relatively hard tracking kayak.

There is no cult and people who believe there is one are just delusional. I’ve had the wonderful chance to learn Greenland techniques from the best Greenland paddlers in the country and one thing I’ve found in common is that none of them buy into any sort of Greenlandic dogma and are extremely openminded in regards to other paddling styles and equipment. Heck, the ones who take Greenland style too seriously are typically the poser wannabees anyways. I love the Greenland paddle and I promote it as much as I can but that’s due to it’s utility rather than any romanticism regarding its cultural heritage.

the Euro paddle isn’t an “improvement”…
The belief that Greenlanders didn’t have the materials needed to develop a wider paddle (Euro style) is a myth as Greenlanders had access to huge trees that floated to their shores. The GP was what the Greenlanders developed as an efficient and utilitarian tool and you can see the different styles of kayak paddles that the various paddling cultures developed. The Euro paddle probably developed from the canoe paddle since canoeing was more popular in Europe than kayaking in the early 1900s. I’m assuming with the growth of racing and whitewater, that the Euro paddle caught on and became mainstream. It’s a relatively new type of paddle and although I think it is the best paddle for whitewater and surf, I don’t think it’s an evolution in any way for touring. Based on your logic of materials/technology/etc. we all should be using wing paddles over Euro since they are an “improvement.”

good stuff
while i may sound like i have “made up my mind” and i have had little positive in my GP experience so far, i do value the input of pnetters and indeed i am open to positive influence.

so for those who cared to kick in your positive 2cents, thanks. i will likely try it out further and work it longer with some assistance in the future. and who knows, it may be an addition to my repetoire…

GPs are much better than euros…
When used as a lever to move large rocks… True!

They are much better for firewood, propping up a tarp, clubbing seals… :slight_smile:

So does that mean the “S”…
… in Caribou “S” stands for “stone”?

if you give up the GP
you’ll fit in better with the BCU types :slight_smile:

on the serious side in last weeks roll session I tried to roll with a euro/bent shaft and failed, didnt even get close, this after 12 reverse sweeps…i’m too lazy to get a roll with the euro so i’m stick with the GP…currently studying 2 part GPs and wishing Superior Kayaks would ceed to market demand and get on with it.

GP and euro/switching back and forth
I switch back and forth between Greenland and Euro paddles (I am dogmatic about being undogmatic) and I find that paddling Euro after a stretch of GP use is no problem at all , but when I paddle GP after a stretch (e.g. several weeks) of Euro paddling, initially there’s a flutter in my stroke , and it all feels weird for a bit until I settle into it.

I think the power phase of the Euro stroke begins farther forward (or earlier in the stroke) than with Greenland, so perhaps switching back to a GP results in flutter and a general “not right” feeling. But it settles down after a bit (maybe those fifteen minutes that you gave yourself weren’t enough.)and feels smooth as silk soon enough .But,like the others have said, if this just messes up your head (and your stroke, and general fun on the water) there’s no sense doing it, stick with what feels right.

The sweep strokes you saw in “This Is the Sea” are just part of Greenland paddling, not because the addler was overmatched; the stick is made to be extended. Most Greenland rolls and many braces, sweeps etc involve an extended paddle, one of the reasons (other than the availability of 2 x 4’s) that the widest part of the blade tends to be no wider that a “normal” hand can easily grip.

Whether paddling Euro or Gp, I like to use a GP as my spare paddle. the wood surface doesn’t scratch the deck, and why spend time assembling if you need your spare paddle, which by definition will mostly be in unexpected and possibly dire situations.

There are different techniques
used with greenland paddles than with euro paddles so it really pays to get some good instructions so you can make a better decision about the use of greenland paddles. There are some good instructors out there, hopefully you’ll get to spend some time with one. Many generalizations about the ineffectiveness of the greenland paddle are based on inexperience. It’s a different tool that when It’s techniques are learned will enhance the use of any other paddle you use.

4 stroke jet ski!!!