Hybrid kayak paddle

I have made a few paddles such as Greenland, Aleutian, Euro and a few other non-descriptive proto-types in the past few years. Of them all there is one that stands out as my paddle of choice. It’s what I would call a Greenland/Aleut hybrid. It has the characteristics of a Greenland paddle in that the blades are symmetrical on both sides. The shape of the blade better resembles that of Aleut paddle in that from the end of the loom it has a shoulder and it runs to a four-inch width (as compared to the narrower width of a Greenland). It also has a pointed end like an Aleut paddle (I don’t feel the end shape matters). Where it differs from the Aleut paddle is that it does not have the pronounced ridge down the center on one side. The last ¾ length of blade has more of a distinct sharp edge (not blunt, but not to sharp to hold) on both sides as compared to a Greenland. The cross section resembles that of a top view of a kayak.

All my paddles I make out of western red cedar (with the exception of the Euro) and all come in close to the same weight. All my paddles are also sized (length) to my physical size. So I don’t see paddle weight or length as a factor in finding this paddle preferable.

As far as using this paddle I find that compared to the traditional Aleut paddle the missing central ridge gives it a bit more spring. I notice this spring effect most where just before the end of my stroke the spring of the paddle releases, giving off what illusively seams like an added push. The four-inch width of the blade as compared to a narrower Greenland allows for a more relaxed cadence at a touring pace. This I find favorable on trips of give or take 20 miles. The symmetrical blade shape I find great for going from a forward paddle to back paddle stroke. There is no need to be concerned with paddle orientation, great for rolling or sculling. The added width as compared to the Greenland adds more buoyancy making the sculling stroke a pleasure.

I’m now wondering if anyone else has made any hybrid paddles or any other hair brained paddle designs they have come to favor?

Chris Hess, in North Jersey.

chris - i’m trying to picture your design - does it resemble a toksook without the ridges ? - i like the toksook except for it’s weight (48oz)

Hybrid paddle
The paddle does not have the central ridge. The blade is about 4 inches wide for about the first foot and a half from the tip and angles down to the loom (hand grip area)from there. Quite similar to a traditional Aleut paddle. The Toksook seams to be a hybrid but I’m not sure of what paddle designs it’s comprised of.

Aleut paddle

– Last Updated: Nov-15-04 10:58 AM EST –

On Lew Plummer's site there are a few pictures of the Aleut paddle.


I trust you prefer a low angle stroke?
No designs to speak of yet. I can, however see the perks of the design with a shorter, low angle stroke and, as you stated, a slower cadence. Should be good on longer boats and long distances. How is your hybrid on muscles and joints at the end of the day?


Spring release stroke

The paddle lends itself to a low angle stroke, and that seams to work well. I have on a few occasions used it at a high angle and dug deeper into the water for a power stroke, such as moving out of the way of oncoming boat traffic. On these occasions there is an acceleration close to if not the same as that of the Euro since a lot of the blade is deep in the water providing more surface area in contact with the water. Since this paddle has some spring to it I’ve noticed that at the far end of a low angle stroke, say at the 5 o’clock position I shift the blade not up but away from the stern and the spring of the blade releases with a strange but gratifying burst of energy. Using a torso rotation as part of the stroke this spring release sets up the torso rotation, having the rotation more involuntary.

As far as a shorter stroke goes, I find I tend to initially start a paddle stroke at 2 o’clock and finish at 5 o’clock with this paddle. I don’t see this as a shorter stroke except as compared to the Euro paddle. However it allows for a more relaxed cadence at a touring pace. Once at a standard touring pace (compared to other paddlers with similar sized kayaks) I take about 15 minutes to condition my brain to evenly spread out the application of the stroke through the maximum muscle groups. If the gods grant me a good calm day this stroke leaves little if any physical fatigue at the end of a long tour using this paddle. Another reason I prefer this paddle.

Chris Hess in north Jersey

I find that my aluet paddle with a pointed tip wants to ventilate more easily than my greenland paddles. Maybe it’s because of an uncanted paddle stroke. Do you use a canted stroke with your new paddle? Sounds interesting.

cant & ventilation

I do use a canted orientation of the blade. The paddle has a shoulder and keeping half of my fingers over the shoulder portion gives the stroke a natural cant. Ventilation I find more so a conscience problem relating to a clean entry on the start of the initial placement of the blade more so that it relates to the design of the blade. I may be wrong, but I haven’t found a half-oval end of another similar (yet different in other aspects) paddle I have to ventilate any more or less. It appears to me to be related to the initial placement of the blade. Another reason I like this paddle is its quietness as far as audible noise once a non-ventilating placement is acquired. But that can be said for the traditional Greenland paddle as well.

Chris Hess in north Jersey.