I think I want greenland paddles...

I recently started using swift windswift paddles with a 210 shaft. I have a decent forward stroke, but prefer a lower angle stroke, and unfeathered paddle when touring (Iceman, Brent Reitz told me it was okay to modify the forward stroke to fit my own style when touring, just as long as I get that torso rotation in:)I can feather these blades at a 45 degree angle, if I want to to help with torso rotation. I have been very happy with them.

This is the year I really want to try and learn to roll, and to work on other paddle strokes, particularly sculling and bracing (now that my avocet is comfy with foam in front of the bulkhead instead of foot pegs!)

I don’t really know where to start in terms of length, etc. I am 5’5" and 132 pounds, and paddle a 22" wide boat. I like the idea of making my own paddles, but realistically that isn’t likely to happen. If I manage to stick around my house long enough to complete a project,it’s likely to be house and garden related! Besides, I don’t have any wooodworking skills-not yet anyway. The reason I mention this is because it seems many paddlers make their own greenland paddles.

So please share with me what you think!


I’m all thumbs when it comes to
woodworking, so I bought a Greenland paddle. Mine is a Superior non-shouldered wooden paddle and it is one of the best that I have tried.

Although mine is the non-shouldered version, they also make it in a shouldered style as well.

If you don’t want wood, you can also buy it in carbon. Personally, I prefer the feel and buoyancy of the wood.

Will you be bringing your paddle
to the SD paddlefest?

I want wood paddles, but don’t know the difference between shouldered and unshouldered.


Some folks like the shoulder to help establish and maintain hand position. Other folks think that it interferes with sliding strokes and so prefer the nonshouldered styles.

I also have an Avocet. I’ve made a greenland storm paddle for myself and am working on a standard paddle. The storm fits perfectly on the foredeck when I’m not using it, and rolls the Avocet very nicely.

too bad…
you missed the Mateo PaddleFest! I had 10 GL paddles to try! Shouldered and non, long, short, skinny and fat!

I wish I had made plans to continue on down to SD instead of coming home.

My personal favorite, lke WaterDoc, is a Superior non-shouldered. The advantages are more with the non (IMHO) and indexing is never a problem because the blade shape tells you where you are at.

next year I’ll do both Fests!!!


Superior shoulders…
are very soft. Super paddles.

BTW waterdoc - the carbon is more buoyant. Same volume - less weight.

I think it’s about time!
But don’t get caught up in that low angle stuff - if that’s your style fine - but GP works at all angles.

For a first GP I really recommend shouldered. These are not abrupt, but soft transitions on most nicer paddles (very soft on mine). Having somewhere a little more specific to grip will let you work on forward stroke easier - and the shoulders don’t really limit sliding/extension at all.

Sizing? Not hard.

For length: When standing you should just be able to reach up and wrap your finger tips over the top. For you I’d guess somewhere around 84" =/- 2"

For Loom: stand with arms at sides. bend arms at elbows 90 degrees bringing your forearms parallel to the floor. Make circles with your thumbs and forefingers. That’s about where the shoulders go (at or outside the circles). Do it a few times to average it. Again - guessing here, but I’d think an 18" loom should be alright, maybe a little less.

Blade width: Whatever you can grip. I like 3.5" and have pretty small hands. 3.25" to 3.5" should be good for a first paddle.

All this dimension stuff has a lot of leeway, and there are other methods. I just gave the most common. Some good plans you should look over if you build OR buy (with more details in sizing):


If you don’t want to carve - I also recommend the Superior GPs. Don’t get any better. Beale and Turtle also look good, and also maybe Tuktu. (Superiors have a set blade size [computer cut!] - so loom depends on overall length - but it tends to work out OK. Several of the others do 100% flexible sizing). A list of makers:


One caution. All those listed make good products - but some are very different. Betsie Bay and some others have long looms and are made for a different style of paddling founded and mostly practiced around the Great Lakes, not in Greenland! It’s low angle and hands 100% on the loom. Works for some, but I don’t like it and think it misses out on the best things about a GP. The Greenland grip has the thumb and forefinger wrapped around loom at the blade root, the rest of the hand resting comfortably on the blade roots. Leaves your hand more open and wrists neutral. It also naturally puts the blades an a nice angle (cant) without any real thought.

Another tip. Don’t over do it at first with speed/distance. The GP is easier on you overall - but the more open hand grip puts different stress on your tendons. They adapt rather slowly. Some notice no issues at all. Keeping a loose grip (really just hooked fingers) and open top hand prevents most, but if you push it (as in paddling long and hard) there is a slight chance of some mild tendinitis until you adapt to the grip.

I purchased a used GP
for $35 back in 2002. I found I did not like it and sold it. I am too used to having a feathered paddle. Put a wanted ad, check qaqaqusa.org

fwiw I have tried lots of different paddles and always come back to my wind swifts. They have plenty of purchase for bracing, excellent power and are real easy on the shoulders and joints.

The One You Gave Me
The Wind Swift you gave me has pretty much been my regular paddle ever since. Thanks again.

But I would like to try a GLP sometime just out of curiosity…

Your welcome
Thanks for that Lendal, I am getting it shortened and changing the angle.

You can borrow mine
It’s not getting out much these days. Dimmensions: 85"; 3.25 blades; unshouldered. I think it will fit you fine.

This will give me some incentive to start hacking another.

I tried 'Cudas windswift at DelValle and found it to be very similar in feel to my GP.

The offer is out there if any of the NCFR (NorCal Flatwater Rangers) want to dabble in the pleasures of the GP. :smiley:

Email me and we can discuss.


Another paddle source
I bought my GP from Don Beale who custom makes each paddle to fit your measurements, so you’ll get exactly what you want instead of making due with what’s available. Plus his paddles are less expensive than the mass produced Superior, Cricket, Betsey Bay etc.

Here’s the link to his site. http://www.bealepaddles.com/

Good luck.


I’ll have it with me—
If you would like to try it with your boat, you’re welcome to do so. I’m taking the Greenland strokes class on Saturday morning, so I’ll need it for that, but you can try it at any other time during the Symposium.


Maybe I’ll have to try one then----
and see if I can find ~$350 and a way to convince my wife why I “need” another paddle. She already thinks that the 7 we have are more than enough–especially since only two are hers.

Thanks everyone for all of your
thoughtful replies and kind offers! Steve, I will see you at the paddlefest, and Larry next time the NorCal Flatwater Rangers get together for a paddle, I would love to borrow your GP.

I will be sure to bookmark all of the refernce links.

Thanks again!


My conversion impressions
Here’s a bit of a log I kept on switching over to a gp this month:

11 Sept) After nearly tearing my shoulders from their sockets crossing a windy harbour with my Nimbus Wavewalker euro paddle, and watching my friend Patrick noodling along seemingly effortlessly in “low gear” with his gp, I finally made an honest effort to try one. The Greenland was initially hard to get used to, but once I did I found it to be MUCH easier on the joints, with no loss of speed. Noted disadvantages were slower acceleration, less effective corrective strokes, and less effective bracing and ruddering. The “feel” of the water is heightened however, and while the rudder strokes may not be as initially effective, they are much more tunable. That is; I can put the boat exactly where I want it but can’t make huge corrections.

I experienced some discomfort at first, but found that a canted stroke resulted in immediate relief of my initial hand numbness, and a very quiet paddle.

A few days later I tried the gp in some rough conditions, and noticed some difficulty accelerating to catch waves. On the plus side, the faster cadence and lower stroke made for excellent stability!

While I will not likely ever retire my Wavewalker, it will be spending more and more time on my aft deck I think. The gp just feels…right.

18 Sept) Discovered two really great things about the GP today:

1)Side sculling is a breeze, found I could sidle right up to another boat without breaking a sweat. The submerged GP blade seems infinitely more controllable than the Euro.

2)No fatigue! After 12 miles in less than ideal conditions, I felt ready for another 12. No shoulder pain, no screaming muscles.

I’m finding something new every time I use the thing.

26 Sept) Saturday on Antigonish Harbour, I launched my Prijon Catalina without unsnapping the rudder tether, something I have nearly never done before. I just shrugged and kept going, as I had noticed that I was using the rudder less and less anyway since switching (guess I can use that word now…) to the Greenland Paddle. In fact, I “forgot” to unsnap it until several hours and two lunch stops later. Somehow the hull feels far less loose than it did when using the Euro. Cool.

That and more
Those comment closely match what I found while switching over. Loved these snips:

“no loss of speed…

The “feel” of the water is heightened…

much more tunable…

very quiet paddle…

excellent stability…

The gp just feels…right…

Side sculling is a breeze…

infinitely more controllable than the Euro…

finding something new every time I use the thing…”

A few more notes of my own:

Any of strokes that seem less effective at first, you will find minor alterations that take care of it and make the GP seem more capable and secure over time. Use one exclusively for a year - then paddle with a euro again. You’ll see what I mean!

It’s about differences not shortcomings, and more about unlearning the Euro than learning the more intuitive GP.

Bracing and sprint speed are often mentioned as weak areas from recent crossover paddlers - but rarely from any who’ve paddled GP exclusively for a while (except in regards to GP not being the best tool for Surf/WW).

With a GP, braces will have less slap and more sweep. There is also more built in correction and adjustably in forward/brace component mix from the buoyancy and greater finesse so the more aggressive moves are not really needed.

For fast take offs with GP - don’t try to apply full power on first stroke. Dig deep (hands wet!) and ramp up the power over the first several strokes. No churn - smooth and steady. You may be surprised. Blade surface area is comparable to a euro (when fully submerged) - so the potential is there for good sprints and take offs - but again, to be effective with a GP you have to unlearn some euro habits (many you didn’t even know you had).

The biggest difference that I noticed
was while trying to sidesurf in through small or medium surf.

With the Euro paddle, I just need to put a low brace out and lean into it. With the GP, I found that on the smaller waves, there was not enough support to keep me from capsizing into the wave. However, by sculling that low brace back and forth, the problem is solved.

It appears to me that the GP is a much more dynamic tool. It works best when it is moving.

What about more on sidesurfing
I have onlys spend a few hours working wiht a greenland paddle and I was very impressed with it. I know I will explore further so I need ot ask.

So you’re surfing on a on a 4 to six footer. You end up broaching> you do wyou side surf. Nobody accussed me of finesse last time out. Just kept the elbows in and held on for dear life.

Sanjay, Bnystrom and other GP Titans welcome.

You can get quality Aleutian blanks
from a friend of mine. And I would think that he’d cut you a blank of the Greenland style as well. I’m almost certain he’s made them before. The one I have is an Aleutian paddle. The guy teaches classes where you build your own traditional West Greenland Kayaks, and (more often) Baidarkas. And he cuts blanks of the paddles that you just plane and sand into shape. It’s pretty simple even wo/ much knowledge of woodworking. If you don’t feel comfortable, just get ahold of a planer and practice on a couple two by fours first. That’s all the woodworking skills you need. And they cost like $90-$100 bucks I believe, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, here’s his website: