I tried a Greenland Paddle

I recently bought an unbranded carbon greenland paddle off Amazon (230cm, 24-27 oz, ~524 cm2 area, 84cmx7.7cm blade, 61cm/24in loom). Today was my first time paddling with a greenland stick:

  • first 20 minutes: Questioning my purchase, considering returning the paddle. It’s awkward, weak, and makes a ton of awful noise through the water.

  • next 20 minutes: Hmm, it’s starting to show me something. If I stop fighting it and instead follow it where it wants to go it’s not bad.

  • after the first hour: This paddle is awesome. Paddling with it feels like buttering bread with a warm knife. I can’t believe the buoyancy. Everything feels effortless and there are so many variations of a forward stroke that feel efficient and sustainable. Sweep strokes are unreal. It makes turning a 14 footer feel like a 10 foot rec kayak.

  • I paddled for a total of 2 1/2 hours, and paddled constantly. I didn’t want to stop and would have kept going if I didn’t have somewhere I needed to be. I can’t wait to get back out on the water.

  • If I could make any changes to the paddle, I would decrease the loom length to 23in, make the blades a half inch wider, and make the edges sharper.

  • I have a couple decent Euro paddles (Aquabound Whiskey, Tango, and Werner Powerhouse… and for a beater aluminum/plastic shovel, the Seasense Xtreme II has a lot of power) that I like but I just can’t see a scenario outside of a shallow river where I’d ever want to choose any of them over this greenland paddle.


Congrats on your GP epiphany. The noise you mentioned is the paddle telling you you are wasting energy, as you learned. Cavitation, of sorts.
Buy, or preferably make, yourself a spare GP or two. Multiple resources available on carving your own fit to you, BrianNystrom.com and Capefalconkayaks.com, among others. Then sell the Euros :wink:


Welcome to team Greenland. :grin:


Getting feedback from the paddle on how to use it is extremely helpful. At first I tried to make adjustments: change the angle and location of entry, tweak how I push, when I drive with my legs, how i time my torso rotation, and so on. Sometimes I could reduce the noise, but it still felt like I was using a Euro blade with a weird shape.

Then about a half hour into paddling, I just tried plopping the paddle in the water and seeing what it would do. Plop in one angle, plop in at a different angle. Let the blade move and add power along the course it chooses rather than trying to tell it where to go. That’s when it started feeling like a totally different animal and something really special.


I think it is. Here’s a great video re the forward GP stroke by Greg Stamer, one of the masters: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4gZZ6oJ7RUo


And then when it teaches you about sculling… awesome.

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Epiphany is a good word for it - once you feel it and it clicks in your head, it’s a wonderful thing.

Re the noise, that’s the paddle drawing air down from the surface due to low pressure around the blade during entry. It’s called either ventilation or aeration, depending on who you talk to. GP velocities aren’t nearly high enough to cause cavitation - good news, since cavitation can damage blades.

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Carldelo, you are correct regards ventilation vs. cavitation. Interestingly, probably to none but me, the sound of a carbon-fiber GP ventilating bears a resemblance to the crackling sound of propeller cavitation of a merchant ship.

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Nice! That’s not something I’ve heard of before (and I teach engineering at a maritime academy). I had no idea one could heard propeller cavitation while onboard - is this from above or below decks? I’m guessing the sound would travel better below decks, conducting through the water directly to the hull plates. I’ll ask some of the old-timers about this next week. I have a colleague who was in a nuclear submarine for 7 years, I’ll bet he’s heard propeller cavitation. It’s pretty easy to hear the fizzing of cavitation in a garden hose that is tightly crimped, but that’s about the extent of my first-person experience with hearing cavitation.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving…

Welcome to the club! I use a nice Nick Shade (Guillemot Kayaks) wooden Greenland Paddle. It’s lightweight, warm to the touch, and always feels alive. You know exactly what it is doing at all times.


KP Grad, Dual Licensed. Leaning over an aft bulwark, I have heard the odd crackling of cavitation. With the prop of an old tanker being like a blunt instrument as compared to a sub’s, I’d guess cavitation would only be heard under strong acceleration of a sub.

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I’m curious why engineers have a monopoly on the use of the word “cavitation”, which also has a medical meaning. It’s suprising that dentists haven’t commented (about the void left after extracting a tooth, not the decay). After all, “aeration” and “ventilation” have alternate meanings. What word will we be allowed to use after a few landscapers and HVAC professionals come on this thread and correct us on the proper use of those words. Maybe the landscapers don’t have a guild and the HVAC just have a union, or maybe they don’t feel so protective.

I don’t like aeration as it applies to paddling, because I think of that as an intentional act, not an unfortunate side effect of paddling too fast. Same with ventilating, because it’s not intentional.

I didn’t look too hard, but can’t find any “specific” definition about air bubbles forming on a paddle. I did notice that the faster a paddle blade moves through the water, the more bubbles seem to form. However, I haven’t tried by accelerating a paddle from a completely submerged position.

Doesn’t matter to me. I’m open to any of the descriptive terms, and the multiple meaning. I’ll sort i

t out.

A multitude of technical terms have different meanings in varying fields, this is nothing new. Cavitation and ventilation/aeration are distinct and separate physical phenomena, which is why it’s important (to me, at least) to use the appropriate term. I’m going to try to describe the difference – anyone who is not interested is free to ignore the following:

In fluid flow, cavitation means local boiling of liquid due to very low pressure (below the vapor pressure). The bubbles in cavitating water flow are water vapor and collapse as soon as they leave the low pressure zone - they will not rise to the surface. The vapor bubble collapse can cause severe damage, on a ship’s propeller, for instance.

Ventilation and aeration mean incorporation of air into water. In paddling, this happens by drawing air down from the free surface usually when overpowering the paddle. In this case, air bubbles will be visible rising to the surface after they are swept off the paddle. Ventilation can reduce propulsion on a paddle, since it is interfering with the contact between the water and the paddle.


I read the technical description. I don’t disagree, and you don’t have to use the term to explain bubbles on a paddle. I have nothing to add.

:+1::+1::+1: thanks

collapsation - what I do when totally exhausted

As heatfmg has said, Greg Stamer is a great source of info regarding gp usage. The one thing I will offer here is that the cant, or angle of the blade into the water, is greater than you might realize. I find the when it’s great enough that the paddle gives you the sensation of wanting to dive as you plant, that’s what you’re after.

Ps. Greg is a friend and gave me my first gp instruction 15 or so years ago.