Learning the hard way about GP's

I decided to give using a Greenland paddle a try. Friends of mine told me about a local woodworker who made GP’s of good quality. So I contacted him, tried out several paddles, and purchased one of them. I have paddled a lot around the lake I live on and took a week long trip to northern Ontario. My overall impression was favorable except the paddle seemed to flutter rather easily and if I tried to paddle with a forward cant I had to be careful it didn’t scoot under the boat and dump me over. The only forward stroke that seemed to work was a short, out at the hips stroke with a vertical blade. On further investigation I found that the woodworker designs his paddles to match the ones that Betsie Bay sells. A little searching on pnet and I discovered that they are designed for the style of Doug Vandoren, not the forward cant style. The blades are much too flat for that. Wish I had known this in advance. Now I have a hollow core wood paddle on order from Superior.

Learning the hard way about GP’s
I’ve been paddling with a Mark Rogers-made GP from Superior Kayaks for the last couple of years. I love it and would find it very difficult to go back to my Euro paddle.

With the Superior GP
I think you will find that you can do both the canted stroke and the Van Doren stroke. I took my first GP lessons from Doug Van Doren and used his technigues with the Superior paddle I bought at the same symposium. A few years later a lesson from Greg Stamer introduced me to the canted stroke (one of the best kayak classes I have ever taken). The Superior worked even better with the canted stroke. I picked up about 0.3 knots from using the canted stroke. These days I paddle mostly with the canted method, but will often switch to the Van Doren method briefly as a change pace (slightly different muscles) on longer paddles.

If you ever get a chance to get a GP lesson from Greg Stamer do not pass it up.

Good luck with the GP.


different greenland styles
What is the difference between the canted method and the Van Doren method? Unfortunately I am not aware of anyone who gives greenland style paddle lessons in the area. I built my own greenland paddle last summer and took it out a few times. I didnt’ like the way it moved through the water compared to my euro paddle. I love my euro paddle, but I would very much like to enjoy paddling the greenland paddle as well.

Where do you live?
There are techniques that make a greenland paddle work well and lessons from an experienced greenland paddler will help a lot. Getting lessons to learn how to efficiently use a greenland paddle is the best way to go.

Look at this page

Also watch the videos.

just as a point of clarification

– Last Updated: Aug-08-08 1:40 PM EST –

Al Anderson was making paddles for years before Doug even began paddling.

The paddle design and the style used by one paddler have nothing to do with another.

As both of these individuals are in my paddle club, and I paddle with Doug I just thought I would point that out.

As for the paddle not working with the stroke?

How long did you paddle with it before you decided it wasn't right?

Even the Superior paddles are different. And don't take this as a pitch for one way or the other, I use both a GP and a EURO, and i own some of al's paddles and a Superior Carbon Fiber GP.

But i had to paddle more than once with each to get the feel for it.

the canted method suggested by

– Last Updated: Aug-08-08 1:54 PM EST –

malligiaq padilla and written about by John Heath in Sea Kayaker mag is stating that a forward cant to the blade is more effecient and offers a better catch and easier release for the next stroke.

With a narrow bladed paddle and an experienced paddler with good technique, I feel that a slight forward cant is probably natural, rather than a forced conscious effort.

I think a lot has been made of this technique that is oversimplification and perhaps misleading. I think for 99% of the recreational paddlers who pick up a narrow paddle focusing on good posture, a good deep early catch, rotating your torso and releasing at or around the hip before you start shoveling water will get you much much further than worrying about how far forward your blade is canted.

Greg Stamer wrote this article for qajaq usa that summarizes the technique quite well.

here is the sea kayaker article:

How long did you paddle with it …
Virtually every day for about an hour (time it takes to circumnavigate my lake) for over an month and for a week of 6 to 8 hour day paddles in northern Ontario.

A traditional GP design…
…will work fine with either a canted stroke or the VanDoren-style stroke. A paddle like the BBK that’s designed specifically for the latter method doesn’t work well with a canted stroke for a couple of reasons:

  • The loom is too long, so the hands are not on the roots of the blades to help orient the paddle for a canted stroke.

  • The flat blades with the tacked-on, protruding loom, do not promote smooth water flow over the blade surface, nor do they produce as much lift as a smoother, curved-surface blade.

    A traditional GP will work at any angle. While there are subtle variations compared to a Euro stroke, you can use the same angles you’re used to with a Euro paddle. The BBK style paddle is designed for the silly, “knuckles scraping the deck” stroke and doesn’t work as well at higher angles.

    While either will move a boat just fine, traditional GP designs are much more versatile and if you really want to see what paddling a GP is all about, get a traditional-styled paddle.

With my Lumpy GP, with which I have
paddled often for a few months, I feel my stroke has improved proportionately to the increase in the cant angle. A steeper cant angle makes it easier to bury the blade faster (in both high and low-angle strokes) without sucking in air which improves cadence (and for me rhythm).

A steeper cant angle upon entry also gets steeper during the stroke which appears to generate power and seems also to facilitate the take-out.

Clearly a more

– Last Updated: Aug-08-08 2:52 PM EST –

traditional style of paddle like the superior might be more to your liking if you paddled that much with the other one and didn't like it.

However that said, you might want to have someone tape your forward stroke and watch yourself.

Your catch might need some work, your stroke work may need some work, and the timing of your release might be off. OR some combination therein.

Video tape is sort of fun anyway.

Post it on youtube, or vimeo!!!

PS the question about how long you paddled with it was not meant in a demeaning way, just to find out how to help.

I’ve paddled with both
and I don’t think the flat blade hurts the flow of water across the surface.

I personally have a preference for a more traditional style blade too, I like to have the control feeling of thumb and forefinger around the loom.

The style of the blade I don’t think would have any effect on whether or not you can cant it forward.

Certainly most people who are involved with teaching the canted stroke as it’s written by Greg are using more traditional style blades.

There are different styles
of greenland paddles that will allow different paddling techniques. Narrower paddles work well with a canted stroke and wider blades can work well with a perpendicular pull through the water. They both can be fun to use in different conditions. I like to use narrower blade paddles for cruising and wider blade paddles for surfing. Each design has it’s benefits.

Didn’t know they were so
complicated. I thought it was just paddle, paddle, paddle; left, right, left, etc. Maybe that’s why I had so much fun on Jocassee with them.

Leave the engineering to the designers and enjoy the experience.

Paddlin’ on


Richard you are full of it
You had opinions and thougts about each and every paddle and wee amazed at the subtleties that each one brought to the water.

Is this an age thing that you forgot already? We need to get a GP into your hands again.



And your’e still full of it.

Was that first gp custom fit?
I don’t think there is anything wrong or “nontraditional” about Betsy Bay’s other than their loom and off-the-rack sizing. A paddle that fits you will give better control over flutter and diving and almost immediately improve your technique, given that the paddle isn’t too extreme in design.

but the only problem I had

– Last Updated: Aug-09-08 4:33 PM EST –

was you taking them all back home.

Thanks a million for a great day.

Paddlin' on

just get on the water and paddle with it. Flutter is often the result of trying to put to much power on the first part of the stroke. Start easy and gradually add power. (at least at first, eventually you will get better and better)

Not really custom fit
The builder has several paddles in varying lengths. He brought them to the lake and let me try them for as long as I wanted. The one I bought is close to what I would have ordered as a custom paddle based on my height and arm length and hand size. I really don’t think custom fit is an issue. I have since looked at other greenland paddles. It is clear that the paddle I have is almost identical to the pictures on the Betsie Bay website. And it is clear that it is substantially different from pictures on the Beale/Lumpy/Superior websites and the other paddles I have since looked at. And I have since gone out and paddled with attention to all the things that have been suggested in this thread. I have not yet been able to test a Beale/Lumpy/Superior-like design. My opinion has not changed although I don’t want to give the impression that I think the paddle is a clunker. What I think (but cannot substantiate without more experience) is that it is fine for a very specific paddling style. That style is indeed ok for many people and situations. I can get around my lake just fine and keep up with my paddling friends. But others here say that the Beale/Lumpy/Superior design is better and allows more flexibility in paddling style, including a real forward cant style. So I intend to keep the paddle I have (given all, I still prefer it to my conventional paddle) and when my Superior paddle arrives give it a thorough test. I will report my impressions here. Thanks to everyone for the ideas and help.