Stupid GPs....

I finally got some serious time in with my Beale 2-piece. Air temps in the mid-30s, water at 33F, and a steady 25 mph breeze. No rescue practice as I had only a single open area between the ice floes and the wind really wanted to stuff me under the east edge. Concentrated on forward stroke, carved turns, sliding turns, and a little sculling.

I’m 6’2" in a T-165 and primary paddles have been Werners with big blades. Interested in GPs due to common winds here and ease of rescue paddle carry.

Carved a couple of my own to try initially… hated ‘em! Instruction came from Greg Stamer’s segments in the Foster series. My homemade paddles were heavy, lots of cavitation (couldn’t be me!), and just didn’t seem to have the manueverability of my Euros. Thus, GPs are stupid;)

Got the Beale just as the waters froze over so it hasn’t seen much action until last weekend. I had a few hours before my hole in the lake froze back up for the night.

Launched with the Beale and went paddlin’. Took a few minutes to get loosened up and into GP mode. And then… I was just amazed! Acceleration was a little slower than with the Euros but mid-range acceleration and top speed certainly are no worries. And once I got the hang of that funny little crunch thing I discovered that one can easily maintain a very respectable cruising speed with less effort than with the big blades. And the wind, hehehehe, this little stick just laughs at it! Doesn’t matter what direction its hammering me from the GP just ignores it.

Played around with extended paddle turns and thats no problem either. I did nearly suck myself over a couple of times while experimenting but you can really feel what the paddle’s doing and correct yourself.

Using the GP was no wetter for me than using the Euros. Emergency stops were very effective with a good layback. I wasn’t hooded heavy enough for regular immersion so I didn’t push the sculling far but I got enough of a feel of it to know that its gonna be easier than with a Euro.

Shallow waters were also fine using a lower stroke angle.

The two things that really blew me away using the GP was how quiet it was and how graceful it was. All onlookers commented upon both aspects.

Given my experience with the homemade paddles, I was afraid I might never learn to use a GP well but it seems to be coming on quite easily. Or maybe I just really suck with a Euro!

One problem I’ve always had with a Euro is carrying my stroke too far back past my hips. This does not make for an effective forward stroke, especially when at the high end of one’s cadence. The GP doesn’t seem to care about my bad habit.

So why was I so unimpressed with my homemade GPs? I think its safe to say not all GPs are created equal! The Beale paddle sings and dances through the water while my initial paddle making attempts were nothing more than flutter sticks.

It seems that GPs are much more versatile than I expected, much more efficient than I would have believed, and definitely at home on more waters than just the ocean.

Pleasant waters to all.


Now I gotta get me one.

We all…
told you that.

Happy “Greenland” Paddling billinpa

The paddles you carved
Holmes, What are the main differences between the paddles you made and the Beale? Any opinions on what makes the Beale better?


That’s great
that you tried other styles of greenland paddles. There are many variations of greenland paddles and they do work differently. I have tried some different styles that I did not care for at all. Now that you have a paddle that you like you can make some new paddles with slight variations of It’s width, length and loom and maybe come up with something you like even more.

It’s a wonder I liked the first GP I
ever used since it was so shabbily built. I have carved some that I just hate and they seem to be damn near the same as ones I love. It seems to me the differences that make them good are very small and hard to pin down. I’ve found that the fit, length, and flex are the things you have to get right. As I carve mine I continually check the feel of it and keep shaping until I hit that sweet spot. With flex you just never know until you paddle it.

Glad to hear it’s working out for you. Beale makes very good paddles.

Pulling past the hips
is actually OK, and in some circles considered good form with a GP. Maligiaq Padilla and Greg Stamer both teach it that way.

There’s an excercise you can do that illustrates that the paddle still provides thrust behind the hips — put the blade in the water slightly behind you, and lift it out of the water with the blade face parallel or almost parallel to the surface. It drives the boat forward.

I allow my blades to stay in the water as far as I can, and find it to be evry efficient. Also keeps my rhythm and cadence better that way.

There’s no one “right” way to do it, other than what works best for you. So, let your stroke happen, and fine tune it after you have some time in with the paddle. I bet it finds itself, with no conscious thought.



both of mine were longer, arthropocentric measurements may work well for the Aleuts and Inuit but tall skinny gringos end up off the chart :slight_smile:

One of my homebrews was 92" while the Beale is 88".

I also went with a 22" loom as my boat was 21.5" wide. And everytime I tried the recommended way to determine loom width I got a different measurement! So I went with my shoulder width and the beam of my strip built boat as a guide for the Beale paddle - its a 20" loom.

My homebrews had roots thick enough to support a house and the blades were too heavy also. The shoulders were far too abrupt and too ‘squared’.

When I first viewed Matt’s GP carving video it quickly became apparent just how far off I was!

In truth, I made the homebrews just to experiment with and not invest much money. The local cedar supply is pretty poor and I could not find any quarter or flatsawn boards. I just carved away at what I could find and the end result was a couple of heavy sticks that were nowhere near what a GP should be. It might help to realise I had never seen a GP prior to this carving attempt.

But now I’m ready to create!


I received a number of email comments all with a common denominator - ‘I told you so!’.


Sounds great…
and I shall try that little example you describe.

Its really strange how hard I had to work to develop a decent forward stroke with the Euro when I first switched from canoes to kayaks a few years ago. The GP seemed much easier to adapt to up front.

I’m sure its different for everyone but I have a suspicion that the GP will become my preferred paddle.


Howdy Don…
My waters are all frozen again but it won’t be long until I can rack up some miles and time under different conditions so I can really learn this thing. That will help me as I carve a few different paddles in understanding the change/effect relationships.

I really like having a wooden paddle in my hands.


My first one looked more like
a clumsy martial arts weapon than a kayak paddle!

My next one is going to be an inch longer than the Beale with an inch less loom. I believe I’ll emulate his blade and shoulder style until I am more experienced paddling with a GP.

I also intend to build a wider blade version ruggedly reinforced for river duty. And then there’s always the storm paddle…