Re: Greenland paddles

Posted by Kurt Maurer on May 25, 2005

Karl, you're asking a really good question here, although getting an unbiased answer may be a tricky proposition. But I'm probably as good as anybody to lissen to, and I'll tell ya why:

I'm struggling to learn to love the GP. I want to love it because it's cheap, first and foremost; it's easy to make at home and experiment with (shape, length, etc., etc.); it's traditional; it looks like so much FUN in the hands of skilled GP'ers; and finally, because it's really weird to many folks, and I'm a weird kind of guy.

So how am I managing with it so far, you ask? Well, I'm getting better with it slowly, but surely, and even preferring it on some days. Some people take to it instantly, others never at all. Me, I'm perservering stubbornly, determined to make a go of it.

Note: My primary Euro blade is a 220cm Onno Carbon Signature full tour, and my backup is a 215cm Werner (can't remember the model name, sorry) full carbon. Both are straight shaft, used feathered, and in the 21 oz class. The Onno is the better blade design, in my opinion, while the Werner has the nicer shaft/ferrule arrangement (2-piecers for me, always). I prefer the shorter length, wish the Onno was a 215 also (I'm 5'-7").

Here are some pros and cons of each, as far as I'm able to unnerstan' it so far:

Euro blade pros: Power, lotsa power. Quick acceleration, authoritative stern rudder in surf. They keep you nice and dry.

Euro blade cons: First of all, feathering blades is STUPID!! Yes, I use mine feathered, and, like smoking, I find it a much more difficult bad habit to shed than to start. If feathering blades assists you in upwind conditions, then straight blades do the same downwind. In the meantime, that whacky blade will be oriented in a bad way when you most need it to be right. I can't tell you how many accidental capzises I have seen come from a sudden brace... with a feathered blade! GA-LOOSH!! Euro blades also DIG on you, and way too often when most need 'em not to (as if digging is ever desireable!). Finally, lightweight Euros are expen$ive.

Greenland paddle pros: CHEAP, light, easy to make, look cool, subject to many more centuries of R&D than the Euro (draw your own conclusions here), and most importantly, splendidly well-behaved under water! They never, ever, dig, period. Which makes all sorts of techniques ever so much easier, right down to swooshing mud clods off the ends (yeah, we do that a lot in Texas). Blade orientation is automatic - if it's in your hands, it's lined up correctly, on BOTH ENDS, thakyouverymuch. It makes a great push-pole, weapon, club, etc. It requires more skill from the paddler to use well and effectively.

Greenland paddle cons: Not as powerful as a Euro paddle for initial strokes, rudders, or baces, although lots of folks will debate this (remember, this is just my opinion as a greenhorn Greenland wannabe). It's a wet(ter) ride. It requires more skill from the paddler to use well and effectively.

If you're struggling with your rolling technique, switch to a GP and get 'er going again. Then do the same with a GP "storm paddle". Now go back to your Euro and enjoy the most deliciously effortless slow-motion relaxed rolls you ever imagined! The GP will add 190 horsepower to your Euro, or at least, it certainly did for me.

Random Notes:

1. The wisest paddler (for my money) will tell you that each type has its place, both ought to be mastered and enjoyed, and neither ought to be canned by any means.

2. I have heard it said that Euro paddles for sea kayaks should never be longer than 220 cm, especially if you wish to advance your skills, and by golly, I agree. The extended paddle roll should be the first you learn, and the last to fail for the rest of your stinkin' life. It is my *bombproof roll*. Long paddles make the extended roll nearly impossible. Shorter paddles maneuver so much more quickly and efficiently not only for rolling, but for everything else you do.

Cheers, Kurt

photo: A fresh batch of GPs, all WRC, and about 21 oz each.

In Response to: Re: Greenland paddles by John N on May 25, 2005