Greenland Paddles for novice?

Blackhawk

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May 27, 2020
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New York
I built my Arctic Tern 17.
I have a 220 “Euro Blade”.
I’m a novice kayaker.
I had rotator cuff injuries in the past. (Lacrosse).
I’m “advanced” in years, but in good shape.
I am taking some lessons but also kayaking on my own. The river is just too close.
I enjoy going long distance, but I noticed my old injuries hurting. Just sore, nothing bad. My orthopedic surgeon wife says to suck it up.
Is there any issue with going to a Greenland paddle as a novice? I’ve heard it’s easier on the shoulders for long paddling.
I searched, but didn’t see anything.
Thanks.
 

AM

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Jan 30, 2006
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Vancouver
No issue whatsoever. Do it if it feels right.

When you get around to learning to roll, you’ll likely find that a GP makes the process easier technically and easier on your shoulders.

Just note that if your instructor is not familiar with a GP, you’ll have to do your own reading for proper technique.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

JohnAbercrombie

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If there's a good forward stroke coach in your area, a change in stroke 'mechanics' might be a different solution.

Watching some Oscar Chalupsky stroke clinics online or getting the Brent Reitz DVD would be a start in that direction.
 

benson

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Sequim, Wa
It's not unusual for paddlers to transition from a Euro to a GP due to wrist or shoulder issues. It does take a bit of getting used to, but proper form encourages good torso rotation which reduces the tendency to arm paddle and helps utilize your core. You can find quite a bit of info on line. Brian Schultz of Cape Falcon Kayaks has a good video worth a look...https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=QlbuVGtx3F4&feature=emb_title. You may even decide to carve your own at some point. Have fun with it.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Brian Schultz of Cape Falcon Kayaks has a good video worth a look...https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=QlbuVGtx3F4&feature=emb_title.
That's a good video, but Brian's description of the 'Euro' stroke ("pushing forward with the upper hand and leaving your trailing hand mostly neutral") is not at all what most modern stroke coaches would advocate. Rather, it's more "never push forward with your upper hand, and try to keep the power arm straight, driving the paddle with body rotation and leg drive. Once the lower/power arm starts to bend, get the blade out of the water".
Calling the arm which should be delivering the power of the body rotation to the paddle (pulling the boat forward past the paddle blade which is 'anchored' in the water) "your trailing arm" tells a lot.
Greenland paddlers aren't immune to arm paddling, and the video also shows that.
Holding your hands closer together on the loom allows a longer stroke with less body rotation.
It is true that a paddlers do switch to Greenland paddles because they are having injuries, or 'aches and pains' with their 'Euro' paddles.
And, it's fun to use a paddle that you've made yourself.
Many paddlers, myself included, have gone through that phase. :)
 

mick_allen

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You can check it out yourself if your paddle has adjustable feather and can be set to 0deg feather and then test paddle with very low horizontal stroke where paddle axial rotation is essentially zero. I had a repetitive stress elbow situation and doing the above with mainly straightish arms and torso rotation was one way to keep going without aggravating the injury.
might work for you to some degree? but you might be screwed if you're river paddling as lots of stroke variation is probably req'd depending where you are and what yr doing.
idea anyway.
 

benson

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Sequim, Wa
A number of good thoughts have been mentioned. I do believe after paddling a GP for the last 15yrs+ it has been easier on my wrists (being un feathered) and on the shoulders using a lower angle stroke. Anyone with rotator cuff issues would be a good candidate to try a GP and learning proper technique essential. I've seen my share of GPs being used with a high angle stroke and/or arm paddled. Brian's video does tend to give his view of the Euro vs. GP debate which I will leave to him, but he does offer some good pointers. They are different paddles and use different styles although as John mentioned both use body rotation and leg drive to be most efficient. I would think a GP is certainly worth a try with an Arctic Tern
 

Blackhawk

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A number of good thoughts have been mentioned. I do believe after paddling a GP for the last 15yrs+ it has been easier on my wrists (being un feathered) and on the shoulders using a lower angle stroke. Anyone with rotator cuff issues would be a good candidate to try a GP and learning proper technique essential. I've seen my share of GPs being used with a high angle stroke and/or arm paddled. Brian's video does tend to give his view of the Euro vs. GP debate which I will leave to him, but he does offer some good pointers. They are different paddles and use different styles although as John mentioned both use body rotation and leg drive to be most efficient. I would think a GP is certainly worth a try with an Arctic Tern
I've been working with someone about every other week. It does seem a sore shoulder almost forces proper technique- it only seems to hurt when I get lazy.
What kind of length do you use for a GP? Same as the euro?
 

Mac50L

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Interesting comments because mine would be that the push, upper arm, is key to doing a good body rotation. One of our best sea kayakers (taught Adam how to paddle we say) emphasized the push.

That a Greenland stroke is low angle I'd only agree with when sitting waiting for others to catch up. Otherwise it is a high angle stroke, the start of it with the blade as close to the hull as possible and moving out as the body rotates. That moving out is where the Wing effect of the Greenland is used. Note the foil of a GP is symmetrical but still produces "lift", lift in the direction the kayak is moving.

Making a GP - a ~20 mm thick plank and the cutout bits on each side are used to build up the thickness. Doing it that way reduces the wastage greatly. Using a 4" x 2" length of wood and half of it is thrown away.

A rectangular loom fits the fingers and aids setting up the blade in water angle easily. Bend your fingers at the second joint. A right angle? So it is obvious a round shaft isn't the right shape.
 

benson

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Paddle length? Since we're sitting while paddling I like the concept of using "wingspan + cubit" ....allowing for variation in the length of a cubit as measured from elbow to base of hand or up to tip of middle finger. For me that is 84" to 90" with a standard GP. I'm currently making another 86" paddle with 19" loom and 3&1/4" blade. I've found longer paddles with a bit wider loom may perform better with a wider and/or higher decked boat and provide more power with a high angle paddle stroke as mentioned. That's a style you'll see used by Greenland paddlers when racing or getting up to speed, but I don't race. As with a euro blade a bit shorter paddle is more nimble and can be used with an increased cadence. Brian seems to prefer a bit wider loom in his video and that's the beauty of making your own GP. You can make it to fit you, your paddling style, your preferred grip, and the style of boat you use. Here's another popular GP instruction from Chuck Holst...http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com/graphics/kayak/greenland_03.pdf. Do what works for you... Jim
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Here's an excellent article by Greg Stamer on stroke technique with a Greenland paddle.
Notice that he makes clear the two different GP styles- the 'Greenland crunch' style and the wing-paddle style.

Learning to paddle with a high angle with the paddle moving away from the boat would develop good stroke techinique whether using a GP, wing, or standard ('Euro') paddle (it seems to me...).
 

benson

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Sequim, Wa
Great article John and a nice follow-up in the Anorak mag link(Qajaq USA site under technique). The latter mentions with the narrower hand placement on the loom/root your hands stay pretty much below shoulder level regardless of higher or lower angle stroke and can help to reduce shoulder issues . I've normally tried to keep my stroke at 45 degree or so, but obviously each paddler can find their sweet spot. Lots of good pointers for GP users to review.
 
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