Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: Greenland stroke
In Response To: Re: Greenland stroke (long) ()


Main reason why I was wondering about the tilted paddle/shouldered blades combination is that for instance in Derek's Sea Canoing (1989) there is no mention of either, and all the paddles pictured have no shoulders. Nor does John Dowd mention either in his book of same vintage. So at least western awareness of these seemed of younger date.

It has been interesting to test the paddle as I built it with too much of everything (shoulder, blade, thickness) to begin with. The first to go was some shoulder: a 45 cm loom was simply too short for me. Next came more taper to the blades (9,5 cm wide): now the taper starts at 20 cm from tips. At this point I also thinned the edges remembering your comments earlier.

Now as I tried the stroke variants you described the 45 degree short gave surprising power at the hip: it felt as if the water turned into molasses, and the boat leapt to its hull speed in 2-3 strokes. Also the kick was very immediate and brutal, no ifs or buts about it.

Since none of this can be my technique (in its infancy), it seems that at least the tilt must be pretty much OK. The shoulders are as Chuck Holst recommends, and now at 60 apart (hull width +3). Also the cross-section of blade ends must be right for same reasons.

Since there is so much (too much for quick cadence) grip, I guess the blades must be way too wide? Also the low cruising stroke has low cadence. How narrow should I go in your view, if I shall keep the 20 cm non-tapered tip area?

The fact that the kick is so brutal I attribute to the stiffness of the loom. It has a rectangular hollow and as Rob Macks predicted is stiff as a pipe. I tried to test its strength by setting it on two supports 80 cm apart and sat on it, almost taking my weight off my feet. No flex, no cracking. If supported at blade tips however the paddle will flex.

If I think about the way the power comes near the end of this stroke, I guess it is a good thing to have this stiffness: any power loaded into the paddle this late during the stroke would only be lost at the exit. Would you agree with this?

Then there is the stroke diagram: I can't quite agree with it. With my short euro using a high and close stroke the tip may describe such a path (minus tilt) but with this greenland stroke a more symmetrical path would seem to be the case. At least my hands wanted to mirror each other which would give a path resembling a fat ellipse or an egg on its side. No sharp corners and abrupt changes, at least in the shorter variant of stroke.

Or is this something a novice should try to work away from? I ask this because you said you would modify John Heath's diagram, and this opened up the issue as to how you would do it.