Use of the paddle...
Using Greenland paddles require a different technique and it may feel strange at first. The Inuit style kayak and paddle complement each other. The main differences are:
- The arms are held low near the cockpit. The stroke is a low horizontal arc with hands held shoulder width apart, elbows close to the sides. The paddle is at a shallow entry angle to the water and further out than with a wide paddle
- The stroke is shorter. The length of travel should move between 18" and 24" at the tips. (This depends on the length of the paddle itself.) The stroke should not extend beyond the hips.
- There is minimal use of shoulder rotation. This is not to infer that the arms do all the work. With the arms holding the paddle near the paddlers lap, rotate the torso. You will notice that it is possible to move the paddle tips the required distance without moving the arms. Now as you rotate your torso, move the paddle up and down to get the blades in the water.
- The cadence of the stroke is quicker. With this low, quick stroke, it is easy to increase the paddle rate or cadence. A good starting rate is about 60 strokes a minute (one, one thousand, two, one thousand, etc.) Increase or decrease this slightly to suit your own body build and paddle length.
- Use the whole paddle.
The intent of the Greenland paddle is to use all of it to meet the conditions when paddling, sculling, bracing and rolling.
This is the basic touring stroke. It is very efficient and allows a kayaker to paddle longer distances with less effort. When a power stroke is required, the blade can be placed close to the gunwale similar to a forward canoe stroke. You may notice the vortex shedding phenomenon or ‘flutter’. This is normal and none of the effectiveness is lost. In fact, there is belief that this blade ‘zigzagging’ through the water actually spreads out the time and distance the blade spends in the water allowing more pull for the same effort.
Another way of gaining power is to use the sliding stroke. This stroke is always used with a Storm paddle but is frequently employed with the regular paddle. The hands are held toward the center of the loom. As the stroke begins on the left, the left hand remains on the loom and the right hand is allowed to slide out to the edge of the paddle. The left hand pulls, the right hand pushes, the torso rotates to the left and the left foot pushes off the footpeg to transfer the energy to the hull. At the end of the stroke, the paddle is swung to the other side as the right hand returns to meet the left at the loom and the motion is mirrored on the right side. In actual practice the hands do not usually touch in the center and the blade is usually grasped a comfortable distance and not necessarily at the edge of the blade.
This stroke gives you the duel advantage of a much longer lever with no blade in the wind although is takes a while to get used to using it. Depending on how well your kayak tracks, perhaps 2 or 3 strokes can be taken on one side before switching over.
Greenland is not the only way to go, but neither is a 'Euro' blade.
Give a Greenland paddle an honest try and maybe you’ll be another convert.
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