Paddles and Speed

Question: I love my thin stick, but in the reading I’ve done, I’ve not been able to establish if they are faster than a fat blade. Do the Greenlanders use them only because they enjoy them or because they are faster as well? They are so delightful to use and easy to make I can’t understand why more people don’t use them. Thanks for any help you can give.

Answer: The speed of a kayaker has to do with many factors; including the kayak itself, but mainly, the technique of the person paddling it. The three main types of paddles are traditional paddles (Greenland sticks), European paddles (the Euro blade) and wing paddles. It is believed by many that of the three types, the wing blade is the fastest. Of the other two… it depends who you ask. I believe that it comes down to technique.

When I was in Greenland I only saw Greenland paddles. The purpose of the Greenland National Kayaking Championship is to preserve the traditions of the Greenlandic culture, and therefore, only traditional gear is used. However, the Greenland paddle is a remarkable tool, and so my thought falls to the common saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” This might be part of the reason that the European blade hasn’t become popular in Greenland.

As you said yourself, “they are so delightful to use and easy to make.” I have found that my Greenland paddles works well in everything I paddle in, from flat water to surf, and I don’t use any other kind of paddle. Hope this helps.

One Response to “Paddles and Speed”

  • Joe O'Blenis says:

    Hi Murrough and Helen,

    Murrough…looking for a little speed are you? What kind of distances do you do when paddling?
    One area where the Greenland Paddle really shines is when doing long distance. The way the paddle is designed, the limited windage from the blades combined with the right amount of flex throughout the paddle makes it much less fatiguing on the body, allowing you to go further, faster.
    I’m very comfortable with all three paddle types and have used them all extensively. Back in 2005 while living in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, I went out with all three types of paddles, a heart rate monitor and a GPS. What I did was travel the same piece of water, up and down over a set distance. I used the GPS to maintain the same pace at all times, 8.0 kph. On every test, my heart rate was 10 to 15 beats lower when using one of my Greenland Paddles.
    Now that being said, if you are in Sprint races or a pack race, the Wing will give you more sudden power and acceleration. But for a fast cruising speed and long distance, the Greenland paddle is all I use. I even use them now for marathon racing.
    I’ll be back out your way next June to reclaim the speed record for going around Vancouver Island by sea kayak…and it will be with Greenland sticks.

    If you’d like a few pointers on getting the speed up, send me an email. My website link is on Helen’s page under “Sponsors”.

    Cheers…Joe O’Blenis

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