HOW TO USE YOUR PADDLE
Paddling with your Greenland paddle for the first time, you will discover that it takes more than physical strength to paddle your kayak forward. It also takes precision.
The proper technique can make a great difference to your sense of moving forward and of getting the most power for the effort.
On this page you can find some general points to ponder when using the Greenland paddle. If you are interested in reading an in-depth guide to a proper Greenland paddle technique, I highly recommend that of Björn Thomasson.
Hold your paddle in the right angle
Hold the paddle and keep your elbows bent with your forearms parallel to the deck. When you take a forward stroke with your Greenland paddle, the oval shaft ensures that the paddle’s upper edge points 10-15 degrees forward. The advantage is that you avoid any wobbling and that the blade is cleanly buried in the water.
You get the perfect angle when your stroke – from catch to exit – forms a flat oval when viewed from the side.
YOUR FIRST STROKE
If your Greenland paddle has a dihedral and a flat side, start by using the dihedral side.
When you are ready to take the first paddling stroke, place the blade in the water as far forward as possible. With a gentle but firm grip, you now pull yourself up to and past the paddle. At the same time, coil your torso so that your shoulder axis parallels with the paddle shaft.
When you have pulled yourself past the paddle, you place the other blade in the water as far forward as possible and repeat the above steps.
When taking a stroke, be sure to channel all the power you are creating to your stroke-side foot. That way you push the kayak with the power of your legs and obtain a steady, forward movement.
When paddling with a Greenland paddle for the first time, you will notice that you paddle with higher cadence than you are used to.
But with practice – and once you have gotten used to the paddle and have been focusing on your paddling style and technique – you will get better at planting the paddle in the water without noise, air and splash.
Your cadence will also be almost the same as if you were paddling with a Euro-paddle or a wing paddle.
KNOWING YOUR PADDLE
Now it is time to start using the flat side of your paddle. You use the same technique as when using the dihedral side, but the flat side gives you more horsepower and a change in your paddling rhythm when switching between the two sides. Plus, by now you have gained enough control of your paddle to be comfortable with the slightly different movement through the water.
When you have been paddling for a few hours, you can start experimenting with how much extra power you are able to transmit to the kayak without making any splashes or sounds. You might find that you have to slightly adjust your grip as it is all about fine tuning at this stage.
Once you can paddle without making any splash and noise in the water, you get what Greenland kayaking and the nearness to nature is all about,
AVOID WASTING YOUR ENERGY WHEN PADDLING
I see many kayakers using excessive force when paddling without moving forward any faster. Instead, they simply move the water and forget that a kayak is inactive.
Most kayaks have a theoretical top speed of 10-15 km/h. In practice, most kayakers paddle with 4-7 km/h, depending on factors such as kayak length, wind speed, current, waves and the kayaker’s physical strength, energy and mood.
Since the kayak cannot accelerate as an Italian sports car, trying to move the kayak forward by sprinting will just be a waste of energy.
DO YOU WORRY THAT YOU MIGHT SPEND TOO MUCH STRENGTH?
Then focus on the tip of your paddle blade. Does it shape a hole in the water? Does it create swirls and foam? Or do you feel that your paddle bends a lot and seems to wobble during the stroke? This may be a sign that you are wasting some of your energy.
When paddling your kayak, you should feel relaxed in both body and mind, especially if you want to paddle for long stretches without feeling fatigue. And this is where the Greenland paddle reveals its strength. An ordinary paddle has too big an area far away from the paddle centerline. A paddler can therefore easily spend too much energy on moving water and making swirls.
A Greenland paddle, on the other hand, keeps the working area spread on most of its length. This gives the paddler a more tranquil experience with the same speed. So if you want more speed, you should accelerate at an easy and steady pace and without making any noise and splash. This way, you will reach your destination while feeling less exhausted and without spending more time.
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