KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

Ask Greg

Posted by Greg on January 21, 2012

Welcome to the Q&A Page!

I’m happy to help answer your questions ranging from Greenland-style technique, making Greenland paddles, wing technique, Watertribe / ultra-distance kayak racing, kayak expeditions, kayak camping, surf kayaking and more.

I look forward to your questions!  If you prefer for your question not to appear on my blog, please let me know and I’ll answer privately.

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Greenland paddle / Wing paddle

Q: You have stated that the Greenland Paddle (GP) can act as a wing when the GP is used in a high wing type stroke. Have you done a test in your fast kayak, GP vs wing to determine advantages of one or the other with respect to efficiency and/or speed in non racing situations, eg., outings from 5 to 15 miles?

I have acquired both a wing (Onno) and a GP (Novorca) in the last year and have been learning both. At 4.2 kts, my traveling speed, the GP feels more efficient, but I can go at least 0.2 kts faster with the wing.  Jerry

A: Jerry,  Although I realize that you said non-racing situations, let me use that as an example, first, as it helps to clarify the issue.

To generalize, a racer is often trying to maximize speed over distance usually with an extremely light, unladen kayak. A sea kayaker is often trying the maximize the number of “miles per Snickers bars”, often with a heavy or gear-laden kayak, day after day. These are related, but are very different things and need to be viewed separately.




Catch before Unwinding. How?

Q:  What would you suggest to someone who wants to unlearn unwinding before the catch and start to get good muscle memory for catch before unwinding.

Because the kayak is already moving I find myself unwinding – irresistibly! ;-(  before catch. Apart from visualizing spearing a salmon, do you have other advice, tips, tricks, dry/ wet exercises etc to catch before unwinding?

A: When I do video analysis of students a common error is unwinding before the catch, or in other words, starting to apply power before the paddle is completely buried. This is a common power leak.

If you are “pulling” before the paddle is planted, not only is your stroke shortened (giving you less time to generate power), but the catch is often poor too (drawing air into the water — ventilation, and creating turbulence and making noise — “plop!”).

How short is a “model” stroke? For a wing you should be starting your exit when the blade reaches your knees and the blade should exit when your hand reaches your hip.  Since the stroke is so short, you can’t afford to waste any of it. A Greenland paddle also exits when your hand is at your hip, but the blades are long, and will exit behind you.




Forward Stroke with Greenland Paddle?

Q:  I would like to get the most out of my forward stroke with a Greenland Paddle, but I have been told different things about how to use the GP. Most emphasize torso rotation. Some say it is better not worry too much about rotation, but instead to reach and lean slightly forward, insert the paddle, then pull and sit-up. Some say to take the paddle out at the waist, as with an Euro-paddle. Some say to pull the paddle all the way through the stroke. Is there a style best suited to the GP and a Greenland style boat that gives the most power for the effort?
— Tom in North Carolina

A: Tom, thanks for the question.

Before going into specific techniques, following are some general points to ponder. There is a lot of condensed information here, you may have to read this more than once.

  1. Move the boat through the water, not the paddle. This is a huge mental change for most paddlers. Think of your paddle as an anchor that you plant into solid ground and then lever your boat forward using strong legwork and body rotation. When done properly you should be able to feel your paddle “load-up” with tension — it feels somewhat like you are suspended from the paddle, like hanging from a bar.