A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Greenland comprehensive

July 5, 2010
Emilie Phillips

Saturday we took a class up in Maine on Greenland kayaking techniques taught by Cheri and Turner. Initially it looked like there was only going to be one other student, and we knew her, so it was looking to be a fun day. The kayak shop holding the class is actually out on an island. So we got a 30 minute warm up paddle before class. It turned out a few other people joined the class last minute, but the student instructor ratio was still good.

The first order of business for me was to pick up my new paddle which I had ordered from Turner a month or so back after I broke mine. Yay for having a good paddle again! The morning was on paddling strokes – forward, left, right, sideways, etc. Some of the greenland specific sweep strokes kept turning my head around and I’d do them backwards. In a lot of ways it was a sampler. I didn’t get everything down pat, but I got enough pointers to keep practicing.

Then there was lunch and chatting. It turns out that in addition to being kind of famous, and good instructors, Cheri and Turner are just really nice fun people too. And they ski. They did a rolling demo which was a hoot. I had expected a sequence of fancy impressive rolls. But instead they stuck to the rolls we were going to be working on and pointed out specific bits of technique. Or at least they did that while Cheri wasn’t depriving Turner of his paddle and Norsaq and flipping him back upside down.

For the afternoon, Tyson, Barb, and I all worked on the storm roll — forward finishing and fairly tucked. Barb started out with a little more idea of how to do it than Tyson or I, and I think she got it a little more than either of us did. I worked through the progression of rolls to get there, but I never really got any of them solidly, and I kept getting dizzier and dizzier every attempt until I had to give up and go sit on shore. Tyson meanwhile was doing pretty well until his paddle snapped in half while he was upside down.

So there we were back to one good paddle between the two of us, and one really not very good spare. We figured we could probably borrow a decent paddle for the race. But Turner ended up taking pity on Tyson and lending him a paddle. The bit where Tyson ordered himself two paddles probably didn’t hurt any.

After that, the whole group actually retired to the kayak shop owner’s house for socializing and beverages. I think most everyone knew each other to some degree. They had a big parrot that said hello to me and let me pet it.

But finally it was time to get going. Tyson, Barb, and I took a much more leisurely pace back. We stopped at a 1850’s fort on the way. The stonework is still completely intact. And even some of the wood work and plaster was still there.

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Comments (4)

  • Paddle research

    Have you measured your speed in the bullet with the greenland paddles? How does it compare to the conventional broad paddles? The other issue with the two-man was matching paddling cadence. How do the two of you balance with the greenland paddles?

    • Re: Paddle research

      Well, yesterday we were averaging 4 miles per hour (that’s how fast the group was going). For the Blackburn last year with one standard euro blade and one euro wing, we averaged 5 mph. I’d say at those sort of speeds, the paddles aren’t too different. Although Tyson thought the euro wing was much more efficient than the standard euro paddle. We haven’t really tried pushing long and hard yet with the greenland sticks, so we’ll get that data from the race in two weeks.

      With two greenland paddles, and currently two paddles of exactly the same length and width, matching cadence is easy. Neither of us have even thought to try matching cadence with mixed euro and greenland. The power phasing on the strokes is completely different.

    • Re: Paddle research

      Our all out top speed is somewhere in the 7+mph range. I’ve seen 8mph on the GPS in what seemed like fair/objective conditions. However, the GPS doesn’t give a real steady reading and it hard to read while paddling like mad. We also have done very little controlled speed/sprint testing. Because of these issues, I can’t tell you which of a euro-wing, standard euro or Greenland is fastest for us. Given strong skilled paddlers, the Euro wing should be fastest and IMHO, the standard euro is the slowest.

      Peak speed that is sustainable only over short sprint isn’t of much interest for our purposes. Efficiency, sustained speed over distance and paddle versatility are more interesting. So, though I feel that the Euro wing is the fastest for just straight cruising, the Greenland seems like a close 2nd and is much more versatile.

      Though matching cadence (and phase) is always an issue, so long as we have paddles that are proportionally sized to our bodies, it works fine. I’ve found that minor variations in stroke length can go a long way to adapting my cadence to Emilie’s.

      It all works fine until she is (un?)consciously trying to match my cadence and then we get this nasty feedback in the system that can go unstable. 😉