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greenland paddle into the water

5 reasons to go for a Greenland paddle

5 reasons to go for a Greenland paddle

Photo by Björn Nehrhoff

There is no side to choose between the Euro blade and Greenland paddle – they each have pros and cons so I won’t argue the supremacy of either, rather just highlight the ways in which the Greenlander has enriched my paddling experience and for sure will level up yours!


The Greenland paddle is a natural piece of time-hewn wisdom, it is equipment that has been improved and perfected over thousands of years and you feel all that flow when paddling traditionally. It’s a whole new sensation that, funnily enough, may throw you off the first couple of tries because it requires a bit of mastering to sincerely be enjoyable, but once you achieve that, with not too much effort, you know you are hooked to the natural vibe of a traditional paddle for life.


Going on the water, I always bring both. There is a time and place for each and for me, I like to start out to sea with my Euro blade and swap paddles half way through, especially on longer trips, because the Greenlander is so fluent and swift that it asks little to no effort from your joints, plus being so compact and light it is a nice back-up to have on your deck. It is interesting and very liberating to swap technique mid-trip, as going from the Euro blade to a Greenland paddle, where your paddling becomes more fast paced but lighter, allows you to rest and recuperate to last long trips so it’s kind of a must-have for lengthy sea kayak trips.


Rolling and sculling – there is no match for a Greenland paddle. The freedom and variety you can have rolling your kayak with a wooden paddle is amazing. The pure buoyancy of the Greenlander helps to make sense of rolling, not to mention it makes the whole thing easier, because the paddle’s shape always tells you for sure, how it’s positioned so learning to roll is a very natural process, using the Greenlander.


Greenland paddling technique differs from Euro blade and the easiest way to learn it is simply to go with the flow. It won’t allow you to make the wrong moves as you feel it right away, the dithering of the blade. Just sense the movement of the paddle …and maybe also watch some videos on YouTube – there are plenty. The paddling options a Greenlander gives you are vast, because the shape of the paddle allows you to effortlessly shift your hands on the paddle to allow power strokes and smooth turning.


Last but not least – the Greenland paddle just looks super sweet! There are so many options and variations out there, which means you have the freedom to find the one that is right for you. The Greenland paddle, besides being enjoyable and eerily quiet, is significant and has a history of it’s own, which is something you can truly appreciate.

History, Skills

Greenland rolling and competitions


Danish Champion of Greenland rolls Klaus G Larsen with his signed Greenland paddle by EastPole Paddles

Greenland rolling and competitions


Pictures: Klaus G. Larsen


For many centuries, Greenland was essentially a land of kayakers. The seal was the mainstay of the Inuit economy, and the kayak was a silent mean for catching it. A man was judged primarily according to hunting ability and skill as a kayaker. Since swimming was not a common skill among inuits, rolling a kayak was essential to be successful and to return alive from the sea. Rolling’s origin in the cold waters of Greenland has been well documented as far back as the 1500’s, and presumably predated that by many centuries. A survey taken in 1911 showed that about 40% of Inuit hunters were able to roll their kayak.

Around 1920, the sea temperature along the coast of Greenland became warmer.  Kayak hunting became less important and fishing in power boats increased. A whole generation grew up with almost no knowledge of kayaking and rolling.


Greenland kayaking renaissance

In 1980’s, the ancient Greenlandic kayaking and rolling skills were in serious danger of being lost forever. In fact many of the techniques were lost but to one man – Manasse Mathaeussen. In 1983, three ancient Greenland kayaks from the Netherlands were loaned to the Museum of Greenland at Nuuk. Some young Greenlanders saw these on exhibit and were impressed that their ancestors hundreds of years ago had such sleek crafts and the skill to use them. These young men then decided to form a qajaq (kayak) club in order to preserve their kayaking heritage. Thankfully the club was able to bring together the veteran seal catchers with an eager band of students and the knowledge was passed on to a new generation. The following years, qajaq clubs were established in the main population centers of Greenland. The Qaannat Kattuffiat (the Greenland Kayaking Association) was soon formed -it is an organization dedicated to keeping the traditional kayaking skills alive. These skills include rolling, paddling techniques, kayak building, tuilik making and other aspects of the Greenland kayaking culture. Today, Qaannat Kattuffiat has around 25 member clubs, 3 of them from outside of Greenland (Denmark, USA and Japan).


Greenland Championship

Among other activities, Qaannat Kattuffiat holds the annual Greenland Championship. Paddlers from member clubs come together to one designated club and compete in paddling, harpoon throwing, rolling and rope gymnastics. The competition was and is very much a team based event where the clubs compete collectively as a community. Though there are individual awards the club spirit and collaboration feature prominently in the event.

Since the inception of the Greenland Kayaking Championship many foreign paddlers have also attended the the championships to test their skills and compare. Competitive rolling, working through the published list of competition rolls is considered by some a badge of honor, and going to Greenland to compete is the pinnacle of that passion.


Competitive rolling

There are many ways to compete in Greenland rolling, competitions could be based on speed i.e. how many rolls are completed in e.g. 20 seconds or be based on endurance i.e. how many rolls are completed in a row. However the most common way is to use the same rules as for Greenland Championship. The score-sheet (see below) includes 35 different techniques, 33 of them are actual rolls and two additional disciplines are paddling upside down and the walrus pull. The list begins with easier rolls and ends up with the more complicated ones. Most of the rolls in this list have historical background. Each roll was developed to deal with certain conditions. Competition has helped to ensure that these traditional paddling skills stay alive.  But it has also resulted many rolling developments like the forward finishing brick roll and the straight jacket roll which evolved from highly skilled competitors inventing new challenges.

Each roll is performed to the left and the right side of the kayak. Contestant will receive two scores („Left“ and „Right“ columns on the score sheet) for each roll. If the roll is performed on first try and there are no technical faults, the contestant will get a score which is written into sub-column „More“. If the contestant needs second try and/or there are technical faults, the contestant will get the score written in sub-column „Less“. As there are 33 different rolls, which should be performed to both sides, then the paddler should make 66 successful rolls to reach the perfect score!


Greenland Rolling Competition Scoresheet by


Greenland Rollin Scoresheet2


Jersey kayak

Sea kayaking with Greenland paddles in Jersey, THE ISLAND OF THE TIDES

Sea kayaking with Greenland paddles in Jersey, THE ISLAND OF THE TIDES

Text and photos: Derek Hairon, British Canoeing Level 5 Sea Kayak Coach, Director of Jersey Kayak Adventures


Sea kayaking in Jersey caves

Sea kayaking in caves of Jersey

Jersey, the island of the tides, is a remarkable sea kayaking destination. Don’t confuse ‘old’ Jersey with it’s American namesake New Jersey. The island lies in the western part of the English Channel. It’s not part of England and has it’s own government or, as the islanders like to point out, it’s not quite British!

Though it appears to be only a small island sea kayakers quickly discover there is an enormous range of sea kayaking experiences around the coastline. From high cliffs, deep caves and rock gardens to gentle coastal trips through the largest rocky intertidal area in Europe. Mess up your tide times and a gentle paddle can become a 2km walk as you drag your kayak across what some people call a lunar-like landscape. For those paddlers who prefer to push their limits Jersey has tides of up to 12m, tide races off a few headlands and some excellent overfalls. Plus, a top-class west-facing surf beach where the next bit of land is Newfoundland across the Atlantic. There is even a few offshore paddles to Les Écréhous, Sark, Paternosters and Les Minquiers.

Jersey has a well-developed economy with good air and sea links, lots of hotels and restaurants, so any visit can be more than just a sea kayak trip.

Why do you have a range of kayaks and paddles?

When you run a sea kayak centre, our clients like the opportunity to use and thoroughly test kayaks and kit in a wide range of conditions.

I often meet sea kayakers who when asked about their reason for selecting a particular design of paddle give one of thee answers:

  • it was a special price
  • they’d read some good reviews
  • a friend had the same model, and they used it for a short time
  • the paddle was the same as the one they used on their first course
  • everyone in their club uses the same design.

All these approaches ignore that we are all different, just as the type of paddling we undertake varies. The paddle that may be great for one person may be inappropriate for another. Much depends on the way you paddle and your own needs. A few minutes testing a paddle on just one type of water or, ages spent trawling the internet for paddle reviews does not replace the need to get out paddling and then decide what paddle is best for you. Often, there may be a trade-off, but at least you will be able to explain with some clarity your reasons for selecting a specific paddle with a higher level of understanding. Furthermore, you need time and the chance to paddle in a range of conditions to decide what paddle design is best for you.

If you paddle with Jersey Kayak Adventures, you’ll find we have everything from Euro to Wing and Greenland style paddles in a range of lengths and blade areas. On a multi-day course or kayak trail, this means you get the chance to try a paddle for a reasonable time and to compare and contrast the merits of each design. Plus, when it’s not the shop or a friends paddle, you can really put the paddle under a bit of pressure in a range of conditions. One nice thing with the Greenland paddles is that they can take some rough handling, especially in rock gardens. We can even supply kayaks and paddle kit so you can fly to Jersey (fights from most UK national and many European airports) instead of spending many hours on the motorways of the UK and Europe.

For those who want to really understand and improve their forward paddling technique, we also offer coaching. You can even tune-up your skills using our “slider” paddle machine. The “slider” is designed by former world champion paddler Ivan Lawler who knows his stuff about good forward paddling technique. Many paddlers are surprised at just how much propulsive power is transferred from the lower body and feet. Or, as we like to say “kayaking is a leg sport, not an arm sport!”

There is, of course, many different manufacturers of Greenland paddle. I was drawn to selecting from the range of EastPole paddles a a result of the feel, care and strength of the design at an affordable price. It is therefore great to see people experimenting with a variety of designs in various sea conditions as they develop their understanding of the elegance of sea kayaking and paddle technique.

Whatever you do, don’t just follow the herd and use a particular brand or design of paddle. Experiment and explore what suits your own style of paddling. And, ensure you get some coaching, so you develop an excellent forward paddle technique!


VIDEO! How to roll – Forward Ending Rolls by Paul Schröder vol3

Third tutorial explains how to do the Roto Roll. It’s the next step in the forward ending roll progression. The goal of this progression is to master the Siukkut Pallortillugu Masikkut aka the storm roll. It’s quite a tricky maneuver, but very funny and when you do it right the next step to the Siukkut Pallortillugu Masikkut is just peanuts. And by the way, when you manage to do it only with the inner arm, the Tallit paarlatsillugit paateqarluni masikkut(crossed armed storm roll) is included 😉 .
See more videos vol1 and vol2

VIDEO! How to roll – Forward Ending Rolls by Paul Schröder vol3

VIDEO! How to roll – Forward Ending Rolls by Paul Schröder vol2

The second tutorial video explains how to perform the Kingumut Naatillugu aka Reverse Sweep Roll. It’s the second step in the forward ending roll progression, which bases on the Palluussineq from the first video. The goal of this progression is to master your Siukkut Pallortillugu Masikkut aka the storm roll and perhaps even other more difficult and fun forward ending rolls like Assamik Masikkut aka Hand-Storm Roll.



See more videos How to roll? Forward ending rolls Vol1

VIDEO! How to roll – Forward Ending Rolls by Paul Schröder vol2

40 greenland rolls in 5 minutes

VIDEO! Greenland paddler Paul Schröder


Name: Paul Schröder
Age: 37
Profession: Actor
Locaton: Hamburg, Germany
Paddling and rolling: started 2016 and first roll: 2017
Practice: 1-2 times a week
Paddles: EastPole Nanook BoneEdge & EastPole Aleutian, 3 selfmade paddles (one regular built by youtube tutorial, one in a course from Thygesen’s ‘norwegian wood’, one spare paddle)
Kayak: Zegul Arrow Play MV

Paul Schröder: “I learned the rolls mostly by myself. I bought the two dvd’s with Dubside & Maligiac and tried to copy the movements. I took part in 3 or 4 rolling courses. The last was for one day with Dubside in summer 2019 in southern Norway.”

VIDEO: 40 greenland rolls in 5 minutes.


greenland kayak paddles



Photos: by Harvey Golden

Here you find good selection of kayak paddle replicas. Different paddles, different shapes, different areas and different centuries.


replica paddles

1. Inland Chukchi: L.99-1/2″x 6-1/4″
2. Kodiak: 62-3/4″x 4-5/8″
3. Norton Sound: 64-1/2″x 4-1/4″,
4. Bering Sea Yuit: 60-3/4″x 4-1/4″
5. Norton Sound: 88-5/8″x 3-5/8″
6. MacKenzie River Delta: 99-1/4″x 4-5/16″
7. Copper Inuit: 86-1/2″x 5-5/8″
8. Caribou Inuit: 107-7/8″x 3-5/16″
9. Labrador: 137-7/8″x 2-7/16″,
10. Polar Greenland: 103-3/8″x 2-7/8″
11. Upernavik Greenland: 92-1/8″x 2-7/8″
12. Illorsuit Greenland: 94″x 3-3/8″,
13. 17th C. West Greenland: 84-3/8″x 4-5/8″
14. 17th C. West Greenland: 86″x 3-3/8″,
15. West Greenland (17-1800s): 86-3/8″x 3-5/8″
16. West Greenland (17-1800s): 79-7/8″x 2-7/8″
17. West Greenland 17th C.: 81-1/8″x 3-1/4″
18. East Greenland: 83-1/4″x 3-1/16″


replica paddles 1

1. West Greenland (20th C.): L. 6’4-5/8″ x 2-3/8″
2. Koniagmiut: same as no. 2 above.
3. Nattilingmiut: L. 8’4-5/8″ x 4-1/2″
4. Norton Sound: same as no. 5 above.
5. Bering Straits: L. 65″ x 4″
6. Koryak hand-paddle (1 of 2 per kayak): L. 14-1/2″ x 4-7/8″


replica paddles 2

A. Kotzebue Sound: L. 93″x 4-7/16″
B. Aleutian: L. 85-3/4″x 3-9/16″
C. Aleutian: L. 99″x 3-7/16″
D. Bering Sea: L. 5’1″x 5-1/2″
E. King Island: L. 95-1/8″x 4-1/2″

Read more about documented paddles and kayaks from history.

kayaks of greenland 1

Kayaks of Greenland

Kayaks of Greenland

The History and Development of the Greenlandic Hunting Kayak, 1600-2000

Author: Harvey Golden
Publicher: White House Grocery Press 2006


The ancestors of the modern Greenlanders have inhabited Greenland and used kayaks there for a millennium. During that time kayak designs have changed in response to migrations to lower latitudes, a changing climate, and cultural influences.

KAYAKS OF GREENLAND documents the broad diversity of kayak types from Greenland as well as thier history, development, function, construction and how the various types relate to each other. Harvey Golden has studied over 100 Greenland kayaks in museums and private collections and has brought this research together in this heavily illustrated volume highlighting the trends and variations of Greenlandic kayaks over the last 400 years.

Golden´s experience with Greenland kayaks goes well beyond studies in a museum context; he has built and used eighteen full-size replicas of the kayaks in this study, supplementing his understandings of how these kayaks were built and how they feel on the water.

KAYAKS OF GREENLAND is a in-depth look at the construction, design, variation, and evolution of the Greenlandic hunting kayak.   The spectrum of kayak forms from Greenland is linked to pre-historic forms from the Bering Straits and is analyzed within a changing cultural and climatic context. 104 scale drawings of kayaks are presented, representing examples from the early 17th century through the end of the 20th century.   Aside from the 104 scale drawings of kayaks, there are 407 figures consisting of historic images and technical illustration.

79 paddles are also presented in scale-drawings including Maligiaq Padilla´s paddle. This paddle he used in Sisimiut at 1998 the year he became the youngest person to win the Greenland National Kayaking Champinships at age 16. This paddle was destroyed in his hands as it buckled against the ceiling during an otherwise uneventful escalator ride in Orlando Airport at 1999. Maligiaq said that the paddle was his favorite at the time, and that he had to make a new one right away at Greg Stamer`s house for paddling demonstrations.


greenland paddles



Searching for the Finmen

Searching for the Finmen

An Unplanned Journey in Homage to the Kayak and its Inuit masters

Author: Norman Rogers
Publisher: Troubador Publishing (March 1, 2012)

In the early 1700s an Inuk paddling a traditional Greenland kayak landed, alone and exhausted, on a beach near Aberdeen and died three days later. His kayak and hunting gear can still be seen today in the local Anthropological Museum. The idea that a man could have made the journey from Greenland to the north-east coast of Scotland with a tiny boat made from skin, bone and driftwood is difficult to comprehend, but it did happen. Norman Rogers spent most of his spare time in the practical art of kayaking. However, when his passion for paddling small boats was interrupted by an unexplained illness, he set out to investigate the Aberdeen mystery and, as is often the case, one mystery led to another – he discovered that around the same time as the Inuk landed in Aberdeen, individuals in kayaks, described locally as “Finmen”, were seen around the coasts of the Orkney Islands. Searching for the Finmen describes Norman’s researches into the history and culture of the Inuit, with particular reference to their mastery of the sea by means of the kayak, and his attempts to understand and resolve his medical condition and to resume kayaking. It also describes other outside influences which were key factors in explaining how a group of Inuit hunters from what was effectively a stone-age culture crossed the North Atlantic only two centuries after Columbus.

Belhelvie kayak with paddle and hunting equipment (Museum of Anthropology, Marichal College, University of Aberdeen)

Read More: Inuits & Kayaks in Aberdeen