Skills

greenland paddling
Skills

5 reasons to go for a Greenland paddle

5 reasons to go for a Greenland paddle

Text by Kessu Siirak
Photo by Björn Nehrhoff

There is no side to choose between the Euro blade and the 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
KlausLarsen
History, Skills

Greenland rolling and competitions

KlausGLarsen

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

Greenland rolling and competitions

Text: qajaqusa.org, qajaqrolls.com, qattaarneq.com

Pictures: Klaus G. Larsen

History

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 qajaqusa.org

scoresheet1

Greenland Rollin Scoresheet2

WE WISH YOU GOOD TRAININGS!

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
Skills

VIDEO! Greenland paddler Paul Schröder

BIO

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 roll
Skills

5 basic Greenland rolls by Eiichi Ito

5 basic Greenland rolls by Eiichi Ito

The best animated greenland roll learning material for beginners. Here you find all upper and lower body movements for 3 basic greenland rolls and 2 scullings. Side sculling, standard roll, chest sculling, reverse sweep roll and storm roll. If you ask why? You´ll find some answers here.

  Eiichi Ito from Japan:
Hi there, I like the Greenlandic Qajaq culture. Especially, storm roll is my favorite. And I’ve been using “animation” as one of its best training methods. As the CG tool evolves, the content also has to grow. The circumstances will be noted on this blog. I’m glad if you can enjoy it. Thanks.


More info: www.storm-on.com