During last Sunday's swim support I struck up a conversation with one of the guys on a Fire and Rescue Boat, or rather, he struck up a conversation with me. He asked, "Why are you paddling with that board?"
I tried explaining to him it wasn't just a board. "Sure, it began as a board," I said, "but now it was a Greenland paddle." He just stared at me and replied, "But it's a stick."
"Yes, we call them sticks also," I said. "But this paddle design originated in Greenland and the Inuit have been refining it's design for hundreds of years. The Euro style paddles that the others out here are using are rather recent designs. While they have advantages of having more power at speed, the Greenland also has it's own advantages. One is in the ability to maneuver the kayak in difficult conditions and in rolling."
"But it's a stick. How can it be as good as those wide blade paddles?"
"Well," I explained, "it actually has about the same surface area as those plastic paddles have, it's just distributed differently. Instead of taking a grasp on the water immediately, it grabs more slowly as the paddle dives deeper and deeper into the water. And I can control how much face is in the water by the angle I use the paddle. Moreover, because of the design, I can get quite a bit of leverage by holding it like this", I said, grasping the paddle for a sweep roll. "And it doesn't grab as much air in windy conditions as do those wide blades."
"But it's thin, and it's just a piece of wood," the fireman said.
"Yes," I said, "but it's been refined over hundreds of years use. And it has worked in a variety of harsh conditions for the Inuit. It's the ideal all-around paddle."
To which the fireman replied, "Ah, so you paddle with it because you're a history buff."
Exasperated, I nodded and replied, "Yes. I guess I am."