Greenland Paddle Length - shorter person

Submitted byDinty onFri, 06/22/2018 - 16:00

Building a paddle for my girlfriend as a gift - managed to measure her last night with only some confused comments :) - Based on the normal methods I get 76" (floor to raised hand) or 78" (Armspan + elbow) and a 17" loom (hand-hand).  

She's 5'3" and her boat is probably 21".  I'm thinking to go to 80" long and maybe a 20" loom.

Sound about right?  I've built a couple paddles for myself a while back, but this is the first time building one for someone else, and I'd like it to turn out nice.  She normally paddles a high-angle ero, but mentioned she was curious about the Greenland.


Etienne Muller

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 18:12

Lessons I learned from carving a GP for my wife, who is 5'1" and has small hands.

I built it more or less according to her vital statistics, and it worked out unusable.

length at 80 inches was fine.

loom at 19 inches was fine.

maximum blade width at 2+3/4 inches was too small.

NB... Main problem... Maximum blade thickness, at loom, at 1+1/4 inches, was too small.

things that did not work out.

because of her small hand size, I made the loom oval 1" X 1+1/4" it fitted her hands beautifully, but had a major drawback... No power.

The loom thickness dictates the blade thickness, and a thin blade equates to less power. I was surprised at just how much the power dropped off compared to my usual blade thickness of 1.5"

in addition, maximum blade width at the tip, also fitting her hand just right, sacrificed feel and lift.

If I were you....

Overall length 80". Not shorter, because modern boats have more freeboard than Greenland boats.

I would reduce the loom to 19" I would have shoulders (not too big) because they encourage someone who is new to GP to maintain the correct hand width and blade angle. This will encourage proper rotation and a low angle stroke.

width at tip 3" or an eighth more. Not les then 3"

loom oval... 1+5/8" X 1+1/8" if she has small hands. Not smaller, especially the wider measurement, which will dictate blade thickness.

further considerations...

On a small paddle, thin blade edges allow for more convex to the blade, especially near the ends, and this equates to more power.

Try to maintain the lenticular section along the blade from tip to loom. A thin narrow blade needs to be as perfect as possible to maximise efficiency, so deviations in the water flow need to be minimised. So no flat areas, and try not to get a diamond shape.

I built a paddle for a lady friend along the lines above, and it worked out very nice. Not as powerful as my own paddles, but then she is not displacing nearly as much water as I am with my lardass.

that is my tuppence worth.



I would do paddle shape  about what Etienne except I would do an 84 inch length and a 19 inch loom.  3 1/8 width. {if it doesn't have enough  power make the next one with the same overall size except have the sides run the same width for maybe 6 or 8 inches to the end , vary this for power without going wider}   If you get close on the loom length it will work {1/2 inch either way and they think it fits}  You will probably end up changing the loom length to 20,{because of the kayak width}  but by starting at 19 you will have the option. At 5'3" 84 should reach the water in a modern kayak that is 21 " wide and has a standard seat.

Best Wishes


Etienne Muller

Sat, 06/23/2018 - 02:39

I agree with Roy that you could go a little longer on the overall length. Just not shorter.

a narrower loom encourages torso rotation, so check her paddling style before widening the loom, and if she is not rotating, show her. People think they are rotating their torso, but sometimes need to be shown a video to prove to them that they are not really doing so as much as they think they are.

ideally, as soon as you have finished the paddle, you need to build her a low profile boat to go with it.


Has she tried your paddle? That would be my first step. See how she feels about yours and take some info from there. Whenever a women friend tried my GP, they never wished it was smaller in any way. I would not assume that a women needs a smaller one like cars. Do they buy small cars?

Keith Elliott

Sat, 06/23/2018 - 10:08

My wife is 5'0". I've found essentially the same thing. The boat she was using when I made her first was quite wide so I added 1.25" to the loom, and 82" overall. she's in a better boat now, and the latest paddle is 18" loom, but with a slightly longer shoulder. Blade tip is 3.25", which is larger than the Holst method but she still can palm it comfortably. She is able to overpower the paddle if desired, but rarely spins out, so it's a good size. When you get to the fringes of paddler size, a standard formula won't apply as well, since strength doesn't scale 1:1 with arm length and hand size. Boat length doesn't vary anywhere near as much as height and weight, too, so the paddle may have to work relatively harder to maneuver for a small paddler.

AH yes ...the grip area on a modern cut Greenland Paddle is about 5 or 6  inches from the tip.  {modern cut is a steady taper from the paddles shoulder to the tip , with the widest place on the paddle being at the tip}  So the size Kieth Elliott made would also work for width for small hands, if doing that cut.  5 or 6 inches from the tip of a 3.25 inch paddle will be about 3 1/8 th.  So that is another option depending on how you want the paddle to load.  Since this paddle is going to be a gift and I assume a surprise, Make it the same style as yours and opt for a size where it can be changed after she tries it. {shorter loom and longer blades, maybe slightly wider than suspected , but within a workable size}  {the sizing of a paddle is difficult without actually seeing how the person is actually built , long arms, big hands or overall petite.  Good Luck, I'm sure she will like anything you come up with especially if it's re-workable to her desires for how she wants it to handle.

Best Wishes


Thanks - good suggestions and what I figured that I should add some length from the book measurements.  19" loom seems like a good start and I think I'll lengthen it to 82" - 84".    I think it'll make a great bday gift (from someone who hates shopping)

> She normally paddles a high-angle Euro, but mentioned she was curious about the Greenland.

If she paddles like that with the Greenland the problem is she will have to sit around waiting for others to catch up. If you YouTube GPers in a hurry their stroke is as high or higher than an Olympic racer. So yes, I use a low stroke if paddling with other Euro paddlers. A high stroke when paddling alongside a yacht doing 5 knots.

I like a rectangular loom as my fingers, upper hand make a right-angle, second joint. The base of the fingers push against the loom, lower hand. The thumb, just to stop the paddle falling on the deck. The problem with that, as a friend found out when she went to a GP, she can't raise any blisters now.


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