24 May 2010
The latest creation from Greg Schwarz: a high density laminated balsa core with carbon skin Greenland paddle.
If his previous hollow core paddles were art this one is pure magic.
This is a one-off (not a production paddle) since it takes an insane amount of time to manufacture.
The Black Stick is a paddle like no other I have tried.
The surface is extremely smooth but not totally mirror shiny.
Greg finished the paddle with a coat of boiled linseed oil to give it a bit of grip.
I found the paddle to have no slip with my gloves on while others said that it felt less grippy than a non-shiny timber GP.
The shoulders of the paddle have a rather soft transition from the loom and sliding the hand to the blade is noticeable but not "notchy".
Surprisingly the paddle displays relative good flex considering it is skinned with carbon fiber.
Other carbon GPs I have tried were more rigid and a hollow carbon one was particularly stiff and noisy.
Paddling with the Black Stick had a similar feel of solid timber.
This paddle is slightly different in shape to Greg Schwarz's timber hollow core one: a slightly more pronounced ridge makes just a bit more diamond shaped.
I believe that it offers a more neutral feel and less canting is needed to avoid flutter.
It gave me a very reassuring feedback and compared to Greg's timber ones it was easier to use, considering my rather limited time since I have swapped from Euro style paddles to GP.
I thought it required a bit more precise technique than my Aleut paddles (which have a strong dihedral ridge) but less than a flatter faced GP. A beginner would probably find this paddle easier to use.
Rolling with this paddle is outstanding.
It offers ample buoyancy and the blades, having a rather fine edge, allowed for superb sculling.
It is butter smooth through the water offering very good lift.
The Black Stick made my limited sculling skills look so much better than when I use an Aleut paddle :-)
However it still does not offer the raw power of the Aleut.
Vanstix have more surface area than the GPs I own and consequently will still probably be my choice for confused waters or surf play.
Interestingly enough most paddlers transitioning from Euro paddles seem to prefer the Aleut ones (myself included).
Once the paddlers become accustomed to the new paddling style, Greenland paddles seem to be easier to use than earlier on.
Just like kayaks: each one has its own strength and best suited for a particular situation/style.
The Black Stick complements my fast expanding quiver of traditional paddles and possibly might become my favorite all rounder.