16 August 2011

VIDEO: Surfing with Northern Light GP

After a few weeks of initial testing in calm waters, I finally had the opportunity to take the Northern Light Greenland paddle sea kayak surfing. I have been very impressed with my first trial with the paddle, and following a weekend camping trip I was eager to see if the Northern Light three piece Greenland paddle would be a good paddle for dynamic water.
Adventuretess, Stevatron and I wanted to see how that paddle compared to the traditional paddles we usually take for surfing.
We took along the Northern Light, the Black Stick (by Greg Schwarz) and the laminated Aleut WRC by Vanstix.

The Vanstix Aleut paddle is a solid performer when short bursts and powerful strokes are needed. I am used to it, while Stevatron found the loom a bit thick for his liking. Adventuretess didn’t use the Aleut that day.
Stevatron usually paddles with a Mitchell GP where the loom is small in diameter compared to a typical traditional paddle, not unlike the shaft of a Euro paddle.
He initially felt that the loom on the NLP was a tad chunky, and concerned with its comfort due to the pronounced squareness of the loom. However, after an hour of surfing his initial impression changed, comfort no longer a concern, and he thought that the paddle gave him a very positive and solid feeling. He thought that surfing with the NLP was great and the paddle gave him enough bite to catch even small waves. He was not keen to give up the paddle and hand it back to me for my trial.

I felt immediately at ease with the NLP.
I was now used to the loom’s oval shape and I was just concentrating on catching small waves that didn’t have much power in them requiring furious stokes to catch. These are the types of waves which require a very fast cadence and lots of continuous stress on a paddle! Then I moved on to bigger waves for nice long runs.
Before I acquired the Northern Light paddle, I have been using the Black Stick as my main GP and I was apprehensive that my “taste” was spoiled by such a perfect example. The paddles are different. But it is difficult for me to say that one is any better than the other.
The Northern Light seems to have just a little bit more surface area and perhaps made catching waves a fraction easier but it’s hard to quantify such perception…
I noticed that I could be a bit lazier with my technique to get full power out that blade. Again I think that those small longitudinal inverted ridges reduce the need for a perfect canted stroke to have maximum benefit and avoid flutter. The NLP under power feels just as good as the Aleut and the Black Stick. It is close enough that it would be very difficult to say that one paddle would be any better than the other in conditions.

Powering on the paddle felt solid and I certainly I didn’t feel any alarming flex that some thinly laminated commercial GPs have.
I didn’t have to hold back with this carbon paddle!
High braces when broached felt supported. The advantage to me of a Greenland paddle in the surf is that I don’t get my arm forced into a hyper extended position in a possible dislocation move. In the surf, where my arms just seem to get ripped away from my body when hit by the full force of the wave, I believe that a GP can be safer creating less of a damaging uplifting force. In my opinion the GP is gentler on my body compared to a Euro.

The NLP got it’s “baptism by fire” and the 3 piece joints held up very well. I feel no wobble in the paddle. From what I have seen, not all Greenland paddles can be used for surfing. The NLP certainly can. Only a long test will determine if the paddle will survive a season of trashing. Hopefully I will be able to report that this paddle is really bombproof.
Since my initial review on Northern Light and my enthusiasm for this 3 piece Greenland paddle, Paul contacted me and asked if I would like to be an “Ambassador” for Northern Light Paddles. When asked what this means exactly Paul responded and I quote:

“I would like to have someone in Australia with no commercial interests with a couple of my paddles. Use the paddles as you would any other paddle. Give me honest and detailed feedback. Make them reasonably available to anyone who may be interested in trying one out. I do not and would never expect you to alter your opinion of the paddle to anyone who asks. Does this sound like something you could live with?”

Someone wants to give me a couple of paddles and does not mind if I trash them (and in fact encourages it: treat them like "rentals"), and wants me to let others use them if they wish. In return he asks for nothing more than an honest opinion about the quality and strength and wants to list me as someone who has the paddles in Australia if someone in the area wants to try one out? Yes I think I can do that :-)
Anyone wanting to try one out can contact me and arrange a test paddle. 

In the future I will report on my findings on the Northern Light Aleut.



  1. Looking good Gnarly! And also looking forward to the review of the Aleut NLP. Tell me, what beach was the video filmed at?

  2. At a beach of sunny Queensland :-)
    I can take you there next time you come to visit


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