Forward stroking with the paddle held at a shallow angle to the water surface is one of the versatile properties of Inuit narrow blades. However, with European wide blades this style of paddling is more difficult because as the blade enters the water, pressure is at first unequal on each side and torsional forces are induced which require a firm grip to control so that the style is uncomfortable.

[ Cross-section comparison between European flat blade and narrow blade showing round and oval looms respectively. ] 


Being narrow, torsional forces on the Inuit blade are slight and easily controlled as the ends of the blade are held with the last three fingers in the normal style of stroking. In the sliding stroke style, the hand in the air grips the top and bottom edges of the blade thus easily controlling any twisting For this reason also, bracing and rolling strokes are easier to perform with a narrow blade.

Tendon strains; These differences mean that narrow blades can be used with a much looser grip on the paddle than European blades. In windy conditions this difference in performance becomes more pronounced and the extra grip required to control European blades coupled with the need to twist the feathered paddle are the two main reasons why wrist tendon strains (tinosynovitis) are experienced (Lamont 1988a).

- from: Sea Blades: Fashion or Function? (2001) © Peter Lamont, Isle of Luing, Scotland.


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