Ottawa-Gatineau Qajaq Union
No really, it's a paddle. Perhaps it's not necessarily your first choice for whitewater, it's more than capable for touring and especially rolling.
Welcome to OGQU, the Ottawa-Gatineau Qajaq Union. It's a group of
like-minded paddlers interested in Inuit paddling, Greenland rolling,
paddle making, skin-on-frame boat building, etc.
Inuit of Greenland, North America and Siberia used kayaks for a wide variety of hunting and transportation needs. Consequently there are many different kayak designs and paddling techniques. Probably our most common impression of Inuit kayaking technique is that of the West Greenland Inuit. Greenland Inuit evolved a sleek, high-performance kayak for hunting of marine mammals. To survive the perils of weather and hunting they developed an array of rolling and boat control techniques.
Today kayaking is a vibrant sport in Greenland and continues to play a role in the hunting. There is a Greenland Kayaking Club (Qaannat Kattuffiat) and affiliate clubs exist in Denmark, the USA and Japan (site1, site2).
Each year there is an official Greenland Kayaking Championship that consists of a number of events including rolling, racing, harpoon throwing and rope gymnastics. In the rolling events participants complete 30 manoeuveres involving rolling with a paddle, norsaq and hands. These are all documented at the QajaqUSA website on the Rolling Maneuvers page.
Greenland-style paddling is very joint friendly. It allows you to keep a steady paddling cadence for longer periods of time due in part to the fact that you're pulling less water per stroke and the gentle flex of the paddle as you propel the kayak forward.
The traditional Greenland kayak is a skin-on-frame boat, the skin being seal skin. Usually five to six skins would be needed to cover the frame. These days, the skin is usually ballistic nylon, polyester or PVC clad fabric. Cotton duck can also be used although it's not as durable.
In the photo above, you can see the tuliq, the traditional garb worn by Greenlanders. It's an integrated hood, paddling jacket and sprayskirt. It vaguely resembles a maternity dress on steroids. Originally made from seal skin, it can be found constructed from neoprene, G-tex, etal. these days. It provides you with the required mobility, watertightness and warmth required when rolling.
Hope to see you on the water.
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