Greenland Renaissance Man Doug Van Doren

Van Doren helped spark the Greenland-style paddling revival.
Van Doren helped spark the Greenland-style paddling revival.

By Doug Van Doren, as told to Conor Mihell

"I have always paddled with a Greenland-style stick. The message I got when I began sea kayaking in 1990 was that Greenland- style paddles were meant for rolling—not for 'real' paddling. But all the original sea kayakers, from the Aleuts to the West Greenlanders, used narrow, unfeathered paddles and survived just fine.

"I thought, perhaps the issue wasn't that they didn't know what they were doing, but that we didn't know what they were doing. So I set out to spend as much time as possible experimenting to show the stick's capabilities in all conditions. I discovered that the combination of the low-volume, Greenland-style kayak and the narrow blade come together with great harmony. As an instructor, it's satisfying to share these timeless skills.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 2009 edition of Canoe & Kayak, as part of our feature The Innovators.

Canoe & Kayak Innovators: 14 Visionaries Who Changed Our Sport Forever
innovators-link-blockFun Brothers Jim and Jeff Snyder // Paddling Provocateur Corran Addison // The Prophet of Polyethylene // Warriors of the Self-bailing Revolution // Aluminum Canoe Guru Bill Hoffman // Sit-on-Top Visionary Tim Niemier // Open Boat Bomber Nolan Whitesell // Sea Kayak Savant Frank Goodman // The Bublik // Air Bag Revolutionary // The Royalex Miracle // Videographer Wayne Gentry