Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aleut Paddle Orientation, Again

I had previously seen this photo of Unangan (Aleut) paddlers in George Dyson's book, Baidarka.  But most recently for the first time, I saw a high resolution version of this photo on David Zimmerly's web site.  And sure enough, the two paddlers whose paddles are showing both are paddling ridged side of the paddle forward.
Same with this group.  They are also both paddling ridge forward.  You can't see the ridge on the back paddle but you can see the elevated part of the loom facing forward.
So, is there a right way and a wrong way to hold an Aleut paddle?  The answer is still no I think, but perhaps we can say that for a cruising stroke, ridge forward and flat side back was the most common orientation. When I paddle with an Aleut paddle, I sometimes switch back and forth between the two orientations because they stress different sets of muscles and I can give one set a rest by switching.

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