Gearlab Outdoors | Interview with the Kayaking Champion Maligiaq Padilla

This is an excellent example of how material culture and technology improves through “cultural appropriation”.  Taiwanese founder of Gearlab Chung-Shih collaborated with Maligiaq to produce carbon fiber Greenland paddles that are superior to the original. Check out the carbon fiber norsaq!

"National Kayaking champion Maligiaq Padilla came to Taiwan and met with Gearlab’s founder Chung-Shih. Before the meeting, Maligiaq heard that there’s a group of people who use Greenland paddle in such small island far from Greenland and that inspired him to find out more about it. During his visit, we got to know more about the history of Greenland paddling and the wisdom in it. Gearlab certainly extracts the best part and combines with modern technology. That is how our paddles are born, with humanity and technology."


Highlights from Kayak Academy’s Greenland Rolling Competition

Kayak Academy's Greenland Rolling Competition: Interview with Dubside from Baby Seal Films on Vimeo.

Dash Point Pirate TV caught up with Dubside for a brief interview in the middle of Kayak Academy’s Greenland Rolling Competition at Lake Sammamish on August 23, 2009. Dubside discussed the importance of maintaining tradition by learning the Greenlandic names of the rolls, given the explosive popularity of Greenland Style and its adoption by “mainstream” sea kayaking in the United States.

Dubside also outlined plans for a much bigger competition on Lake Sammamish, based on the National Greenland Kayaking Championship, that will include rope gymnastics, races, rolling, and harpoon throwing. No other country other than Greenland holds a serious traditional kayaking competition, so hopefully Kayak Academy will be able to pull off this very ambitious project. The challenge of traveling and shipping kayaks and gear to Greenland discourages a lot of highly skilled American kayakers from competing in the Greenland games. I’m betting that these people will be crawling out of the woodwork to attend an event like this. When it happens, remember that you read it here first!


Kayaking legend Maligiaq Padilla also judged the event. In addition to teaching skin−on−frame building classes he has been building kayak models during his stay in the Pacific Northwest. Tom Sharp displayed one during the event −− an exquisitely crafted frame carved from yellow cedar, based on Maligiaq’s own racing kayak. It takes Maligiaq about the same amount of time to make one of these models as it does to make a full-size frame. They will sell for just as much, probably even more. Expect to see this work of art featured at the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver, BC. 


Oh, by the way, I guess I should mention that I won the highly coveted Golden Harpoon Head with a score of 165! Competition was stiff, and I was very lucky Warren Williamson didn’t show up (he was busy surfing his Illusion at the tidal race at Skooks). I had practiced norsamik masikkut, kingup apummaatigut, and ikusaannarmik niaqoq/pukusuk patillugu all month, but when the time came I didn’t score with these at all. Having to wear a bulky PFD (for insurance purposes) really hurt me. I think it’s time to get one of those small inflatables! Many thanks to George Gronseth and Barb Sherrill of Kayak Academy, Dubside, Maligiaq, John, KayakGrrl and all the other volunteers who put together such great event!

Quest for the Golden Harpoon Head!


Kayak Academy's "Greenland Week: Instruction with the Masters" is going to wrap up this weekend. George Gronseth and Barb Sherrill have been hosting Dubside, Helen Wilson, and Maligiaq Padilla this week for classes in rolling and paddling technique. There may still be some time to sign up for a last minute class if you are interested. I understand that Maligiaq will be here for another couple weeks or so holding Greenland skin on frame kayak building classes at the Skin Boat School.

One event not to be missed is Greenland Week's final rolling competition on Lake Sammamish State Park, Tibbetts Beach, this Sunday August 23rd between 10 AM and 4 PM. Registration is at 10 AM and the fee is $10. The competition will be judged by Dubside and Maligiaq, and the first prize is one of Maligiaq's golden harpoon head medals! This is one of the actual medals they give away during the National Kayaking Championship in Greenland! These things are so sought-after in Greenland that once an athlete wins one, they never, ever take it off again! (of course, Maligiaq probably personally owns something like 70 of them). 

This competition is likely to draw some highly skilled rollers, so it'll be interesting to see who shows up. It will be fun just to show up and compete. Participants also get a commemorative t-shirt! Contact Kayak Academy for more information.

Now excuse me while I go out and practice my rolls!

PRESS RELEASE: Maligiaq will be in Pacific Northwest in April 2009

Granite Falls, WA, February 1, 2009 -- 7 Seas Video Productions and The Skin Boat School are excited to announce the April 2009 visit by Maligiaq Padilla, seven-time Greenland National Kayaking Champion. During April 2009. Maligiaq will be conducting a ‘Greenland Skin on Frame Qayaq Design and Construction’ seminar. Maligiaq will give 2 sessions on the principles and techniques he was taught in Greenland, in addition to the design characteristics he looks for in his training/competition qayaq.

Maligiaq and Corey Freedman (SkinBoat School) will conduct classes together to prepare for the filming of the classes planned for August 2009. Tom Sharp ( 7 Seas Video Productions), will create a 2-hour documentary of the August building classes for DVD distribution and broadcast release of the video documentary series, "Greenland Qayaq Construction, with Maligiaq."

Maligiaq came to the USA in 1998 (with John Heath) as a Ambassador of Greenland Qayaqing and has become the most influential person in the Greenland Qayaq Community worldwide. Maligiaq won the Greenland National Kayaking Championship in 1998 at the age of 16. In addition, Maligiaq has won 7 of the last 10 Championships. In 2005, he was involved in the Arctic Peoples' Symposium at the Smithsonian in Washington DC where he built a Greenland Qayaq that is now in the Smithsonian's Collection.

Maligiaq has been traveling and teaching around the world for the past 10 years and returned to the USA in the summer of 2008. We are very fortunate to him for 30 days in April and in August for build classes, filming the Qayaq building sessions, and the Rolling and Stokes technique sessions in August through George Gronseth and the Kayak Academy in Issaquah, WA. (

For more information on Building Classes see April enrollment for the class starting on April 17th or the classes in August (documentary filming sessions) are now open. Build sessions will be held about 8 miles east of the Arlington, WA, exit off I-5 near Silvana WA. Heated indoor workshop space for icky weather and lovely outdoor space across the driveway at the shop for nice weather. (Directions and specifics available with enrollment.) Building Classes are $1700.00, all materials and tools supplied, plus lunch during class, (Deli/Pizza).

August Dates are available for Rolling, Strokes and Ropes Techniques through

Class sessions and personal appearance events are in the works, so stay tuned. This is a great opportunity to have fun and learn with a Qayaqman from Greenland.


Tom Sharp , President, 7 Seas Video

Email: [email protected]

Maligiaq and the Meat-Based Diet



When I took lessons at George Gronseth’s Kayak Academy a few years ago I noticed a moldering white Hypalon-coated skin−on−frame Greenland kayak in his storage shed, and the rotting skeletal remains of an old baidarka. George regularly offers classes on Greenland paddle making and has the distinction of being the first outsider ever to train at a kayak training camp in Greenland in 1990. The year before, he had met Greenland kayaking champion John Peterson and kayak historian John Heath in a traditional kayaking event in Kodiak, Alaska. The invitation to travel to Greenland grew out of that event. 

George has some great slides of his Greenland trip, including some rare color pictures of actual seal skin kayaks. He says that it was a challenge to try to find a kayak in Greenland that would fit him. Eventually he was able to squeeze into the roomiest kayak I think by rubbing himself with seal fat and having one person pull up on the coaming of the kayak and another person lift the bow, which loosens the skin on the deck. Of course then there was the question of being able to get out. 

By the way, the water they were training in was about 32 degrees and frequently littered with icebergs. 

George tells a great story about how he was designated the chef for the end−of−training-camp barbeque, since he was the only one with barbeque experience. He set up an apparatus to roast a pig on a spit, rotating it around a scrap metal pole (found in an abandoned building on the site) and rocks to reflect the heat around the fire pit. He stuffed the inside of the pig with apples, and baked potatoes in the coals. He couldn't help being a little worried about how it would turn out, but the flesh was completely cooked and tender inside and the meal was a big success.

While on the subject of meat, I found it interesting that Maligiaq says it’s a big part of his diet; seal, whale, beef, pork −− all kinds. If you are looking for the secret to his athletic prowess maybe that's it. George says that seal meat contains vitamins that are not found in beef, namely vitamin C. That’s how the Inuit have been able to survive while eating a diet consisting entirely of meat. These days fresh fruits and vegetables have to be shipped in from Denmark. Well, maybe global warming will change all that.
So I'm guessing it's probably impossible to be a vegan in Greenland.  You have to wonder if for genetic reasons Inuits an Inuk wouldn't simply just up and die on a vegan diet.


Harpoon Throwing With Maligiaq!

Harpoon Throwing With Maligiaq! from Baby Seal Films on Vimeo.

I'm officially announcing the Dash Point Pirate TV Channel.   For the big kickoff I'm releasing a new video, Harpoon Throwing With Maligiaq!  Look for me in there: I'm the guy in the Smurf outfit near the end.

Chris Cunningham made the harpoon, by the way.  His impressive collection of hunting implements was on display for the event.


Maligiaq’s Sealskin Tuilik



I finally met famed Greenland National Kayaking Champion Maligiaq Padilla! He’s really a nice guy. In the days before he arrived there was some concern over whether we could communicate with him and someone initiated a search for a Danish interpreter but he actually speaks English pretty well.

Years ago when I was first learning Greenland Style I ordered the videotape Rolling With Maligiaq and watched it over and over. At the time the video was made, Maligiaq had won the 1988 Greenland National Kayaking Championship. At age 16 he was the youngest kayaker ever to win that honor.  Kayak historian John Heath had brought him to the United States and they traveled together speaking and giving rolling and rope gymnastics demonstrations at a number of small kayaking events all over the country including the Pacific Northwest. In the video he performs the competition rolls with incredible grace using one of Harvey Golden’s Greenland kayak replicas. Rolling with Maligiaq was the definitive Greenland rolling video up until Dubside’s DVD came out. Although it wasn’t an instructional video, for many self−taught fans of Greenland style like myself it was one of the few sources of instruction available at the time outside of kayak symposiums. The movie is a classic and I recommend it to anyone interested in Greenland Style.

When I first met Maligiaq and told him how inspired I was by John Heath’s video he laughed and said he didn’t really like that video. It guess it didn’t turn out to be what he had expected.

Maligiaq then brought his sealskin tuilik and laid it out on the grass. The craftsmanship is impressive. The seams are sewn with a fine waterproof stitch that doesn’t leave holes in the skin. A woman in his town had sewn it. It is frozen for storage. For use it needs to be soaked in water for a while then rubbed with oil to soften it. He says that it is quite comfortable and completely waterproof when the wrists and face are cinched up tight.  It is possible to wear sweaters underneath it, although some people will wear a dry suit. Maligiaq wore a Brooks neoprene tuilik for the Kayak Academy event, which I think was officially called, Greenland Instruction with the Masters. When it is made from neoprene the Greenlanders have a different name for it, that sounds something like “tuiliosaq”.


Rolling With Maligiaq: Greenland Kayaking Technique (1999).

Dubside and Maligiaq

Dubside and maligiaq

I spent all day yesterday with Dubside, Maligiaq and George Gronseth of Kayak Academy doing the Greenland Style Kayaking thing.  It was a good review of paddle strokes, and I learned quiet a few things too!  Maligiaq and Dubside worked with me on my forward finishing rolls.  The key is a really powerful "hipsnap" (more later).  Right now I need to lie down and watch a movie because I'm so sore!