I have since December 2014 paddled the earlier version of AKIAK who was a ofspring from the original OYASHIO paddle that you can read review about on www.gearlabpaddles.com.
Now I have received the new and enhanced model and the finished product of the new 2015 AKIAK GP and paddled it in different weather conditions and temperatures.
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the new paddle was how much sharper blades were made and how the transition from the loom was made much softer and more comfortable. The material I was familiar with from earlier models as the quality I was already very happy with. especially that GEARLAB uses wide carbon weaves for maximum strength. And as I mentioned in my earlier review where I wished the tips should be exchangeable also GEARLAB done. not only changeable but also in several colors that make it universal for paddlers who can actually choose what tip they want and are accustomed to.
Time to hit the wather, and actually feel the difference. The biggest difference I feel straight into the water is where the new sharp edge of the blade cuts through the water like a knife. This makes it much more aggressive in the strokes that give it more strength with less effort for the paddler. The stiffness of the paddle is very well balanced which gives it a fantastic progress both in speed and in paddle techniques. the Blade is around 9cm wide which for me is absolutely perfect for speed and high paddle strokes and bracing. It responds beautifully.
Because of sharper edge and slightly more aggressive design feel I might at the boyuancy effect is somewhat less than the previous model but the execution of the paddle in its entirety easily compensates for this. It should also be said that good bouyancy don't always have to be a good thing but for paddlers who to buy their first greenland paddle bouyoncy can be a good thing.
The AKIAK as a shoulderless paddle is a paddle for those who have paddled these type paddles before and want a paddle that is very playful and easy to handle especially at fast grip changes as in paddle length extension hum sculling, bracing and rolling. Benefits of shoulder model, you can read more about in the review of the new NUKILIK Shoulder paddle.
My conlusion: GEARLAB has really done well on this new AKIAK, and what I love about GEARLAB is that the people who develop those paddles actually are active paddlers them self and build paddles with personality and experience. The new AKIAK: More agressive, more power, and a whole lot of love in every stroke :-)
Check out the original review on KayaKid.