I think that neither the ancient Aleutian islanders nor the Greenlanders had a strong theoretical knowledge of fluid mechanics or access to nice laminar flow test tanks.
They had sticks and carving tools.
And plenty of free time on winter nights.
So they made paddles and tried them.
Eventually they both got to “hey that feels pretty good", and the respective culture's standard paddle was set.
Full Size Sail Rig
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