Well, you could tell that the local ski hills are opening because our numbers were DOWN this week as a number of the surfski training group decided to hang out on frozen H2O instead of liquid. For those of us who made it, this week was all about race starts.

As I seem to say most weeks, this was all new to me. Most of the race starts I’ve completed at TNR have been some semblance of just going as hard as I can whilst staying in the boat. Turns out that’s not too bad of a tactic, although of course there has to be some kind of theory behind it 🙂 Both Wes and Shane tend to favour between 3-5 initial power strokes where technique doesn’t really come into play before transitioning to an over stroke to get your boat up to speed, and only around 7-10 of those. If my math is correct, after about 10-13 paddle strokes, your boat should be up to race speed and your focus is on finding a wash to ride.

Practicing starts in Deep Cove

To practice these things, Wes had us line up by the dock, and gave us responsibility for lining ourselves up. Apparently that is easier said than done…or at least for some people! Just kidding, although I have a newfound respect for Karly as she attempt to keep 100 of us in order on race nights.

We practiced doing both full starts and just the initial power strokes and it was interesting for me to have conscious thought about where proper technique should really be kicking in, and then actually thinking about it and applying it. It was also fairly humbling to see HOW far Shane can get on the same amount of paddle strokes as me…something you can clearly see in this great video!

Practicing race starts in Deep Cove! from Deep Cove Kayak on Vimeo.

Following the practice on starts, Wes sent us around Jug Island as a time trial we could compare against previous TNR times which you can check against the second 2016 times here. I haven’t done a Jug time trial in a surfski before so for me this is going to be my benchmark. We were paddling against a headwind on the way out too, or so I will maintain if challenged 🙂 Times were as follows:

  • Shane M – 25.06
  • Martin R – 25.52
  • Richard A-S -26.57
  • Rene C – 27.26
  • Sean H – 27.47
  • Paul H – 28.32
  • Eric B – 29.18
  • Amy H – 31.05

AND apparently, Coach Wes says that colder water usually creates slower paddling times – that should bode well for future comparisons 🙂 And now for this week’s Ask Coach section…

  1. What difference does the size of your paddle blade make?
  1. Unless you are concentrating on just 1000m sprint races or less, a smaller paddle blade is best for mid to long distance races, like the flat water races in Deep Cove. The bigger the blade the higher amount of power it takes to pull it through the water, and the quicker you will fatigue paddling.
  1. Should I move my hands apart on the paddle to get more power at the start?
  1. No. Keep your hands at neutral position otherwise you will lose power when you then try and slide them back to neutral after you’ve completed your power strokes. It’s best to get into your racing form as soon as you can.

Thanks to Wes for the video and photos from this week – only one week left!