Wednesday July 15th 2015
To prepare for the Saskatoon races this weekend, we will review of some important aspects of racing, with a few mini-races to practice.
Review of starts:
Wednesday July 8th 2015
Refueling and Water pits
As the name implies, marathon canoe races can be long and that often requires taking on fluid and fuel during the race. Long distance paddlers get good at eating and drinking on the go, and find their favourite snacks and drinks to help them stay fueled and hydrated. Some typical brands used by SCC racers include Vega, Cliff, and Hammer. As with any racing strategy, it is a good idea to try out your race plan several times in advance to make sure your hose is long enough, your drink powder doesn’t give you a tummy ache, and you are carrying enough for the distance. Bring your water bottle and snacks with you on longer paddles so you have a chance to test them out.
At big, long races like the Marathon Au Sable or the Classique, paddlers need to replace their empty water bottles during the race. Typically this is done by a pit crew which brings full water bottles out to paddlers so they don’t have to stop. ‘Pits’ (changing bottles) can be done on land when paddlers are portaging, or on the water when the pit crew takes another canoe out to meet them.
This week we will practice dropping and replacing water bottles. This will help everyone see what water pits are like, and will also develop our steering, balance, and communication in the boat.
Please bring a waterbottle to practice (and tube if you have one)!!
Wednesday July 1st
In marathon canoe racing, paddlers are often required to make at least one buoy turn and typically buoy turns are challenging! The problem is that marathon boats are not designed to turn sharply - so those that master the buoy turn will help enable you to catch and pass other canoes and give your boat a distinct advantage.
During this session we will work on setting up a good line to the buoy, leaning the turn, going to sides, making a tight quick post turn, and keeping the boat speed up to accelerate out of the turn.
Wednesday June 24th 2015
There are two places to ride wash: the side and the stern.
Regarding right-of-way while racing: Riding on the side wash gives you more speed and/or a bit of a rest, but also presents some risk. The boat that is ahead has the right of way, even if it is only 1 inch ahead. When you are going upstream and following the shoreline, the boat on the shore side usually leads. If the boat on the shore side is not ahead, they are vulnerable to being ‘scraped off’ or driven into the shore, and are better off dropping to stern and riding there. Either boat may decide to do a sprint and try to drop the other boat. It is often better for the boat on the outside to ride a little higher so that they can respond to a sprint.
Bow paddlers: stay alert to the speed and cadence of the other boat, you will need to respond to their sprints as well as steer to stay on the wash.
Stern paddlers: communicate with your bow paddler about where you like to ride wash - how far up or back, and how close to the other boat. It may also help to let them know when you decide to go to stern or to sprint to get up beside them. This may lose you the element of surprise, but it is better than fighting your partner if you are working towards different goals.
Wednesday June 17th 2015
Marathon races are not usually won or lost in the first 100m, but it can be important to get in with the right pack for wash riding. Here are some tips:
Wed June 17th 2015
Now that the water levels have dropped, there are more shallow spots and sandbars to navigate on the river. When going downstream, you aim for the deepest, fastest water and avoid the slow sandbars. However, when going upstream the shallows near the bank is the best place to be. Shallow water adds more friction to the boat and can suck the boat down, BUT if you paddle quick, light, and fast, you can ‘pop’ the boat so that it lifts up and glides on the surface of the water.
In order to ‘pop’ the boat up, a different stroke is required: further up front, positive angle, and very quick. This feels like doing just the first half of the stroke, but the stroke rate comes up a lot. The up-front, positive angle helps make the boat lighter, and the quick strokes keep the boat moving along so it doesn’t have a chance to sink down between strokes. The last few weeks have been preparing for this, so go back and review: strong catch, light boat with positive paddle angle, and steering by leaning so you can keep the stroke rate up.
Bow paddlers: as you move up along the shoreline or sandbars, think about responding to shallow, sucky water with quicker, up-front strokes to pop the boat.
Stern paddlers: be sure to keep in time since it is hard to pop a rocky or bouncing boat.
Watch out for rocks!
Wed June 3rd 2015
Steering by Leaning
You can steer by changing sides, or with draw strokes and cross bow strokes. However, the most efficient way to steer the boat is to lean it and let it carve to one side or the other. This is especially useful when the water is shallow and you need to keep short fast strokes in order to keep moving - leaning will keep your forward momentum but still let you steer.
In order to do this well, both paddlers need to keep the boat loose so that it can lean gently and effectively. The leans work the opposite of a bike, so lean away from where you want to go. (i.e. to go right, lean left)
Wednesday May 27th 2015
Keep the stroke in front of you and paddle with a positive angle. This pushes down on the water and that pops the boat up (especially in the shallow conditions we have had lately!) Paddling behind you with a negative angle means you lift up water with your paddle. This is tiring, but also sucks the boat down and makes it heavier. Try these things to keep your boat lighter:
Wednesday August 26th 2014
This week, we are going to encourage the novice and rookie bow paddlers to paddle in the stern. Mentors will sit in the front today, help steer and give (encouraging!) feedback. Since the water is low and slow and the weather is still warm, this is a good time to give it a try.
Steering in marathon canoes is still all about speed: we switch sides to steer instead of using j-strokes and we lean the boat gently to make small corrections. Here are a few tips:
Wednesday August 20th 2014
All paddling is good paddling, but different kinds of boats need to be paddled in different ways. Recreational paddling often involves some j-strokes and steering strokes behind a paddler's hip. However, in marathon where the main goal is going fast and the boats are lighter, it pays to keep your strokes up front and minimize the drag of paddling behind you. Lighter, up-front strokes keep a light marathon boat moving, without being as muscular or tiring as deep strokes that pull way back.
Many of the marathon tips are similar to those we covered when we talked about keeping the boat light a few weeks back: