Wednesday June 22nd 2016
Shallows are difficult to navigate. The boat tends to bog down and the waves get harder to ride. If you understand how to make the best of shallows, you can use them to pass boats and make up a lot of time in a race.
Concentrate on a good stroke in shallows. The first third of your stroke is most important.
Try to anticipate shallow sections. Get your boat speed up so you can “pop” the boat: this means surfing your own wave, and if you manage it you will travel far more quickly. You’ll feel when this happens: your stern will rise up and your speed will instantly increase. Suddenly it will feel much easier to paddle. Popping the boat is easiest when the water depth is minimal – if it’s more than two feet it’s called “sucky water” because the boat feels bogged down and is difficult or impossible to pop.
When a wave moves from deep water to shallow water, it does two things: it travels more slowly, and the wavelength gets shorter. This results in steeper waves that are closer together, which changes where and how you ride wash.
If you are riding side wash, you may find the right place to ride is farther back on the wave. It can be difficult to stay here due to the shorter steeper wave and often you get shunted away from the lead boat and slide down the wave. That’s why everyone sprints before a shallows section – the easiest place to be is out front.