Monthly Archives: December 2014

Basingstoke Hare and Hounds – December 2014

I paddled my C1 in the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club hare and hounds time trial on Saturday 21st December. This event occurs every third Saturday during the off-season and is a good opportunity to measure performance.

The weather was dry, a light breeze and about eight degrees. I completed the six mile course last time in 1 hour 2 minutes and 36 seconds. This time I took 1 hour 3 minutes and 36 seconds, where did I lose those 60 seconds?

This time I used a slightly lower seat, maybe that was it, or perhaps one can’t expect constant improvement.

The idea behind the hare and hound race concept, is that the slower paddlers start in front of the quicker ones, and the start times are calculated to get the whole race to finish at the same time. The start times are based on past performance. So I am always disappointed to see so much wash hanging in a time trial. It’s supposed to be an individual effort, not how good you are at sitting a fast K2 wash.

Liz paddled K1 and started of a few minutes behind me. She caught and passed me on the return leg but had some time to observe my paddling style. As she went by, she commented that I was just pushing water backwards when my paddle had passed my hips.

As Liz also paddles a canoe, I respect her opinion and it’s got me thinking on how I could move the boat forward more efficiently.

I am not a fan of the traditional sit&switch paddling style favoured by the American Pro-boat paddlers. The cadence is too high and the stroke too short for my liking. Paddlers also try to keep the paddle perpendicular to the water which means the top arm is right across the body.

So I tend to paddle in a similar style to how I paddle a kayak. I use the full body rotation and sweep the blade out from the boat towards the end of the stroke. I think this is a far better use of a greater muscle set. Unfortunatley most of the paddles available on the market are not optimised for my style.

I think I’ll look at developing a different type of paddle.

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Banbury Canoe Club – Ross Warland marathon 2014

I’ve been planning to do this race for a couple of years, but have been put off by the weather and the lack of available bank support.

This year however, I’m much fitter and the weather for November 30th was incredible. Clear blue skies, 10 degrees and a light wind.

So, twenty miles, (ten miles there and back) and twelve portages, a proper marathon.

Once again I was destined to wear a buoyancy aid because I’m a Div 7 canoe paddler. As I’m also a Div 6 kayak paddler, I could have got away with it. The Hasler rankings are based on performance, not capability or experience so it is the wrong application of the rule. Anyway…….

I was about 10th in line at the start and soon got into a rhythm. Just after a mile was the first portage and I overtook two K1s and a K2 on the run. With an eight kilogram boat and an easy-access cockpit, it set the tone for the race.

I had nice clear water all the way to the turn, but that certainly changed when I met the other paddlers coming towards me. The chop from the vertical sides of the canal was quite rough, and even worse under the motorway bridges which hindered my progress as I coped with the wash.

I made the turn at one hour fifty minutes, so ten minutes up on my target time of four hours. The head wind on the return leg, plus the water turbulence and a few narrow boats which got in the way, all took their toll and I finished at three hours forty six minutes and 45 seconds, 28th out of 40 boats, of which 38 were kayaks.

Banbury Canoe Club produced an excellent set of results, including split times. I now know that I averaged 5.58 mph on the outward leg, and 5.1 mph on the return. The times show that everyone was affected by the return conditions.

The only other full distance C1 was a high kneeler paddled by Team GB, Div 4 K1 and Div 5 C1 athlete Roger Weir. As a member of Banbury canoe club, he must know the course well, but he only beat me by 17 minutes 49 seconds over the 20 miles course, so not bad.

I was annoyed that fast boats coming up behind rarely let you know which side they were passing. It is so much better if they simply call out as they approach, and I can move over. So, please take heed, just shout and I’ll shift.

The Double Darkness – design progress

Whilst I was enjoying myself at the Banbury Canoe club Ross Warland race this weekend, Neal was hard at work on the C2 design.

He has increased the freeboard, so the boat should float 40 mm higher (to the chine line) under maximum load (195 kg) than The Darkness, and 55 mm higher with a lighter load of 155 kg (juniors, size zero models and racing snakes!).

We also added more volume to the rear of the boat following advice from “a well-known canoe builder and retailer”! This also allows the longitudinal centre of gravity and buoyancy to coincide to reach equilibrium, relative to the position of the paddlers. (This sounds like I know what I’m talking about, but I simply repeated Neal’s words!)

We’re raising the gunwale an additional 20 mm to reduce the risk of swamping when cutting through large waves such as motor boat washes. This will also support a full spray deck in anticipation of the Tideway.

CAD imagery

CAD imagery


The illustration above shows the side view and half the plan view, where you can just make out the cockpit opening in purple. It also shows half a cross section, demonstrating the forgiving (and stable) curvature of the hull (I hope!).

There is even a small amount of rocker towards the bow to help with manoeuvring such a long vessel.

You can see that the paddlers are closer together than a conventional C2, plus they are not right at each end of the boat. We may have to adopt a modified paddling stroke, more towards a kayak style in the same way that I do for The Darkness.

This is getting more exciting than waiting for Christmas!