Do not want to be an embarsement at canoe race.

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Just filled out the entry forms for my first canoe race since 1984. Will be using a Bell Northstar with bent shafts on a ten mile course. Have done this trip in three hours in a Mohawk Solo 14. Will be in the recreational class. The only other class for canoe is unlimited for racing canoes with racing hulls.

Will be doing the following.

Dry bag with sand in the bow for trim.

Since it is still hot in September and you MUST wear PFD Ice packs for inside PFD

Not pushing for speed at the start of the race.


Any other hints or ideas?
 
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Canoe races are great, I miss doing them. I might try getting back into it. This is on a river I assume? I couldn't tell if you were racing the Northstar tandem or solo. Solo could be a bit rough, especially if there's any wind. It would be a good tandem in the rec class. Will you be paddling hit and switch? It's the only way to go in a race. High cadence and short strokes. 60 strokes/minute is a good target to aim for. Do you have a foot brace for the stern paddler?

I well remember my first real canoe/kayak race about 6 years ago. I had a pretty quick sea kayak (QCC 600x) at the time and thought I was a strong paddler. Entered a race in Minneapolis that was strictly for solos, a quick 3 mile sprint. I had high hopes of a very high finish, if not a win. I was expecting a lot of people like me to show up with sea kayaks and was a bit dismayed when 20' surf skis started rolling in on trailers. I didn't even know what they were at the time, all I knew was that they would be a lot faster than me. No one but me brought a sea kayak. But most of the paddlers showed up in canoes so at least I'd be able to beat them, or so I thought.

We all lined up at the starting line, the gun went off, and the next thing I knew we're only a couple hundred yards into the race, I felt like my lungs were going to explode, and those damned canoes kept pulling away from me! I decided to play it smart, back off the gas a little, and let them wear themselves out while I conserved my energy and charged past them on the last lap. I ended up finishing second to last.

That day I learned a very valuable lesson in canoe and kayak racing. If you want to be in the lead pack you better jump in right off the line and stay there, because if you let them get ahead you'll never see them again. That being said the only times I was ever in the lead pack was when I was paddling a much faster boat than everyone else. Even when I was in a racing kayak that was over 20' long and 18" wide I couldn't beat a good tandem team in a 3x27 proboat.

Even then it was always fun. Canoe racers are a great group of people and no matter what you're paddling there's almost always someone else in the race that will give you some good competition.

Have a great time and good luck!

Alan
 
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Any other hints or ideas?

Do you have a plan for hydration? I personally do not like hydration bags with a sip tube but for racing they have their place. If you are bringing a simple water bottle have some means of keeping it easily at hand and not inadvertently rolling around behind you out of reach.

If (let’s say when) you begin to catch up to someone expect it to take a long time. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a mile to or two to reel someone in when you are gaining on a canoe only 100 yards ahead of you.

The camaraderie when racing and especially post race is special. Enjoy.
 
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I like Alan's post. It is obvious that racing can be very humbling, especially with people that have grown up in canoe country.

It reminds me of the old story about Verlen Kruger and Clint Wadell on their trans-Canadian trip years ago in their homemade 20 foot stripper. They planned to stop in Flin Flan, Manitoba for the big canoe races after they had been on the water for a couple of months. They had a lot of confidence having paddled evey day up to 100 miles in 24 hours. They got completely smoked by some First Nations people that spent their whole lives with a paddle in their hands. That is only problem with canoe racing, it brings out the people that are really good.
 
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Race Tales

We raced the Wye Island race (12.5 mile tidal circumnavigation of an island in the bay) for 10 years or so. We didn’t expect to win, and we usually raced it in odd boats.

We actually placed first several times, but only because we were in some class that had only one or two entries.

We raced a Clipper Mariner several times as an 8 person canoe:
http://www.clippercanoes.com/mariner/

That was usually a first place since we were the only 8-person canoe entered, and certainly the only 8-person canoe paddled by a mix of men, women, children and the elderly*.

*I had mis-stated the age of one of our female paddlers the first year and heard about it from her. The next race I added 10 years to her age, and added another 10 each subsequent year until she was racing in her 70’s.

My son and I won in a 1971 Old Town Sockeye because the only two other tandem kayaks capsized in a boat wake. My niece and her roommate won in the Sockeye as the only female tandem kayak team.

The last time we “raced” Wye was the best. Four of us ran the race backwards, which caused some consternation at the starting line. We paddled a few miles around the island to a nice sandy beach and set up.

What we set up was a table with food, a couple of coolers with cold beer and three signs, Burma Shave style. The signs read “FREE” “RACE” and “BEER”.

That race is open to any type of human powered craft and the first boat to round the corner was an 8-man shell of college boys. They had seen “FREE” and “RACE” with no problem, but when they saw “BEER” a couple of them mistimed their next stroke and there was a clattering or oars, some vivid language from the cox and debate about continuing.

Since they were winning they stroked on, but several boats did stop, including a gentleman in a solo canoe. He lingered with us until every other racer had passed and helped us break down the beer stand and we paddled back to the launch together.

This race attracts a large crowd, usually something like 500 or 600 cars parks in a field. By the time we got back the only vehicles remaining were ours, his and one race official’s car.

The race official had stayed around, not to scold us, but to give our new friend his “First Place Master 50’s Solo Canoe award. He had been the only entry in his class.

BTW – We were already famous, or infamous, in that race and photos of the war Canoe and other odd-duck boats made the race program for several years. We didn’t race Wye the following year but I heard that a photo of the FREE RACE BEER signs made the program.
 
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I have found the key to racing for me is good drafts, and I mean that in two contexts.

First, drafting behind a fast boat (i.e. paddling only a couple feet behind the boat and taking advantage of their slipstream) can allow you to paddle at the same speed as they do with far less effort, since they are pushing still water (and encountering more resistance on their hull) while you are taking advantage of a slight current behind them that is filling in the void left by their passing hull. Don't be surprised of other boats do the same thing behind you. Like bikes, good race etiquette, especially in a lead group, trade off the lead so everyone gets some advantage, but I would say in the last mile or two of a ten mile race cortesy gets thrown overboard and it is time to haul butt (boat?).

Second, the promise of a good draft or craft beer as a reward for the punishment of a race is a good incentive, at least for me.

-rs
 
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I have found the key to racing for me is good drafts, and I mean that in two contexts.

Second, the promise of a good draft or craft beer as a reward for the punishment of a race is a good incentive, at least for me.

Strider, we needed a bowman in the War Canoe one year, and bow and stern is a lot of work in that big boat. None of us in the midships propulsion seats were willing to switch seats and work that hard so we recruited a strong, competent friend to paddle bow.

We enticed him with the plan that we would stop at some nice sandy beach half way around for a beer and pee break.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. At the half way point, where a fine sandy beach beckoned, we were doing very well race-wise and despite his looks of longing kept going. And going, and going and going.

There aren’t that many sandy beaches along the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] half of the course and he was becoming more strident in his “How about THAT one” cries. We were smoking the competition and kept going until the finish line was in sight and there was no reason to stop paddling.

I think you know some of that crew; Topher was always our stern man, and the bowman that trip was Chip W, who poles a Tripper.
 
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I have found the key to racing for me is good drafts, and I mean that in two contexts.

First, drafting behind a fast boat (i.e. paddling only a couple feet behind the boat and taking advantage of their slipstream) can allow you to paddle at the same speed as they do with far less effort, since they are pushing still water (and encountering more resistance on their hull) while you are taking advantage of a slight current behind them that is filling in the void left by their passing hull. Don't be surprised of other boats do the same thing behind you.

-rs

Indeed. Never let a good wake pass you by! Every time you get passed by a faster boat drop on their wake and ride it as long as you can. Sometimes you can only hang with them for 30 seconds but it's worth it.

There are usually 3 wakes behind the canoe worth riding. The farther back you get (the 3rd one) the smaller it is and the less help it will be. The first one, closest to the stern, will be the biggest wake and give you the biggest boost. The bigger the pig of a boat and the heavier the paddlers the bigger the wakes will be. Two big strong guys in a stock tandem can be a really nice boat to ride wake on. A solo surf ski not so much.

If a boat passes you try to jump right in behind them. If you try coming up from behind you have to climb over those wakes before you get your ride, and that's a lot of work. For the same reason try to not lose the wake or you'll have to work extra hard to get it back. Many times paddlers climb up in stages. Get the 3rd wake, ride it for a while, and then sprint up to the second wake. Ride it a while and then sprint up to the first wake. It takes a while to get the feel of when your riding a wake properly and sometimes you don't even know you have it until you've lost it. Other times it will feel like you're climbing a mountain as you try to get over it and then you can feel yourself slide down the face on the other side.

You can also ride a boats side wake but you'll need to be very close to them and your bow, depending on boat lengths, will be about 1/4 of the way back from their bow.

Beware the shallows, they aren't called "suck water" for nothing. Once you get less than 3-4 feet of water it's like paddling it cement. It's a delicate balance on rivers deciding if you should cut the corners and paddle through the shallows on the inside of the turn or stay out in the current for more speed but paddle a little farther to make it around the bend. Strong paddlers in racing boats have the hull designs and strength that let them overcome the waves created in shallow water so while they have to work harder it won't slow them down so much. In a "normal" boat all you can do is grit your teeth or try to stay in deeper water.

You can go to J an J canoes website and find all sorts of cooling little things for racing. Most are simple and cheap and could even me made yourself. Mike was right on hydration, you'll want something that will allow you to drink without having to stop paddling.

Alan
 
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Any other hints or ideas?

Sorry, got off storytelling. Looking at the race announcement in the Events forum it appears that both the 4 and 10 mile races are up and back, so current is largely negated. Tidal flow, I dunno.

Without possible tidal help or hindrance I’d expect the 10 miler to be right around two hours of paddling. Which doesn’t sound bad at a touring pace, and a relaxing lilly-dipper day on the water, but doing it at X-percent of max effort is taxing on the body, especially without some ergonomics in place.

Are you planning to paddle the NorthStar backwards from the bow seat? My vague recollection of that canoe is that it had a thwart awfully close to the bow seat, and that is was asymmetrical/differentially rockered. I could be very much mistaken that – am I thinking of the right Bell hull and not one of their same-name models that were vastly different in composite vs RX?

Anyway, if you are comfortable paddling the NorthStar backwards I’d look at installing a temporary foot brace, even if that is a dowel or piece of thick plastic pipe and a rope back to the seat or thwart that you can press your feet against. If you are hitting it hard for a couple of hours you’ll appreciate not having to counteract the forward pull of each paddle stroke with your core.

And whatever else makes you comfortable in the boat. I can still hit it hard for a couple of hours stamina-wise, but not if I’m uncomfortable in the boat. For me that means everywhere my body touches the boat, ass, knees and feet.

I didn’t realize this was a mid-September race in Florida
http://www.floridastateparks.org/bl...nformation/bls-bluespringpaddlebattle2014.pdf

That sounds like a sweat-fest, so not just hydration availability but garb stuff as well, lightweight and light colored clothing, sun hat, bailer to dump river water on your head. Florida paddling you probably have that sun and heat protection down.

Dry bag with sand in the bow for trim.

I’d suggest a dromedary bag or other water containers instead. They will float, not at least sink to the bottom. And maybe test how much weight where in the bow for best waterline performance before race day.

Ice packs for inside PFD

Never tried it. There are some pretty thin ice pack sheets. Techni Ice makes reusable sheets (15” x 11”, can be cut to smaller sizes) that are remarkably thin. Just wet them, scrunch them around in waer and stick them in the freezer (or the microwave, they work hot just as well).

http://www.dryicepacks.com/Scripts/default.asp?gclid=CO7Cia-Qr8ACFbTm7AodHhwAAQ

I’m not sure about the physiological effects of placing ice sheets against your body, even in a Florida summer. Sounds cool though, and you could always yank them out if you started to shiver under the tropic sun.
 
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Thanks Allen forgot the drafting. Kept up with a sea kayak for about a half hour in a Mad River Explorer by riding his wake just right. Hydration will be very important.

Will be in tandem mode in the recreational class. Now way will I put a Northstar up against a racing hull. I love racing hulls but my old solo Jensen design is so early a Jensen design the DY magic beats it.

The course is down the Saint Johns river around the point of Hontoon Island and up the Dead river to Snake Creek and back to the starting line. Dead river is well...dead. Basically without current. Snake creek can be stagnet. No tidal flow to worry about. Just manatees.

Mike never aplogize about story telling. I love to hear it and it is what makes this site so good. It is like learning around a campfire. Thnks for all the ideas. Just need to find the thread about temporary foot braces.
 
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What's your old Jensen? I've got a couple old WWC1's from the late 70's/early 80's that are neat old boats. I cut the sides down on both of them and made them much more pleasant to paddle. They're just a touch faster than my Magic.

Happy to hear you'll be tandem in the Northstar. That should make it a fairly competitive boat. It won't bring home first but I wouldn't feel bad about paddling mine against other stock canoes and kayaks if I had a good tandem partner....which I don't.

Are you going to put the strongest paddler in the bow or stern?

Alan
 
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My Jensen Is the Mohawk C1 and have been told it is very similar to a late 70's Wenonah 16ft WWC1.

Wish we could change it up a little and put my wife in the stern. Maybe next year after we try it for a while . All our trips have been with her in the bow. She is the best at keeping balance when I lean the canoe to turn with out seeing what I am doing. She also is better at calling out obstructions in twisty and narrow runs that are almost hidden in brackish water. For most of our paddling it makes sense for her to be in the bow. For racing not so much. But at least she is willing to try the race. Just need to make our selves competitive and at least mid pack so she will have fun and try it again.

If they ever race in a narrow twisty creek/spring run I would bet on us. We are also pretty good on picking lines on moving water and working together to take them. Deep wide water not so much. Tend to keep off it to stay away from power boats.
 
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I also have a fiberglass Wenonah Jensen WWC1. I am rather surprised to hear that it is faster than a Magic, but then I have never paddled the two hulls back to back.

Some of the above stories reminded me of a citizen's downriver race I participated in on the Susquehanna River in PA years ago. Two guys showed up in a 17' aluminum Grumman with straight shaft wooden paddles that were decent, but decidedly undistinguished. They were young and looked to be in good shape but did not have the wiry build and large lats that most of the real marathon racing types possessed.

When the horn sounded those two guys took off like a shot with a stroke cadence that must have been pushing 80/min. I rather smugly assumed that they would soon fade, but I lost sight of them within a few miles and never saw them again. Turns out they finished first in the tandem class ahead of some tandem teams paddling 18' Jensens.
 
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Funny story. It would be fun to go to the aluminum nationals sometime just to see what strong paddlers can do with those boats.

Alan
 
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It would be fun to go to the aluminum nationals sometime just to see what strong paddlers can do with those boats.

I have no desire to own an aluminum canoe these days, but if I found an old Beaver aluminum 18.5 at a reasonable price I’d jump on it just for historic funsies.
 
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Snake creek is so narrow in spots passing is a no go. I'd not worry about being embarrassed. Soloing a tandem is not known for speed with all the extra friction. Any sandbags and ballast just makes more work remember force equals mass times acceleration. The St Johns is very wide and potentially windy. I paddled the same course recreationally in a dedicated solo with a wind and made it in 3.5 hours If you must paddle that boat a back band and especially some sort of foot brace is crucial. Otherwise your back will not thank you
 
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I got to briefly paddle an 18.5' Beaver with yanoer on Wildcat Creek in IN last year. They are not very robust in build in order to keep the weight down. This one had multiple leaking rivets so with water coming in we couldn't go too far, but it did seem fast. He sold it the same day.
 
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Just realized you said you'd be tandem Ignore what I said xcept for foot braces. For both of you. And if possible sliding seats that ought to trim out the boat even with a weight difference The engine does go in the bow. No doubt you will see mixed teams and see gal in the stern How bout inflatable PFDs? They are much cooler
 
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Will choose any passing zones want to see If we can catch a little help from a wave when we can. Know snake creek well. Just usually come from the other direction. We launch at the end of the dirt road by blue springs and go south to the logging canal(some call it bird house canal) down dead river to snake creek. Have done the 10 mile race route in little under 3 hours in a Mohawk solo 14 in Rolex. The stretch of the St Jhons from Blue Springs to Hontoon cna get quite windy in the afternoon. Hope to be around the north end of Hontoon island before the east coast sea breeze comes up. Know how to hide mostly from it on the dead river. Need to stay just on the east side of the Dead river right on the edge of the deeper water.

Not going to put sliding seats in a Bell Northstar for just one race. But will be working on temporary foot braces. Going to try to get the better half to try the rear tomorrow. She feels comfortable in the bow so it may not be easy. Not going drastic at this time just want to be competitive in the receration class. If the wife likes it may be just maybe that "little" Jensen racing tandem that keeps on popping up for sale just north of us may be bought. Who knows may just play in the rec/stock class for a while. Inflatable PFD's are not in the budget at the moment as I do not know if they are legal.

Aluminum canoe racing :'} Remember my uncle Breaking a seat in one just before the bridge/finish line in Oswego IL back in 76 or was it 77 on the Fox river. Was trying to keep second when the seat broke and he ended up in the river. It was funny to see from the bridge.

Would have to use metal polish and make the aluminum canoe blind the other racers with its glare or maybe just for style points.
 
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Just wanted to say thanks to every one who gave helpful ideas and insight.

Yellow Canoe the snake creek were you said passing would be a problem. Well we had a two boat battle with a sea kayak for about three miles in that area while being passed by another sea kayak. Kind of tight.

Having a perfectly level canoe did not seem to help much. The ballast sand in a dry bag did help when the wind hit us. Was able to stay mostly on course by moving the ballast forward. Just a little bow high was the best over all. Gained eight minutes or so in a ten mile race after getting it right.

Foot rest worked great. Need to figure out if we are going to keep this canoe or upgrade in the near future to a lighter one of the same type. If the canoe is to kept will install a permanent foot rest in the rear.

Ice packs work wonders under a PFD in Florida heat. They are a must have in the front as well as the back. No direct contact with he skin. Tried this out on second test run. Would have been great advantage. But once on the water every one took off there life jackets. You only had to had to have them on to launch.

Stayed mostly in the deep water and read the currents to help.

Had two practice runs on the course with times of 2 hours 6 minutes and 2 hours 1 minute for the 9.7 mile course in the last two weeks. Race day official time of 1 hour 57 minutes and eight seconds. Was one of two canoes. The other canoe was a C1 hull. Not sure who was in the recreational class. They had problems with the racing software and did the two top class by hand. Will receive the results by mail. From what I can tell we won the rec class. The fastest out of what I would consider the three boats in the rec class. Every thing else was racing hulls. Even the sups. Beat one of them ;-) Winning time was 1 hour 18 minutes by a racing kayak that looked 20 foot long and very very narrow. Wish there would have been a bigger recreational/stock hull class.

This is the wife’s and I one and only canoe race she says unless I can come up with a modern racing C2 hull and equipment to match. Any donations? :)

Have discovered two things. We like having a reasonably fast hull to get us out to the areas were most do not go. Once there we like slow down, investigate little offshoots, and just enjoy the wilderness. The other thing we have discovered is it is almost impossible to make a Bell Northstar go faster than 5 miles a hour with out a outboard motor. Believe that to be the hull's limit in calm water.

Florida is a strange strange land. Few canoes and a lot of kayaks. Told the wife we need to move up north to canoe country. She says its too cold and for you all to move down here and bring your canoes so we can have a class at the races and kids do not say daddy whats that strange boat and why are they using only half a paddle?

Thanks again for all your help and kindness.
 
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