Weight classes for races ?

Weigth is very important in boat performance.

Increasing the weight from 200 lbs to 220 lbs increases your 'wetted surface' area by 15 - 20 %, and your resistance is that much higher, thus the power you need to generate is that much more also.

Would it then not make more sense to have people paddle in different weight classes as compared to paddle in different age groups ?

Submitted by eckhart on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 4:44pm

Speaking of new classifications, goto's been really pushing for the formation of a new trans-gender division up here in Warshington.

#1 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 5:47pm

Thats great, except who would you compete against in it?

#2 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 5:51pm

I would argue that weight plays only a small fractional part of speed. If you're 40 pounds heavier than me and have 15% more wetted surface, I would expect you to be at least 15% stronger than me. Ya gotta pull your weight. I advocate catagories based on how often you practice. I want to beat down the other twice-a-weekers, not get crushed by the 5-times-a-weekers.

#3 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 6:19pm

I sat on a hurricane and it damn near sank! I could compete against other guys who are 260 but they would be 6'5 and still kill me.

The troll build, with the heavy torso, legs and short arms...great for pushing weights but cant be good for OC

I know that power and momentum are a big factor in rowing and the lightweights and the heavyweights dont compete for that reason

I suppose you can look at the top oc-1 guys and come to a conclusion about what body type and weight is the most ideal...??? I figure a 6'2 185lb guy, thin in the legs and hips, long arms, broad shoulders, great strength to bodyweight...

#4 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 7:26pm

most ideal would be the guy that wants it the most. Ive seen big guys go fast little guys. even overweight people, people that smoke and that surprised me. I’ve even seen slow people go fast. They all had one thing in conmen they wanted it real bad. and found a way.

#5 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 7:49pm

Why do we need more classes? I rate myself as to how I finish against all paddlers. I dont come in 15th and ask myself if the guy in 14th got help from his extra 20 lbs.This isnt directed at anyone in particular but to say that weight gives someone an advantage or disadvantage maybe has a little too much time on their hands that far back in the pack. Im in sales and they say that once you ask for the sale during the negotiation process the first person who talks, loses. I feel the same with racing. Seems like some of the first people speaking up after a finish are the ones making excuses. I say keep it simple and keep training.

#6 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:07pm

What are the height/weight of the top guys? I know in rowing there is a pretty consistent range. No short/fat guys winning in rowing

If there was a gold medal for effort, I would have been up there but I have seen too many guys (I am talking football here) who did drugs and practiced half assed who just were amazingly gifted, got strong just looking at the weights and could run like the wind. Now paddling is different, but Andy Penny or Kai or Laird or a lot of these guys were gifted with something special that goes beyond putting in the miles and being mentally tough. The tolerance for the training volume is something that varies a lot from person to person and how quickly they enter an overtrained state.

I know guys who have killed themselves for years trying to do things like press a 48kg kettlebell or a 400lb barbell and it just aint gonna happen, the leverages, tendon attachments and muscle fiber type are all wrong anymore than I am going to wake up and have an amazing vertical leap or row sweep for cal. The former soviet union dug pretty deep into that and the results spoke for themselves.

#7 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:25pm

I agree with you Shawn that some people are naturally born with better physical attributes for athletic activities. BUT, I would say that the top guys are giving 110% to their training and when they dont they dont win. They still do well, but not win. Anyone who performs at any level will improve if they give more to their training wether it be diet, training methods, dare I say....equipment. You say that you arent built to be the picture perfect paddler but you are devoted and you are still improving right?

#8 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:32pm

Whereas in rowing the heavyweights are in a different weight class because they are "always" faster, you have the clydesdale in sport where being heavy is a handicap.

I gravitate towards individual sport because all I can ever do is compete against myself. If you win and do not hit a personal best, is the victory still sweet?

"Real glory springs from the silent conquest of ourselves"

If I'm getting better I am happy.

#9 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:36pm

It is so dumb but before I knew anything I thought if the polynesian guys do it I am just a splinter. Looking at some of the race photos, yes there are some big/obese guys making the crossing (on the canoes that are supposed to be for small guys.) While speed may be more in the athletically gifted department, making it to the end has a lot more mental toughness. Jesus, look at painteurs vid of him cramping up over and over again.

#10 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:45pm

Its funny though, if the races were shorter I think you would have different winners. I think one of the biggest qualities a paddler in Hawaii can have is the ability to read the water. I paddle with these grumpy old guys 3 days a week and I could beat a few of them in a sprint but when we go for miles they smoke me just from reading the water, they arent even paddling that hard and im killing myself. Its really impressive to watch although im getting tired of always watching!

#11 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 11:05pm

BTW - His vid of one of the most motivating ive seen yet

#12 Mon, 06/09/2008 - 11:06pm

In your opinion, is age better than weight to classify paddlers/boats ?

The question is based on boat design and the effect of wetted surface area on different boat's performance; weight comes into play as it influences wetted surface, age obviously has no influence here.

How much you weigh personally or how you perform is not my point, whether you group by age or by weight, you will still end up where you end up; weight is just one factor in open ocean paddling that decides whether you win or not.

The question could also be: how much do you think paddler/boat's weight influence open ocean paddling performance and should it be accounted for ?

e02060 - the surfski races in SA have a system somewhat relating to your idea - they have two races in the beginning of the season, then they take the times and you end up in one of five groups based on % time that you were slower than the winner, group A 5%, groupp B 5 - 10 % etc..

jpi92109 - OC 1/2 have almost no restrictions, it is an open class. In other boat sports, construction rules are pretty specific and narrowly defined. That relates to wetted surface area and the resisting drag.

OHCRA has a minimum weight requirement for OC 6; there are many other examples.

Most want want the lightest boat possible.


#13 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 2:15pm

A great period in OC-1 to look at would be the late 90's when two of the top paddlers did battle in the MoloSolo. Mark Rigg, at 6'5", 180 lbs, really lean and long, versus John foti, 5'9" and built like a weightlifter. They did battle for three epic years in the MoloSolo, finishing top two and easily leaving behind the rest of the field. Two opposite ends of the spectrum, both maximizing their given physique and natural skill. Does height and weight matter? Maybe a little, but I think the correlation between strength to weight negates the difference. If a man weighs 220 lbs and apply 250 ft/lbs of torque in the water, then a 180 lb man only needs to apply 210 ft/lbs to equal him, right? Doesn't the net power balance out? I would assume if being heavier had any advantage, it would be more in a six man because of how well power translates to glide compared to in a OC1.

#14 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 10:32am

Fun Topic...like the thread that is developing. My two cents worth.

FF Kino, I believe it was Jim Foti in the late 90's battling with Mark. You right, awesome.

Met a physics teacher who told me a story about a class project that one of his students did in class. This boy was an avid paddler (BTW, it was a high school student) who tried to figure out the physics of paddling. Most of his conclusions are being talked about right now in all the threads....load waterline, friction, etc., etc. After doing all his research, his conclusion to make a canoe go fast came down to three things;

  1. length of stroke, as long as possible.
  2. speed of stroke, take that long stroke and keep doing it as fast as you can for as long as you.
  3. weight, keep everything as light as possible.

Mark Rigg would be a protype paddler. As is Walt Guild. Look at the Dolan boys, Rooney, even Jr. is long and lean. Everything sounds good....but Jim and John Foti, Kai, Manny, Thiebert...they all poke wholes into this theory.

So, long story short...let's all keep debating this.

Jaws out....

#15 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 11:54am

It was John battling Rigg in the 90s.

#16 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 2:40pm

Actually, I think they have this in some races. Usually it's called 'Tugboat' division for guys 200 lbs, 225 lbs, over even 250+. Probably more informal than what you are suggesting.

#17 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 5:22pm

I suggest two divisions :
- Canoes with flames decals (goes fast !)
- Every other canoe (slower due to the lack of flames...)

#18 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 6:27pm

In Samoa they have big fasy guy's. Scary too. you should see there Rugby team.

#19 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 6:57pm

In Hawaii i think reading water is bigger than weight. Ive seen some pretty amazing things just from guys who can read the water movements.

#20 Tue, 06/10/2008 - 11:16pm

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