OC-1 speed

I've been paddling six-mile flatwater courses in preparation for a 12-mile race in the Atlantic. Tuesday I paddled the course, three miles into 20 to 25 knot headwinds and three miles back. Did it in about 1:15. That seems pretty slow to me. Virtually no surfing. But I can't see myself placing in a 12-miler in the Atlantic with a time of 2:30. Am I THAT slow?

Submitted by kanulife on Thu, 03/25/2004 - 2:27pm

I take it you're somewhere south of Albany? :wink:

I find that it's pretty hard to judge how well you will do in a race by timing courses unless they are really exactly the same every time, as in a river. And even then, all you can really do is judge your improvement. Also, if there was that kind of wind, that seems like a pretty decent time to me. Have you done any races before? Is this race part of the ECORA season?

The best way to judge if you're really paddling hard is to find someone to train with who is reasonably close to your skill level, that way you push each other every time you paddle. I suppose finding someone to train with might be a bit hard depending on your area though. You might also consider getting one of those speed mate impellers or a GPS if you really want to know your speed. If you're really getting into the training, a heart rate monitor is also a great tool to monitor your workouts.

#1 Thu, 03/25/2004 - 3:03pm

I've also had a hard time getting a handle on OC-1 flatwater speed. If you go the the Sound Rowers (Seattle) site, they have tons of race results for the last few years. There are some very strong OC-1 paddlers there. In the most recent race, reported as having "flat" conditions, the winning OC-1 averaged 6.64 mph over 7 miles, with #2 averaging 6.31 mph. The winning surfski averaged about 7.5 mph. I've been paddling OC-1 for about 1 year, and I find I can keep up a steady pace of about 6mph, with bursts up to and slightly over 7mph, but not much more on flats. Now, on waves, the speed potential is nearly unlimited- I hit 15 coming down a wave a few weeks ago. The other thing is that OC-1's seem to be a bit slow going into the wind, probably due to the high seating position. Most of the boats seem to really come into their own in downwind races, of the type so popular in Hawaii. Anyway, it sounds like you are doing pretty well. Get a Speedmate or GPs and see what you do without the wind, etc.


#2 Fri, 03/26/2004 - 1:15pm

Hey Kanulife,

Yes, trying to gauge your performance ahead of a race is very tempting and I have tried to do that a lot as well, here's my experience:
There's basically two problems you need to solve:
1) Know the speed of your competitors
2) Know your own speed

1) Estimating the speed of your competitors seems to be easy, after all you have race results on the internet, with time and distance, and it should be easy to calculate the average speed of the winner. But that's really tricky, first of all, the published race distance is often off by as much as much as a half a mile. Also the wind and wave conditions can make a difference of as much as 2 mph in the average speed. Don't get too stressed out about the results of the folks in Hawaii (http://www.kanakaikaika.com/2003_Race_Dates/2003_Race_Dates.htm), first they often have waves to help them, and second - even if they're not surfing waves - they're still way too fast. So if you want to stay optimistic, check the results from the eastcoast races at www.eastcoastoutrigger.com.
But with that said, an average speed of around 7 mph in flat water with no wind will make you very competitive on the east coast. And anything over 6.5 should get you in among the top half of the field in a 12 mile race.

2) I don't know where you're paddling, but depending on the body of water you're training on you can try to estimate your speed by using a GPS or a speedmate (www.speedtech.com). In water with strong currents it will be easier and more accurate to measure your speed relative to the current with a speedmate as opposed to a GPS. I really like the speedmate, because you get immediate feedback and you can gauge the efficiency of each of your strokes immediately.
If you don't want to invest in this type of gadgetry, but consistently have a problem with a course where one leg takes you longer the than the other, because of wind or current (e.g. the first 3 miles take you 45 minutes and the way back takes you only 30 minutes), you can estimate your average time per leg using the formula: 2t1t2/(t1+t2). In the exampe above that would be 23045/(30+45)=36 minutes per leg. Meaning if the conditions had been the same for each leg you would have had a time of 1:12 as opposed to 1:15, which would be a pretty big difference in a race. This assumes the wind/current helps you as much in one direction as it slows you down in the other direction, but it's definitely better than just adding up the times for both legs.

But after all, there's only one way to find out how fast you are and that's to come out to race. I look forward to seeing you in a couple of ECORA races this year.


#3 Sat, 03/27/2004 - 5:58pm

I think it is really hard to gauge race vs. practice. I practice with a timex speed distance system (gps) wich shows distance traveled and pace per mile or speed. I can also take splits per mile automatically. Tide/current and wind make a huge difference in my speeds. I train in the same place (usually), and race all over the place and there are big disparities in speed. I average 9 min. miles in practice over 7 mile pieces, but usually have a faster average pace in races (which are generally 10+ miles).
The variables are huge. In a race you have adrenaline (which for some can be a huge advantage, and for others a detrament). Also you have others to feed off of. You may have downwind portions (or upwind or cross wind) which will affect your pace.
Also when trying to assess your speed vs others, there is the matter of boat choice. If you have a great surfing boat and a competitor has a great flatwater boat, race course will play a huge factor. There are guys I beat in some races, and guys who beat me in others.
As Dorian said, the best way to figure it out is to race (not to mention the most fun). Also, don't get discouraged if you don't do as well as you want. There is always the next race. Use each race as a practice for the next. Learn from mistakes and pick guys who are ahead of you and pick them off at the next race. Line up with guys who are alittle bit faster and stay with them. Make moves on people and try to win the race mentally. Rest on bumps. Have fun!

#4 Sun, 03/28/2004 - 5:07am

Thanks for all the input. I paddle in the Gulf of Mexico and typically paddle the same course three times a week. I use a heart rate monitor and try to stay at atou 145 to 150. I'm hoping the Atlantic course will be downwind. The Fort Lauderdale Outrigger Club is hosting the June race. It's a 12-miler, hopefully downwind. The last time I paddled the six-mile course it was blowing about 30 knots on the nose. It took me an hour to paddle three miles into the wind. Then it took about 25 minutes to paddle three miles downwind.

#5 Sun, 03/28/2004 - 9:21am

You should've come out and paddled in the Watertribe Ultra Marathon a couple weeks ago. 70 miles in the Gulf...Tampa to Placida. I was the only OC-1 and would've loved to have seen another. We had lovely 15-20 knot headwinds the entire race (nothing like 6' swells hitting your nose all day)! Took me 17:20 to finish. It was fun, really, it was. Really. :D

#6 Sun, 03/28/2004 - 2:57pm

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