Wilderness Canoe Trips!



Whatís the best team strategy for the kayak leg?

Should we tether our canoes or kayaks?

Should I drink while I'm canoeing?


Whatís the best team strategy for the kayak leg?

Since we are most familiar with sprint adventure races, let me start with The Hi Tec Series. If you plan on doing a race that uses Sevylor kayaks, thereís a few things you should know:

1. Letís talk about who should be in the two man and in the single kayak. If at all possible try to keep the weight as light as possible and balanced in the two person kayak. Donít have two 200+ lb. Guys in one boat and a 90 lb. Women in the single. Your front boat will be so low in the water and just trudging along. Also, try and keep the boat as level as possible in the water. This will prevent the kayak from pushing water. Use your seat placement to adjust for weight differences. Your team should try every combination to see what works best. In the two person, the front person is the motor and the back person is the captain. His job is to steer and keep pace with the front paddler. The two person will usually have more problems with steering.

2. Sevylors do not track very well in the water. So if youíre having a hard time keeping the boat straight, donít take it personal, just practice. They have no keel to guide them, which is why as soon as you stop paddling, the boat will turn. Plus, a big problem for many is that they want to try and muscle the kayaks straight with harder strokes. Let me tell you, these kayaks donít muscle very well. Youíll just get more tired and most likely find the kayak turning toward your stronger arm. Just try to keep an even stroke, whether itís fast or slow.

3. If your single kayak is having trouble keeping up, try tethering Another very important part about the kayak leg is hydration. A lot of racers think because youíre not running or riding you donít have to drink. That canít be more untrue. Here are my thoughts on kayak hydration

4. Here is some final information that you may not know. The Sevylor Kayaks, both single and double, are the same size. Look for a fully inflated kayak. Believe it or not, an extra ten seconds looking for a solid boat will pay big time and body benefits in the end. If possible, use biking gloves to save your hands. Also, donít ever go bare foot in the kayak leg because you will tear up your feet. I have seen people do this.

*Most importantly, the kayak leg can be more frustrating than any other leg because very few teams are experienced in it. Try to keep your cool and donít take it out on your teammates if things arenít going well.

Good Luck!

Should we tether our canoes or kayaks?

I believe that just like in cycling and even running, drafting is very beneficial. So if you have your boats tied together, the second boat can benefit from the lead boat's draft. This is especially true in races like the Hi Tec Series where teams are using slower kayaks like the Sevylors. They are very strong kayaks, but don't skim easily through the water. We connect the two kayaks using a bungi with carabiners on each end. Usually about 2 1/2ft. long, a bungi seems to work better because thereís no jerking motion in the kayaks. I think the biggest benefit is that it helps the slower boat move faster which means, the overall team pace is faster. Yes, it slows down the faster boat, but in adventure races, teams can't move on until the entire team completes a specific leg of the race, so they'd just be waiting for the second boat. There's also the concern that the first boat will feel the weight of the second boat causing them to blow up. But, more than likely, if they're in the front, faster boat, they're not working nearly as hard as the paddler straining to keep pace. And take it from me, when youíre in the single kayak, just that little, extra pull now and then, can go a long way.

Although Iím a strong believer in tethering for our team, it may not work for yours. Donít think that you can just jump in two kayaks, tether them together, and sail like an Spanish Armada. It takes some practice and skill. When tethering, the front boat is the locomotive and the second boat must follow like a caboose. If your second boat canít steer directly behind the stern, youíve got problems. Because as the bow of the second kayak goes one way, the first kayak will be turned the other way. This will cause the lead boat to want to torpedo and sink you. Thatís where the practice comes in to play. Because if you can stay straight in practice, donít even think about it on race day.

Tethering is not the best method for all teams. Many teams have evenly paced boats or some where the one person is actually faster than the double. It all depends on your team. It works for us because our two person kayak is a minute or so faster over a 2 mile course. This may not seem like a lot of time, but in many races, every second counts.

Good Luck!

Should I drink while I'm canoeing?

Even on water, you must still take in water! In adventure races, many people look at the kayak leg as a break in the action. Although this 

may be true for giving your legs a break, you are still working and many times, also baking out on the water with no break from the sun. This is a great time to refuel your body with liquids. I know of many people who donít bother drinking in the kayak because itís hard to hold a water bottle and paddle. Other people claim the boat turns as soon as they stop paddling to take a drink, if their water bottle hasnít vanished among the depths of the kayak or canoe. This lack of drinking in the boat can cause problems for your body as the race continues.

My suggestion is to use a camelback. Whether you choose a waist camelback or one you wear over your shoulders, itís the answer to drinking problems on the boat. The best thing to do when you put on your life vest is to feed the camelback hose up through the front of the vest so the mouth piece is easily accessible. Second, you can just keep the mouthpiece in your mouth and drink when you want to. This will keep your hands free to paddle.

In the sprint races, youíre usually in the kayak for about an hour. This is a great time to drink plenty of fluids to help hydrate you for the rest of the race. Donít ever underestimate the importance of drinking throughout a race because once you bonk, itís too late.

Do you have a training or racing tip that you'd like to share?  Email it to us and we'll try to get it on this page!  Send your ideas to ibulrich@aol.com



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