Experimenting with Set Up

8 months 1 week ago #37682 by CrabStick
I tried shortening the foot plate back 2 notches in the Swordfish last year and quite liked how much it helped get the legs working in rotation but felt significantly less stable. The knees were higher and this may affect the centre of gravity but there also seemed to be a reduction in my "contact patch" (term borrowed from marketing material for mountain bike tyres) in the bucket ie less butt and thighs pushing into bucket and resisting tilt and slide of boat under me. Bigger paddlers will probably have no idea that this can even be an issue but it really affects stability for those with small butts in wide buckets. As an example, I spent some time in an unpadded V8 a couple of years ago and felt I had way less control of tilt than in the well padded bucket of my Swordfish. It's all very well to say that you should just focus on stroke and feet for stability (which I agree with) but this is much much easier when your contact with the bucket is improved and that contact allows plenty of damping of the boat movement. But I digress.....
So after 2 notches felt too short, I left the footplate 1 notch shorter and still enjoyed some improved leg drive. I left it there for more than 6 months. Last week I got curious again and tried another notch shorter again. In a Fenn that's quite a big increment - looks like 12mm or 1/2 inch. It completely cleared my calves from the hump and again felt like significant improvement in leg drive with snappier rotation and better forward reach at the catch. Also am getting tight and sore in gluteals after paddles which I'll take as a good sign for now. I've persisted this time and think I will get used to it on flat water but it challenged my stability in messy ocean conditions. For straight downwind I expect it to be fine.
The next experiment was to try with a longer paddle which I think makes sense when you're moving faster downwind as per Boyan and Oscar. I can't do fast cadence effectively. Last time I tried lengthening by 2cm I didn't feel I had good control of the paddle at times and basically didn't feel I could apply power to it well. Since reducing leg length (and hopefully some improved rotation + leg drive) I've tried again with getting paddle from 206.5 out to 208cm and it felt a bit more tiring but also felt like a more powerful stroke on the flat. I'm encouraged to keep trying 208 to 210 for downwind.
I guess the message is don't be afraid to experiment with your settings and keep coming back to them from time to time as your strength and technique evolve.
How have others found their optimal foot plate position? How does it affect pelvis and back posture?
I'm hoping the increased knee flexion will take tension off my ridiculously tight hamstrings and allow my pelvis to flex forward a bit. But....if the knees flex up too much it might actually tilt my pelvis back.

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin S, Swordfish S, Fenn Spark S
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV

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8 months 1 week ago #37684 by Steve Hansen
That's a lot to unpack. :) Here's the way I see it.Seating position is always a compromise. Straighter legs=more lower back strain but better leg drive. Higher knees=less stability, less leg drive, but less back strain. Raising the seat does much the same but I think in a better way because your power is always better as you raise the seat.Hence the high seat position in K1's . It gets complicated because we all have different levels of flexibility, stroke mechanics, body type, skill and on and on. Generally leg drive goes out the door the rougher the conditions. Personally I don't like really bent knees as it puts more pressure on my boney ass. I prefer to pad the seat up and get as much contact area as possible including thigh support. As far as paddle length, I always want the longest I feel comfortable (read fatigue) with so that I have the longest stroke possible. Of course the exception is shorter for powering onto waves. You're right, keep experimenting as hopefully one's skill level is always improving/ changing. BTW, I notice you have a Fenn Spark S. Can you compare it to the previous generation ?

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8 months 1 week ago #37685 by LaPerouseBay

CrabStick wrote: How have others found their optimal foot plate position? How does it affect pelvis and back posture?
I'm hoping the increased knee flexion will take tension off my ridiculously tight hamstrings and allow my pelvis to flex forward a bit. But....if the knees flex up too much it might actually tilt my pelvis back.


That's the key.  Also try to understand what Ivan says: "it's a pushing sport, not a pulling sport"  And as Oscar says, "don't push forward with the top hand."  That leaves the core...   
And right in the middle is the sacrum.  All roads above and below pass thru.  Try to use that big highway to go fast.  If you use the little side roads (stabilizer muscles) watch out for blind corners.     


downwind dilettante

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #37686 by zachhandler
I find that it’s impossible to paddle well if I don’t have easy access to pressure on the foot plate. If one foot has to unweight completely for the opposite side to go through the stroke, then the foot plate is too far away. We all differ in our flexibility. And therefore we all differ in which knee height is optimal for power. If you have short hamstrings like me then you need higher knees in order to properly transmit power through your stroke. The downsides that I can see of high knees are less stability, less boat-feel downwind, and increased pressure on the “sit bones”. But overall higher knees are probably  better for power - look at how sprint paddlers sit. 

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8 months 1 week ago #37687 by Steve Hansen
Looking at the sacroiliac joint video brings me to one of my pet peeves with surfskis: The curved shape of the seat when viewed from the side. For me this promotes the slump posture so prevalent with ski paddlers and means I keep slipping forward in the seat. I have solved this problem by using a back band  so I sit up straighter and also using a foam pad to essentially flatten the bottom and build up the front of the seat area slightly so I don't slide forward. The back band seems to be a fairly common modification from what I see.
The following user(s) said Thank You: DrA5

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8 months 1 week ago #37688 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Experimenting with Set Up
Since doubling up paddling on  k1 and hence a  lower angle of foot position I find blocking up the footplate under the heel helps me with leg  drive and rotation, Similar to bringing the footplate closer but without cramping up the ankle angle. This also helps me swapping between boats as foot is a similar and for both boats and in both I drive with full foot rather than heel for surf and bowl of foot for K1.

I also do drills that ignore leg drive and focus soley and forward hip rotation of opposite side and thus keeping a positive pressure on foot rather than lifting or pulling back

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8 months 1 week ago #37689 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Experimenting with Set Up

zachhandler wrote: I find that it’s impossible to paddle well if I don’t have easy access to pressure on the foot plate. If one foot has to unweight completely for the opposite side to go through the stroke, then the foot plate is too far away. We all differ in our flexibility. And therefore we all differ in which knee height is optimal for power. If you have short hamstrings like me then you need higher knees in order to properly transmit power through your stroke. The downsides that I can see of high knees are less stability, less boat-feel downwind, and increased pressure on the “sit bones”. But overall higher knees are probably  better for power - look at how sprint paddlers sit. 


I think you will find sprint paddlers get higher knees simply due the higher degree of hip rotation, much easier in a K1 without a hump, and less seat contact. Training on  k1 will help improve your overall hip rotation skills, rather than rotating at the waist as many ski paddlers do, and nearly all sea kayakers do.

Agree unweighting is a bad thing as it induces a lag in applying immediate power as force is being reversed, or even worse taking up slack due to heel lifting.  If you can maintain a token forward pressure then that leg is preloaded for immediate drive when it is applied.

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8 months 1 week ago - 8 months 1 week ago #37692 by Arcturus
Replied by Arcturus on topic Experimenting with Set Up
I adhered a Lincke seat pad to the bucket for my most recent paddle. After maybe half an hour, I moved the footplate forward (away from me)  by one notch. The seat pad felt good. My sitbones have always felt too much pressure while paddling the ski, and I, too, thought that spreading some of the load around would help.

The padding and the lessening of positional load on sitbones by slightly decreasing knee bend felt much better. I still have room under the bent knees, and raising my weight higher resulted in no loss of stability.

So this season, my first on a ski, I moved the footplate forward by at least three notches total. I remember the first outing, when I was so bent up that my legs cramped immediately after getting off the ski!

Yes, experimentation is good. Next year, assuming this new setup still feels good, maybe I can develop and use the power that I still sense is not being fully tapped, as I used to do on a bicycle. I suspect aging is only part of the reason.

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8 months 1 week ago #37707 by DrA5
Replied by DrA5 on topic Experimenting with Set Up
As Steve noted, I have the same issue. As I paddle in anything other than thin neoprene paddle shorts (thicker wetsuit/drysuit), I would gradually slide forward, be leaning back, and need to do a double leg press (hard) to get me to sit up straight again. Once I bent the steering yoke from doing this.   It got so bad that I had to do that every couple of strokes. I stopped paddling in conditions where  I needed my 3.0 drysuit pants.  I did install the Epic back bolster foam in the rear of the bucket for the lower back, but I am also thinking of putting a thin wedge of foam in the back half of the seat section to introduce more anterior pelvic tilt. 

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7 months 4 weeks ago #37767 by Dratz
Replied by Dratz on topic Experimenting with Set Up
OK, i’ve finally managed to subscribe effectively and thought i might share my “journey” with the Swordfish S seat. 
I’ve had the boat for about 18months and grown to really love and trust the hull and the stability profile. I started getting some pain in the buttocks/hammies at one point and decided to raise the seat with a foam pad. I at first went 14mm but the stability difference at the time was too great, so settled on a 10mm seat as a good compromise. I placed it towards the back of the bucket in order to achieve a little height and also to shift my natural “sitting position” further forwards. I have relatively short legs so this helped place my knee bend more centrally over the hump rather than bottoming out my calves. By tilting my pelvis forwards a little it also seemed to reduce the sensation you get with Fenn’s of sliding down and backwards in the bucket.
All this was very successful...for a while. My power and leg drive seemed better with the extra elevation. I then started developing a different issue with my lower back, and decided eventually that the foam pad, even with a fairly slick top surface, was bogging my ischial tuberosities down and inhibiting hip rotation, forcing some overcompensation in the SIJ and lumbar areas.

So... after a bit of research, I decided to embark on a custom fibreglass seat build. Using the outline of my foam seat pad I moulded a bottom layer using the Sworsy’s bucket (with lots of release compound....) and then built up a foam core and top skin. It is feathered from essentially zero height at the leading edge to about 10mm at the rear. It is placed at the rear of the bucket in order again to slightly reduce the rearward angle of the bucket from the hump back, tilting and lifting my pelvis. Because it is slick and hard, my rotation is retained. 
All in all I am extremely happy with the outcome, and after a couple of months think it has transformed the boat for me. A mate with a swordfish S was also considering ditching it for the same reasons and felt it was like paddling a different boat when we A/B’d them the other day.
Downsides? It was my first attempt at fibreglassing, so the finish of the topcaot is not perfect, and it adds about 500g to the boat. If i did it again I’d use carbon and fewer layers.
You’ll also see some self adhesive foam at the sides of the bucket to provide some tactile proprioceptive feedback to my hips. I find this helps also with stability in unpredictable chop.
Pics below:

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The following user(s) said Thank You: robin.mousley

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7 months 3 weeks ago #37768 by robin.mousley
That's flippin' brilliant! 

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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7 months 3 weeks ago #37769 by Epicpaddler
I never worried or even thought about the seating position on my Epic v8pro. It was so comfortable, once I set the foot pedals up the way I wanted  I never moved them in 3 seasons. Now that I've been paddling a v10g3 for the past month I've been wondering about my set up. I kept the same #22 setting on the foot pedal adjustment and it seems Ok. I tried moving it out a notch or two, but my legs touched the hump on the rotation and it felt "too long" if that makes sense. The new g3 v10 is geared for downwind and the seating position seams to have a more leaned back geometry in the back of the bucket. I've had the same situation as a few others. I feel like I'm sliding down the bucket with my wetsuit on and I need to 'push up" to get back into a natural position. 

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7 months 3 weeks ago #37770 by tve
Replied by tve on topic Experimenting with Set Up
I find that a small foam pad can make a huge difference. 5mm-8mm thick and just filling the very bottom of the seat well. Duck tape over the bottom and edges and then UHMW tape over the top to make it slippery. Use some acrylic double-side tape to tack it down. Takes a bit of tweaking to find the right placement, but completely changes the feel even though it looks like nothing in terms of thickness. The way I would describe the feel is that instead of sitting in a well that inhibits rotation I feel like I'm sitting on a flat surface that lets me rotate easily. It also tilts my pelvis forward, helping me to sit upright. A friend uses a small wedge shaped pad in the back of the seat well just to tilt the pelvis forward.
The insert Dratz shows looks very cool! Besides being too lazy [...] I've held off from doing something like that because I've found that every few months I want something slightly different as my paddling improves. I wonder what the lightest construction would be...

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7 months 1 week ago #37838 by CrabStick
Replied by CrabStick on topic Experimenting with Set Up
Yep I bet those wedges at back of bucket improve posture. I can't imagine it would be too helpful when I'm skating down a steep wave and trying to lean right back to keep nose from submarining though. I realise this is driver error and am trying to stay higher on the wave and stop paddling a bit sooner.
Steve Hansen, with a bit of spare time on his hands since retiring as All Blacks coach, asked about the Spark S relative to the original Spark.....my previous topic "15 good and bad reasons to buy that elite ski" was inspired by my questionable decision to buy the Spark S. It outlines what I love about it but reality is that I can only safely downwind in pretty nice groomed conditions. Will keep trying to master it this Summer but am a lot more relaxed in Swordfish S with well padded bucket.
I trialed the original model Spark once in flat water and once in ocean before I bought the S. Both had fantastic bucket fit for me, The original seemed to have a slightly tighter bucket. Maybe 5mm but I don't have actual measurements. It had a bigger hump and it was not good with my short legs and meaty calves. Problem solved with the hump in the S which seems to be both lower and shorter.
Also there is a proper leash anchor point in the S. Both have surprisingly good secondary stability and both steer quite strongly the opposite way that you lean the hull (can be fun but sometimes occurs when I don't want it to) and are very maneuverable. Catching fast swells or smaller waves and piercing through small waves to get to proper runners are massive strengths of this boat as long as I can balance and paddle well. When sitting on a wave it feels really solid and stable so usually relatively easy to power up for the next wave in front. Remount is not super easy and is worth practicing but good for the boat width. Weight is lower than advertised. 

CrabStick

Current Boats: BlueFin S, Swordfish S, Fenn Spark S
Previous: Think Eze, Stellar SR, Carbonology Boost LV

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