Go Big or Go Home......V8 to V14

4 years 1 week ago #27322 by Aurelius
I took the SEL out for another five mile paddle this morning, and things went much better this time. My balance has improved, and now I feel comfortable at very slow speeds and when executing sharp turns.

Yesterday I noticed that my leg drive was nearly non-existent, but I was too focused on just keeping the boat upright to worry about it. This morning I found what the problem was: the foot supports were about an inch too close to get good hip rotation. Once I fixed that, I regained most (but not all) of my leg drive. Eventually I'll get it all back, but trying to get full hip rotation at this stage causes the hull to roll too much.

I did manage to do two things I couldn't do yesterday. The first was reaching a top speed of 7.5 mph while keeping things under control, and the second was being able to hold my speed at just over 7 mph across the lake.

I'm taking the whole week off, so I plan to be out there every morning until next Monday. That will hopefully give me enough time to get more of my balance back so that I can put maximum power into my paddle strokes.

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4 years 1 week ago #27325 by kwolfe
Yeah, the amma and iakos detach using spring button clips. It's a hair under 21ft and only weighs in at 25lbs fully rigged. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend trying one. They are just flat out fun and pretty fast.

Fred,
I appreciate the words of wisdom but here in the Club of Irresponsibility, we lack good sense. It's part of the membership questionnaire! ha!
I do like my V8, however I do find the V14 more enjoyable from a speed and exhilaration standpoint. I don't have to worry about missing swells cause I don't have any. The most I paddles is 3ft rolling if the wind is blowing perfectly up river. And if it gets to rough I have options.
I don't think I'll get bored of the V14 more do I think I will gravitate to the V8. I guess part of it boils down to the person. V14 for speed and technique, OC1 for distance and fun, paddleboard for something different. The V8 is pretty much reserved for safety when the water starts to get really cold, or the wind is howling and I feel like being stupid.

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4 years 1 week ago #27326 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: Yeah, the amma and iakos detach using spring button clips. It's a hair under 21ft and only weighs in at 25lbs fully rigged. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend trying one. They are just flat out fun and pretty fast.


Hah, not much chance of that happening. I've never even seen one of those except on television.

Fred,
I appreciate the words of wisdom but here in the Club of Irresponsibility, we lack good sense. It's part of the membership questionnaire! ha!
I do like my V8, however I do find the V14 more enjoyable from a speed and exhilaration standpoint. I don't have to worry about missing swells cause I don't have any. The most I paddles is 3ft rolling if the wind is blowing perfectly up river. And if it gets to rough I have options.
I don't think I'll get bored of the V14 more do I think I will gravitate to the V8. I guess part of it boils down to the person. V14 for speed and technique, OC1 for distance and fun, paddleboard for something different. The V8 is pretty much reserved for safety when the water starts to get really cold, or the wind is howling and I feel like being stupid.


So true! Doing the sensible thing is just so... boring. Even though I'm not as fast (yet!) in the SEL as I was in the more stable SR, there is a certain thrill to paddling a narrow focus elite surf ski. My V7 is by far the most practical ski I've ever owned, and probably a much better platform to hone my technique on, but it doesn't give me the same adrenaline rush as a boat that's constantly threatening to bite me in the ass if I don't show it the proper respect! LOL

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4 years 1 week ago #27327 by red_pepper
Your sense of stability will change over time as you practice in the less stable skis. Once you nail the SEL, the SR will be your "stable" ski. And if you're paddling the V14, the V8 on flat water will seem positively tame; you'll probably want a V10S for the rougher days. I was just out today in 25 mph winds with 1.5 foot white-capping waves in the SEL, having a blast (created my own "take your boat to work" day). I do have an SEI if I want a bit more stability, but if things really get hairy I opt for the OC1 (like Kwolfe). Plus I like the cross-training workout of the canoe paddle (really helps my kayaking stroke to put time into the canoe). As a side note, my OC1 (a Scorpius XS) is so incredibly light (around 20 lbs fully rigged) that people literally laugh when they pick it up the first time. Lots of fun!

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4 years 1 week ago #27328 by fredrik
looks like we all agree on this. It is a time for mastering the range of surfskis and another time for trying to master the sea. Red Pepper is very right, the "stable barge" will change over time. I usually paddle my Elite S in the ocean but sometimes I paddle a Vault or Evo II they are both great fun.

hang loose!

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4 years 1 week ago - 4 years 1 week ago #27351 by Aurelius
Yesterday was my third time out in the SEL G2, and it was another clear improvement over the previous day. My leg drive is now back to 100%, thanks to improvements in balance and adjusting the position of the foot board to permit full rotation. Balance issues are still frustrating my efforts to apply maximum power to my paddle strokes, but at modest speeds (5-6 mph), everything seems to be under control. There were magical moments when the side to side rocking while paddling was completely absent, during which I could have balanced a tea cup on the hull without spilling a drop. That needs to become the rule rather than the exception, so my priority for the time being will be to work on my technique at slow to modest speeds and not worry about adding power until I'm as comfortable in the SEL as I was in the SR. For a "speed junky" like me, that's going to take a lot of will power!

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4 years 1 week ago - 4 years 1 week ago #27352 by kwolfe
Sounds like you are making good progress. I had my V8 out this morning (in the dark) and had some good results. I did a little over 5 miles at an average of about 6.8mph. My top speed was 8.8mph.

I bring this up because some folks caution that getting an unstable ski could ruin your technique. In my case, I have found that the opposite is true. Since the V14 is so unstable, it really commands good form in order to stay dry. So my time on it has actually help improve my catch and the timing of my leg drive. The end result is faster times on both skis with less fatigue.

I won't be able to get back on the V14 until earlier next week but I do enjoy the challenge. If I could put 75% of the power down I can to get the 8.8 out of the V8, I would fly on the V14. That's the goal. For us flatwater rats, speed is what creates the excitement. I don't have an ocean.

Oh on a side note. My girlfriend (who is awesome) got me hydroskin 1.5 pants for my birthday. Used them this morning and I must say that they are great! they really do fit them to be paddled in the way the butt is cut. Also, I like not having super tight elastic around the waste. The drawstring is perfect.

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4 years 1 week ago #27353 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: Sounds like you are making good progress. I had my V8 out this morning (in the dark) and had some good results. I did a little over 5 miles at an average of about 6.8mph. My top speed was 8.8mph.


Jeezus, you're really flying on that thing.

I bring this up because some folks caution that getting an unstable ski could ruin your technique. In my case, I have found that the opposite is true. Since the V14 is so unstable, it really commands good form in order to stay dry. So my time on it has actually help improve my catch and the timing of my leg drive. The end result is faster times on both skis with less fatigue.

I won't be able to get back on the V14 until earlier next week but I do enjoy the challenge. If I could put 75% of the power down I can to get the 8.8 out of the V8, I would fly on the V14. That's the goal. For us flatwater rats, speed is what creates the excitement. I don't have an ocean.


You make a good point about elite skis requiring good technique. Bad technique is what makes you lose your balance and fall out.

I'm about an hour's drive from the ocean. It's so much more convenient to just drag my kayak a couple of feet to the lake, hop in and go. No hungry sharks in there, either.


Oh on a side note. My girlfriend (who is awesome) got me hydroskin 1.5 pants for my birthday. Used them this morning and I must say that they are great! they really do fit them to be paddled in the way the butt is cut. Also, I like not having super tight elastic around the waste. The drawstring is perfect.


I've used my Lycra cycling shorts several times, but they have some padding on the bottom which soaks up water like a sponge. Not ideal. I may have to look into getting some real paddling shorts.

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4 years 1 week ago #27354 by red_pepper
If you're really wobbly on a ski and you're constantly making changes to your stroke to stay upright, then it can screw up your stroke. Probably more of a concern when the water gets a bit rougher. On pure flat water you're less likely to compromise your stroke and, as noted, you may be forced to improve your stroke with the less stable ski (although paddlers in unstable skis tend to reduce their rotation because it destabilizes them a bit more).

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4 years 1 week ago #27355 by kwolfe
You are absolutely right pepper. If you can simply balance in the ski, then doing anything will be difficult. Funny about the rotation though. I found that in past, I was over rotating in the V8. My paddle exit was too late. The V14 has forced me to concentrate on good leg drive timing and enough rotation to get me set up for the next catch.

Aurelius,
I hate you! In a really nice jealous way. ha I wish I lived that close to the water. The closest thing I have is about 15min which is the river, but it's been to shallow for a couple of months now so I drive anywhere from 25-45 min to get into deeper water.

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4 years 1 week ago #27356 by red_pepper
You're not alone, Kwolfe! The closest big water for me is a 3 hr drive to either Lake Michigan or Lake Erie. Otherwise, lots of lakes and rivers anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes away. Consequently, I'm primarily a flat-water paddler (although I try to hit the bigger lakes when the winds are blowing to build my rough water skills and have a bit of fun). About twice a year I get to paddle on the ocean. But I can't complain - at least I have water on which to paddle! :)

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4 years 1 week ago #27357 by Aurelius
Well, I may have to take back what I wrote earlier. I thought I'd do some paddling in the lake this afternoon, but high winds suddenly made their appearance, kicking up waves and blowing my SEL all over the place. Realizing that things weren't about to get better, I abandoned the SEL for my trusty Epic V7. That 50 lb plastic barge wasn't at all bothered by wind and waves. Several times I had it going at 7 mph, which takes a LOT of energy in this boat, but it was at least .5 mph faster than I could manage in the SEL in these conditions. What a workout. My back muscles and quads feel like they would after an hour at the gym. :pinch:

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4 years 6 days ago #27372 by kwolfe
I totally agree with the speed to tired ratio! 5 miles at 6.8mph on my V8 and I'm pretty darn tired. The same speed on the V14 is not nearly as difficult to maintain. Given....I am mentally more tired on the 14 and my core muscles feel a little more tired, but the shoulders, back and legs still have more to give.

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4 years 6 days ago #27374 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: I totally agree with the speed to tired ratio! 5 miles at 6.8mph on my V8 and I'm pretty darn tired. The same speed on the V14 is not nearly as difficult to maintain. Given....I am mentally more tired on the 14 and my core muscles feel a little more tired, but the shoulders, back and legs still have more to give.


I'm getting a little concerned at this point that the amount energy I would have to put into my strokes to maintain a decent speed (7 mph +) would be limited, not by muscle strength, but by the amount of abuse my body can handle. Going that fast in the V7 already causes considerable pain in my forearms and fingers. Even if I were to double the strength of my back muscles, I don't see how the rest of my body can tolerate that level of abuse for the duration of a 5 mile race. Extrapolating from my experience with the SR, I should be able to go at least 1 mph faster in the SEL than I can in the V7 with the same power output, but that would still take me up to only ~ 8 mph, and once again, it wouldn't be a speed I could maintain due to the beating it inflicts on my hands and forearms. I don't know elite paddlers manage it. I imagine they must be able to generate two or three times the power I do, but how do their joints handle that kind of stress?

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4 years 5 days ago #27385 by RedBack
Hey Aurelius,

It sounds suspiciously like you might have the shaft of your paddle in a "death grip".

Is your top hand completely relaxed during its forward motion? The fingers should be almost pointed and the shaft should pivot between your forefinger and thumb.

During the catch and power phase you should still try to keep the hand and forearm as relaxed as possible and let the paddle find its own path through the water. Some paddlers try to "muscle" the blade along an unnatural path and as a consequence, end up with sore hands and forearm "pump" where the forearm literally becomes swollen and eventually fails.

Changing to a more stable paddle works for some people. For others, just relaxing does the trick.

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4 years 5 days ago #27386 by kwolfe
I agree. I keep my top hand loose but not open. During normal speeds, I don't really firm up my grip until the tip of the blade has entered the water. Then the grip, arm and lats all contract to get a good catch. Even then though, I only grip the paddle enough to keep it from falling out of my hand. This does let the paddle "move" in the water a bit.

Now if I am sprinting, all hell breaks loose and i grip the paddle hard the minute I'm about to enter the water.

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4 years 5 days ago #27387 by Aurelius

RedBack wrote: Hey Aurelius,

It sounds suspiciously like you might have the shaft of your paddle in a "death grip".

Is your top hand completely relaxed during its forward motion? The fingers should be almost pointed and the shaft should pivot between your forefinger and thumb.

During the catch and power phase you should still try to keep the hand and forearm as relaxed as possible and let the paddle find its own path through the water. Some paddlers try to "muscle" the blade along an unnatural path and as a consequence, end up with sore hands and forearm "pump" where the forearm literally becomes swollen and eventually fails.

Changing to a more stable paddle works for some people. For others, just relaxing does the trick.


During recreational paddling, I do almost exactly what you're describing. I consciously relax my grip as soon as the blade leaves the water and only reapply pressure to the shaft right before the catch. Even then, I typically "hook" the paddle shaft with my fingers rather than squeezing it. This has made it possible to paddle for hours at a relaxed pace without hand fatigue setting in. The blade has a natural tendency to travel away from the hull when I pull it back, so I just let it choose its own path.

But when trying to go fast, everything changes. The amount of resistance at the blade increases exponentially and my paddling cadence rises, so keeping a relaxed grip on the shaft isn't really possible for me. At an easy pace of say 5.5 mph, the amount of force I have to apply to pull the blade back feels like 25 lbs, which requires only a loose grip. But at 7 mph in my V7 (or 8 mph in the SR), the amount resistance feels more like 50 lbs. I can keep that going for a short while, but then my hands begin to tire out. It's not just a matter of muscle fatigue, but also the way the shaft bites into my fingers. If you have access to a gym or weight set, try carrying a 50 lb dumbbell. Even though lifting 50 lbs shouldn't be any problem for the average sized male, you'll notice the crushing force the bar is applying to the soft tissue in your fingers. That pressure is what paddling at high speeds feels like to me.

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4 years 5 days ago #27388 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: Now if I am sprinting, all hell breaks loose and i grip the paddle hard the minute I'm about to enter the water.


When you're paddling that hard, do you experience the sort of pain and muscle fatigue in your hands that I've described?

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4 years 5 days ago #27389 by kwolfe
I hate to say but I don't really. Although I will say that between paddling my ski, OC1, SUP and lifting 4-5 times per week (for years), my grip has gotten pretty good just by default. My hands do get tired, but no real pain or discomfort.
I went back and watched one of your videos and I noticed that I do hold the paddle closer to the blade than you do which reduces the leverage. That would definitely contribute. I also have a bit more vertical stroke which keeps everything closer to the body which also reduces the lever factor.

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4 years 5 days ago #27390 by Aurelius

kwolfe wrote: I hate to say but I don't really. Although I will say that between paddling my ski, OC1, SUP and lifting 4-5 times per week (for years), my grip has gotten pretty good just by default. My hands do get tired, but no real pain or discomfort.


I used to do some pretty serious lifting when I was in my 20's, but even when wearing leather lifting gloves, I still experienced a lot of discomfort from the amount of pressure the bar would put on the soft tissue in my fingers. It's hard to compare a set of deadlifts, which only takes a minute to complete, to paddling for an hour at racing speeds, though.

I went back and watched one of your videos and I noticed that I do hold the paddle closer to the blade than you do which reduces the leverage. That would definitely contribute. I also have a bit more vertical stroke which keeps everything closer to the body which also reduces the lever factor.


I keep my hands about 6" from the end of the shaft after watching videos of Olympic K1 racers and trying to duplicate what they do. I've experimented with moving my hands further out, but it just doesn't feel right.

As for the blade entry angle, I've gone back and forth with that, trying to determine which works best. I began with a very steep angle of entry, but it didn't increase my speed one bit compared to a shallower angle of entry, and continually lifting my arms that high really tired out the muscles in my neck and shoulders. It also slowed down my cadence, because the steeper the angle of entry, the more you have to rotate the paddle to put each blade in the right position for the catch. The greater the angle of paddle rotation, the more time and energy it takes to perform each stroke.

By the way, if you watch videos of K1 racers, you'll notice quite a bit of variation when it comes to blade angle entry. One paddler used such a steep angle that his top hand was above his head just before the catch. At the other end of the spectrum was a paddler who kept his top hand right at chin/chest level throughout the race. These are seasoned professionals, so I have to assume that whichever technique they're using is the one they and their trainers have determined works best for them.

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