Did some more work on technique. I took my front camera, my Motionize setup, and an idea of trying some different paddle lengths. So first off, I started off at my normal 214cm but with a tiny bit of pause to drive the paddle in before I start pulling and a mental emphasis on the catch. That actually seemed to help a lot. Then I tried some different paddle lengths. I have to say that I discovered some things:
The mental change made a lot more difference than the paddle length
Even though I changed the paddle length in Motionize before each test, the “Paddle depth” indicator on Motionize was useless. I’d increase my paddle length by a centimeter, and it would tell me that my paddle depth had decreased by 16 centimeters. So much for using it to test my catch.
I’ve had two people point out this week that I’m *still* not getting my paddle blade fully in the water. I’ve been working on this for years now, and it just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I’ve tried lengthening my paddle, shortening it, doing drills and just trying to be aware of the problem. I’m getting worried about it.
Another problem was pointed out in this Saturday’s video: I’ve got an asymmetry in the way my top hands come across my face. Compare:
Time to break out Motionize and find some quiet water to concentrate on my technique, I think.
So after my last update I sent my boat off to get fixed. It came back looking amazing – you can’t tell where it was damaged, either by color or by texture. John at ateammarineandsupply.com did an amazing job. But I paid a high price for it – $500. More than I would have liked, but it’s my best boat.
In the meantime, I’ve been paddling my V12. When I bought the V12, I knew it was a bit old and beat up, but I wanted something that would challenge my balance. Also, it had an overstern rudder option, so I thought it might be useful for inland races, especially in shallow waters. And I used it in a few races in 2015. But in 2016, I ended up not using it in races, in spite of using it for much of my early spring training. The only race I did in 2016 that I’d done in the V12 in 2015 was the week before the Canadians, and I had a theory that I wanted more time in the V10 Sport. I didn’t use it for other races that I’d thought about using it for like Round the Mountain because I just haven’t managed to handle it in waves yet, and I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like on race day. I’d still like to get some time in it in waves with the hope of eventually being able to use it in smaller waves.
But here’s the problem: the boat is in much worse shape than I thought it was when I bought it. I don’t know if I just didn’t recognize how horrible it was when I bought it, or if has deteriorated since I got it. As well as the cracks on the seam line that I knew about beforehand, I’ve noticed a bunch of soft spots on the hull, especially where the boat rests on my V-racks. I had it up on my shoulder today and I could hear the gel coat cracking as it bounced when I walked. Not surprisingly, it leaks like a sieve. But on the other hand, I like the fact that my V12 is a beater that I don’t mind dropping in the mud while spring paddling. It also has the earlier bow shape that doesn’t pick up weeds quite as badly as my V10 Sport (the 2014 V10 Sport redesign changed the bow shape to make it sweep up every weed in the world), which means it might be better at the Seneca Monster race if I do it this year. And the overstern option might be good in that race as well.
I don’t want to spend the money to fix it – if fixing a few small cracks on an otherwise pristine boat was $500, fixing all the multitudinous problems with this pig-in-a-poke will cost way more than what it’s worth. Ideally, I should probably get a replacement (used) boat. But what boat? The fact that I’ve been unable to master this boat in anything more than a single boat wake is bothersome. I’d like something that’s faster than the V10 Sport, but I’d also like something I wouldn’t be afraid to use on the Bay (at least before the motorboats come out to play).
But the other problem is that I’ve got my heart set on a better computer this spring, so I don’t have money for a new boat. So I think the plan will be to keep using my V12 as a beater boat until it finally gets an irreparable hole, then look for a used V12, V10 or maybe something else. According to Wesley’s surf ski reviews the Stellar SEL or Fenn Spark might be as fast as a V12 but more stable. So might the new redesign of the V12 but I bet the new one has the weed sucker bow as well as being more expensive.
In the continuing tension between “wanting my lovely boat to stay lovely” and “wanted my boat to look like I’ve gotten good use out of it”, I’ve been leaning towards the “looking used” end of the spectrum. But I think I’ve gone a bit too far this time. Sometime in the last couple paddles, I’ve put some nasty looking cracks in my lovely Epic V10 Sport. I’m betting it’s the time from my video the other day where I paddled amongst ice floes. My local Epic dealer is closed this month, but I’m thinking I should probably keep it off the water until somebody can evaluate it and see how extensive and expensive the repair is going to be.
So while I hadn’t planned to start paddling the V12 while the river was still roiling and boiling like it is now, I guess it’s the best choice for now. Except when I went to get it from the rack, I discovered it was absolutely full of water. I couldn’t lift it, it was so bad. I wasn’t sure where the water was getting in until I turned it on its side and water started pouring out from the water line seam. Shit, I knew this boat was in bad shape, but I didn’t realize it was so bad. After spending some time pouring water out the drain hole, I picked it up and realized there were chunks of ice bouncing around inside the hull as well. Hopefully, those will melt over the next day or so.
My last option, and it’s not a great one either, is to get my ancient “Fat Oscar” V10 Sport back from the guy I loaned it to. I call it “Fat Oscar” because it was the first generation of V10 Sport and the cockpit “bucket” is hugely wide. Even at my heaviest, I’ve had to put pads on the insides to keep from wallowing around. Oscar Chalupsky is infamous for how much weight he used to gain in the off season and then lose in time for Molokai, so the joke is he designed it when he was at his heaviest. This one is “club layup”, meaning it’s heavy as hell, but also more robust than my “ultra layup” light but injured boat. It also has the drawback that it has an open venturi drain rather than the kick open scupper drain that the new boat has. Which means either I’ll be sitting with a crotch full of freezing cold water, or I could cover the drain with duct tape and hope it holds until I finish.
With the GoPro mounted on my lovely Jim Smith bow mount, I took it out on the Genessee River to see how it looks. And I have to say, I think it looks awesome (ok, as I write this it’s only a few minutes after I uploaded it to YouTube and YouTube is only showing it in 360p, but trust me when I say it looks great in 4K). The GoPro doesn’t have image stabilization in 4K, but on a flat water trip like this, it doesn’t need it. And I love the position – the Jim Smith mount puts it just at about the right height, and it feels firm.
Everything I used to bore people on newsgroups and mailing lists with, now in one inconvenient place.