Appreciate racing advice for 200, 400, 800M Sea Kayaking (not Surfski)

Hi All, I’ll be racing in some friendly, non-professional inter-club races for the first time. These are with sea kayaks, not surfskis, for 200, 400 and 800 meters. I have access to a carbon racing wing paddle, though wish I had more practice time with it - it’s definitely optimized to keep you going straight forward and not for maneuvering.

I’m 175 lbs 6 ft tall and in pretty good shape, and I’ve done well in running endurance but never focused much on sprints. I have much more experience with long kayak trips and no experience with races. Appreciate any advice for:

  1. The best way to warm up and for how long?
  2. The start - start very fast or accelerate to speed?
  3. Cadence versus power for 200, 400 and 800M?
  4. Any other tips?

I have an excellent book on the subject, Canoe Racing, the Competitor’s Guide to Marathon and Downriver Canoe Racing by Peter Heed and Dick Mansfield.

I’m willing to part with my copy for an appropriate price.

KayakingOtter, I’m interested in answers to your questions. I don’t race, but I always paddle at moderate effort for about 30 minutes, before increasing effort to a cruising speed. When paddling with others, I’ll typically mention his or her starting speed is a little high and that warming up is important. The advice is typically ignored, and on the return leg the other person has little reserves.

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You’ll need to perfect your stroke with the wing paddle and be explosive off the starting line. If you don’t have a great stroke with the wing paddle you will not be competitive. In my humble opinion, warming up is overrated. Get on the water early to loosen up, but don’t overthink it. Save your energy for the race. Those are short races. You’ll have to give it everything you’ve got the entire race. Train at distances at least 3x the distance of your race at a fast…but not racing…speed. Do that 2 or 3 times a week for at least 6 weeks in advance of your race and you’ll be prepared. Don’t worry about cadence. That will depend upon the size of your blades, your overall strength and conditioning, and the width/efficiency of your boat. Yes, the size of the blades matter and a few cm squared make a huge difference. I prefer large blades in short races, but your shoulders will have to be ready for those forces. BTW, who the heck does sprint races in sea kayaks, LOL?

I hope I am not too late.

All of these races are sprints, the 800M is less than a half of a mile.

  1. Just get you heart up to speed, it will amazes you how much energy you can burn in even the 200M.

  2. Neither, some folk will bomb the start and run out of gas, some will sandbag and not be able to catch up. If you know what you can do, do it steadily through the first two, unless you are second or third in the race. Then you have to decide.

  3. Always cadence. The paddle is a tool and you have to make that tool work for you. If you ever worked a hammer you learned the difference between swinging a hammer and pushing a hammer. If you push a hammer you will wear out quickly, if you swing a hammer and let it do its job, you can do it all day.

  4. If it isn’t laned off, see how the swells are running and try to use them to your advantage, try to work the swells at about a 45 degree angle to add surf energy to your boat.

Good luck

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