Tybee Island race
A couple of weeks ago I did the tybee island race. I chose the 6 mile race. I brought my epic 18x. Because they didn’t have enough women racing, they put me in the open class race with under 50 men. I was in the most competitive class because my boat was 18 feet long. I think there were three solo women in the class. I wouldn’t have minded racing in the open class, but I thought it was bizarre that they put me in a class with men. I think I did beat some of the men and I was the first woman to come across the line in a solo boat.
Ironically, my friend who reluctantly decided to race her eddyline night hawk (16’ 6’) came in about 11 minutes after me and got first prize in the under 18’ boats. I thought it was funny and I had to laugh at myself for taking these races so seriously. My friend had a gret time and I think she’ll probably come along for more races.
I enjoyed the race and probably enjoyed hanging out in Savannah during the weekend even better. They gave out a cool t-shirt too!
I like the sprint boat community’s racing syle. Everyone has the same spec boats (except beginners in training boats). Beginners are expected to move up to a more tippier boat. They have consistency in their age classifications and they don’t mind if only one person races in a category. They give all top three racers in each classificatin a medal and everyone seems happy!
Tybee Island race
I’m still lobbying for beach cruiser and MTB classes at Tour de France. NYC marathon needs a penny loafer class as well.
I’m personnally amused by the people that go out of their way to purchase the fastest racing hull that will just fit into a certain spec that was meant to entice rec racers. Then they whine about their choice of racing hull having to race against “faster” hulls. No matter how the spec is defined, if people are buying then builders are going to build right to the bitter edge of the spec to the point of making the spec absurd.
Some racers are going to play the never ending gear head game of buying new boats all the time and other people are going to avoid the class all together. I’d say this has come to pass already.
has new gear every year and everything is better than the last. I guess I don
t see where this is any difference..When I had my Epic Endurance everyone would come look at it and talk about what a fast boat it is,now the 18X has taken over.<br /> If you buy anything for sports and think in 5 or 10 years it will still be The Thing to have, your dreaming.<br /> I dont see kayaks as being any different. I don
t see why Efts,18X
s and Nemos(Marlin
s) should be punished because Qcc and other boat companys have not kept up with the times.
I think it still comes down to the motor, I enjoy beating someone in a faster boat, because I know I
m in better shape.<br /> In any sport we are always looking for the best and fastest thing. <br /> If you put Greg Barton in a sea kayak and he still beats everybody is that fair? He has.<br /> Im to old and to fat to paddle anything but my Eft
and really don
t want a tippier boat.<br /> I guess when I get beat by someone I dont think about the boat as much as I think the paddler is better than me.
true to a point
For surfskis and k1s the change from year to year is tiny. People still get caught up in the gearheadish amrs race but they’re fooling themselves if they think they’re getting much help by buying a new surfski or k1 every year.
The “sea kayak” class or touring class or whatever those classes are called had a lot more room for innovation within the specs so the niche has quickly been attacked by manufacturers. That phenomenon has stomped all over the intention of USCA to make the “sea kayak” and touring divisions everyman racing divisions. I don’t fault the manufacturers for catering to a market. I just fail to understand the paddlers that buy the fastest boat they can handle and then seem to want the race specs set so theirs is the fastest boat in its class. I much prefer a grading system or age group breakdowns.
USCA & Sound Rowers
At the annual meeting last January, the USCA eliminated the overall 10% width rule for Sea Kayaks, therefore boats like the QCC and the Kirton Inuk should now meet the other specifications for Sea Kayak and be able to race in that class.
As for the Sound Rowers specifications in the Blackburn, should all Surfskis be classified as Unlimited boats, are all Surfskis fast and narrow or are some of them more entry level and better suited to compete against Touring Kayaks? Are all Westside boats Unlimited (I used to paddle a Seafarer, seems like that’s more of a Sea Kayak than an Unlimited)? Same with ICF Kayaks, the Sound Rowers classify ALL ICFs as High Performance, that means a Dart is the same as an Eagle.
Whatever the classification, there will probably always be an optimum boat. The USCA and (I believe) the Sound Rowers are both volunteer organizations. If I were on the West Coast I would probably volunteer to work with the Sound Rowers. Since most of my racing ties into the USCA, that’s where I try to help out. The USCA classifications might not appeal to everyone, but it’s a simple set of guidelines that anyone can use quickly and easily to determine the classification of a kayak, come to the USCA Nationals sometime and you’ll realize how many boats are measured each day by the volunteer jiggers. At the time the USCA classifications were created, we wanted a set of guidelines to identify a multitude of kayaks that were entering the racing scene, looking back it would have been easier to have no classifications but simple separations by age and gender. Pam
Sound Rowers needs another class
Good to hear USCA FINALLY dropped the 10% overall rule for Sea Kayak. That was the part that made the least sense (well, after the overall length thing).
I like the Sound Rowers waterline based approach to kayak race classes (even though mixing actual waterline, 4" WL, and other methods is a bit casual). However, I think it’s pretty obvious they’re missing a class.
I’d add a “PK” class between FSK and HPK. Numbers something like below (which is if I leave SK and FSK as is. This is just a quick wag as I haven’t really looked at what boat would fall where as a result):
L:W ratio less than 9.25:1 are in the Sea Kayak class (SK)
Between 9.25:1 to 10.99:1 are in the Fast Sea Kayak class (FSK);
Between 11.00:1 to 12.99:1 are in the Performance Kayak class (PK) -[my suggested addition/split from HPK];
Greater than 13.00:1 are in the High Performance Kayak class (HPK).
SK-FSK-PK-HPK, Simple enough, right?
PK would be for kayaks like EFT, Nick Schade’s Mystery, entry level/crossover skis and spec skis. Probably a lot of multisports too. All Skis, multiports, and fast tourers are not created equal, or even close are not all “High Performance” on par with T-Bolts and open water race skis. These are hulls that are pretty clearly above FSK and also clearly below HPK performance. Not much in a true HPK is going to be below 13:1 anyway, so the big boy are unaffected, and the rest get a shot.
It think PK could be an interesting class. Similar to USCA Touring, but obviously based on WL in both L/W - not an arbitrary mix of overall/WL. Should be similar boats in either spec - except some spec skis might have to race Unlimited in USCA.
Having 4 classes puts the two systems on more equivalent footing too - with just smaller details to squabble about - and might help nudge USCA to an all WL L/W derived spec, or dare we even dream - one spec?
Just a thought.
The new USCA “Seakayak” is not Better
Your theory that all sports equipment evolves to be better and better does not apply to niche kayaks optimized to a particular class specification.
I think it is a pretty easy case to make that the old Epic Enduarnce 18 and QCC700, et al... are better all around boats than the new Epic 18X. This is before even discussing the wagging tail rudder. The obsolete sea kayaks are certainly more versatile through the wide variety of conditions one expects to see in a sea kayak. So if your criteria includes having a kayak better suited for everyday open water use by novice to intermediate paddlers, the 18X or Nemo are are arguably devolutions. For the all around paddler they are worse designs than those that came before them.
This is actually quite common in many sports. For instance sailboat racing specs have often lead to boats that are good at racing within that spec, but can be prettty awful boats in any other application. Look at the IOR class boats as an example from the 70's & 80's. Then the IMS rule came along and produced somewhat better all-around boats for a while until the designers figured out the intracies of the rule. Currently IRC is the newest rule and actually favors boats with better all-around cruising characteristics. So what we have seen is that it is not the sailboats that have evolved into better designs over time, but rather the rules have evolved to hopefully result in better boats.
We can also look at auto racing. The cars are optimized to be the fastest they can be within the specs required. They slowly "improve" over time to be more competitive. However, these cars are one trick ponies that would be impractical in the real world in real drivers hands. This is actually the approach the USCA has taken with their racing canoes and also their racing kayak classes. They have taken the typical sea kayak paddler out of the game in just a few years becasue the kayak needed to be competitive to race USCA has devolved into a less versatile craft.
So the real issue is what is the best philosophy for a leading sea kayak organization to take: Encourage inclusivity to the wide variety of sea kayaks already out there and also to come; or, exclusivity by defining a very specific seakayak that is only good for one thing, racing within that spec.
The USCA has unfortunately gone the exclusive route. You can look at how this philosophy has affected their canoe classes. They have created ridiculous canoe designs with strange bulges that serve no purpose other than to cheat a rule. You will not see the everyday paddler out in everyday conditions in a USCA racing canoe becasue they are poor designs for anything other than racing at USCA events. The USCA canoe designs are devolutions just like they have allowed to happen with their "sea kayak" specs.
It makes sense…
..now why I started to look for a S1-R - then thought about a EVO, then contemplated a LEGEND...only to buy none.
What about 2 classes, open and handicapped.
As a concept without details, why not have recognized paddler testers standardize their speed and then paddle a boat over a specified distance at no wind, and handicap the boats by time. For instance, if a boat takes 1 per cent longer over a distance, it gets a 1 per cent handicap. I know, there will be small variations due to how the paddler feels that day, small variations in fitness,etc. etc., but I think it would be a vast improvement over the existing systems. With computer technology many tests with different paddlers can be made of a boat and the results averaged. Then any boat can be raced, and the best racer should win.
It works good too
the system already exists- Developed by the Nantahala Outdoors Center.
I was going to set up a race on lake James in NC last year using it, but unfortunately I gave up the idea since I had to deal with three different bureacracies controlling the lake, and each one passed the buck to the other.
Handicapping the "non open" class is probably better than the current USCA method, but it's not practical. Someone would have to "handicap" 100 boats? 200? and that would take months/years to do, not to mention the expense of getting that handicapper to locations where he/she could handicap a particular boat. You'd probably also want a lightweight handicapper and a heavyweight handicapper too. Good idea, but just not practical. The Sound Rowers method is better than the USCA's.
But, for inclusivity and simplicity, I think it's simply best to devise a way to classify the paddler and not the boat.
Analogy to Cycling
Raced road, mountain and track for years, and the ranking system used by the USCF for road worked rather well, based on placings alone. Used to be they started with Cat IV (later added Cat V for more range) moving up to a Cat II for amateur. Cat 1 was Pro and merely needed a declaration from Cat II to move up, as most events compiled Cats 1 and IIs together. Problem is here that IMO, the equipment matters far less in cycling than kayaking, outside of the realm of pure climbing where light weight is paramount, or (TT)time trialing. where aero efficiency is key.
Placing in top categories in so many events automatically moved you up in the rankings, and you couldn't move up unless you had the credentials to do so. Remember one of my teammates shouting out in the middle of group sprint practice sessions; "All you Cat VIs go to the back, I got to show up for work on Monday!"
Mountain biking was looser; don't know if they've since adopted a system similar to the road. Here you could declare yourself whatever you wanted to be (Peter Pan syndrome: "I can fly!'). It was a process of by and large, natural selection (First Timer-Beginner-Sport-Expert-Pro). You could race Expert if you wanted to but would likely get your doors blown in and go up in a mushroom cloud from the pace and distance, or go away in an ambulance trying to keep the pace over the terrain. Conversely, you'd end up with some cherry pickers in the Sport class-guys that enjoyed getting the merchandise prizes and seeing their name on the top rankings, but yet, didn't feel 'ready'yet to go to Expert.
One of the reasons why the road cycling rankings worked fairly well is that all sanctioned races were USCF, and any unaffiliated events didn't count toward the rankings system. NORBA (and is?) was the quasi equivalent of this in mt. biking, but there were many more unaffiliated mt. bike races than there were unaffiliated road races.
What do you think about my…
… comments on Sound Rowers needing to add a class posted above?
Why all the complaining?
I’m not sure I understand the complaining about boat classifications at racing. Ok, I really do understand it, but there are so many races out there, one can find several choices for racing on any given weekend, every weekend, and if one does not like the classes offered at one particular venue then either ask the race organizers for change or choose another race to go to.
Everyone has their own criteria as to why they choose a particular race. Mine happens to be that there must be a women’s division. I can’t compete with the men but I enjoy competing with my peers, other women in similar boats. In 5 years of racing, each time I notice that a race does not have a women’s division, I call or email the race organizers and ask for one. I’ve only ever been turned down once in 5 years.
Now as far as the USCA specs go, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the solution to that. Get involved in the USCA and work for whatever change it is that you feel is appropriate. We have a very exceprienced and very active Kayak Committee. We do our best. We spend a lot of time on kayak specs, we don’t just throw a coin in the air and randomly make decisions. We are volunteers, we work hard, and if you do not like our results, then get off your behind and join us and properly voice your opinions in a forum that can actually make changes happen. There is a semi-annual USCA meeting at the USCA Nationals in August, show up and volunteer to do something other than complain. All are welcome to attend.
USCA Penn-Jersey Delegate
USCA Kayak Committee
I'm not sure what a typical sea kayaker is supposed to be but people with a mind toward racing started buying boats specifically for racing before the specs were set. No matter where the spec is set then boats are going to be built to better race within that spec at the likely expense of other characteristics. I don't see much of a way around that without a complex and burdensome handicapping system.
The Sound Rowers is a pretty equitable method but even within their fair LWL/BWL based specs there is room to push a boat design to the edge without tripping into the next class. Then people are going to tell themselves that they must have that next design in order to be competitive wether they're capable of using that potential speed or not. How many racers already own multiple boats? I think that USCA realizes that having multiple classes that include more stable classes makes racing more attractive to paddlers entering the sport but we should be realistic about what will happen to boats within each spec.
I was thinking of the ordinary guys in normal boats here, who own one boat they like that they do everything with. With the sound rowers classification, if I owned a Chatham 16 I would have to race a Force 5. Or a Nordcapp or a CD Extreme would have to race against an Epic 18 or a QCC 700. It is practically a foregone conclusion who will win such races with similar paddlers. A race is a personal test- to see how you compare to others, which you can really enjoy if you are being tested fairly. Then, win or lose, the results will mean something. I really do not think it would be that hard to handicap the boats either- as I suggested you can certify a lot of testers, whose characteristics could be quite different as they would be standardized, as long as they race enough to be consistent in their speed. For instance if arbitrarily paddler A in boat A in distance A is set as the standard, when paddler B got a different time in boat A, all his testing times in other boats would be adjusted proportionally. Once another boat is tested, it can be used by another paddler to standardize himself. These trials can be happening many places by many paddlers at the same time. It just needs someone who can select the testing paddlers and do the organization.
t-bolt is not an eft
I paddle both hundreds of miles per year. The eft is 2 in wider, 20 in shorter and one mph slower. USCA and blackburn have gotten rid of many dedicated racers such as myself. T-bolt is nothing like eft in big waves partly becuase the extra 2 ft of t-bolt makes it much harder to stay perpendicular to waves you are trying to surf. So the answer is a class for unlimited. A class for eft type boats. And a class for sea kayaks. All blackburn and usca have done is to make sure we will never race there again. That is excluding many dedicated racers. Hooray for folks at bay creek - rochester - for getting it right!
You are racers and I love and respect you as brothers and sisters but please do not tell me the eft is anything like t-bolt in big water. Too many 1,000 miles in the seat of each.
I like it Greyak
I like the idea of a fourth class in the Sound Rowers Specs. If more people came to races, the classes could get split up even finer.
The beauty of the Sound Rower’s approach is their waterline-dimensions-only philosophy. As long as you stick to that, then you can divide the fleet into as many classes as you want if the number of participants justified it. The finer the fairer.
I just recently heard the USCA dropped the 10% min beam overall requirement. That is a good step in the right direction. Now if they would just drop their length overall restriction they would be onto something really good: a spec based solely on waterline dimensions!
Then if they wanted to bring the regular sea kayaker back to the races they would make their waterline beam requirement to be at least 9.1% of the waterline length. Oh wait, that would be the Sound Rowers FSK spec.
I wish Bushnell was into computers I would love to see his take on this!!! I guess you would have censor most of it.
I guess the Eft has been around since 1995 and now everyone has decided its not fair.