First surfski race--need advice!

I am a beginner surfskiier (Carbonology Cruze) who is beginning to train for my first race on March 8. There are two distances available—10K and 5K. Any advice of which distance I should choose?
Any other race/training advice is appreciated as well :smile:
Thank you!

I’d say the 10K it’s really only 6mi and you will get a better idea of how to pace yourself and the boats will be more spaced out at the end.
The 5K will be almost a sprint.

That’s what I was wondering about…the 5k being a sprint…and with the Cruze being a beginner ski it’s definitely on the slower side…

When I first started racing anything my goal was just not finishing last…:sunglasses:

I think some will depend on the distance paddling you have been doing/will be doing between now and the race. Are you doing at least 5 mile paddles at decent effort levels? If no, then you may want to do the shorter one.

Thag actually sounds like the PERFECT first goal!!

I agree. I regularly do four miles and was planning on doing my first long paddle today. However, the weather didn’t cooperate.

The best way to be ready for any race is to train for a distance longer than the races you wish to compete in. Practice, practice, practice.

That is for the serious races. I raced a bunch of races tied to festivals and such. The people that do them are not prepared for trued racers.

I did a race in Safety Harbor and, out of fifty participants, I was the only one to sign up for the 10k.

A win is a win is a win…:sunglasses:


Craig…are you local to Tampa Bay?! I live in the Dunedin/Clearwater area.

@grayhawk and @CraigF…any advice on how to pace yourself? I’ve done a half marathon before where I started out at a conservative pace and then pushed harder the second half. Do you people use this same strategy in a ski race?

Pretty sure I want to do a 10k at this point…my ski isn’t cut out for a sprint.

Yes, I live up in North Tampa. I also spent 9 years racing with FCPA (Florida Competition Paddlers Association), regretfully I have fallen from the grace of Na-maka-0-Kaha’i.

I had a squamish cell cancer removed from my arm and they nicked a nerve. I lost my cadence. That is what you need, a cadence you can hold on to for the race. There is no need to try and muscle your way, you can’t. Consistency is key and your ski will build speed as you do.

One thing you can only get at a race is the rush of a mass start. They can get pretty intense if you aren’t ready. If you are going over to Sebastien on 3/8 the start could be very intense, there are some very aggressive skiers on the East Coast.

FCPA is doing their Crisp Park Race on 2/15. The park is just south of the corner of 37 Ave. NE and Poplar. Might be good training, FCPA races are cheap, $10.00 for a year’s membership and John used to charge $5 for food after it. Don’t be ashamed if they blow you out of the water, they are the cream of the racers around here.

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A GPS set on your speed is a good coach and taskmaster. Great for both practice and while racing.

@CraigF, I’m so sorry to hear about your arm. Do you still paddle for fun?
Thank you for all the local info; it’s very helpful. I have heard conflicting reports about the Crisp Park Race. Some people say it’s a more technical course and others say it’s pretty straightforward. What’s your take on it?

@grayhawk, yup, I currently use one!

The Crisp Park Race can be a nightmare if you don’t pay attention to landmarks. It runs through residential canals a lot of the way, so you have to count which one to turn at. There are also, almost always, standing waves where the canals hit Bayou Grande.

Bayou Grande is very shallow except for a dredged power boat run along the west side. The problem with that is that it is a powerboat run.

You might be able to use your GPS to flag the course for you, that would almost make it easy.

I have a couple of recreational woodstrip boats my girlfriend and I enjoy. I also bought a fly-tying vise last winter and have using those has taken too much time. I have planned to get back in a fast boat but life, and weeds in the garden, keep getting in the way. These cold fronts dropping by every weekend haven’t helped either.

@CraigF, great to know, thank you. I am absolutely horrendous at directions and easily get lost so this is a good “heads up”.
I’m planning on paddling the course this Sunday with someone who knows the route very well! We will see how it goes.

Congrats on taking the racing plunge. You’re going to love it! Paddle sports people are a great bunch. I have no doubts you’ll be hooked.

Here’s my two cents:
there’s not a lot of time left, but if you have general fitness–it should transfer. if I were in your position at this time–this is what I would do:

  1. use a heart rate monitor and do a dedicated Zone 3 aerobic work . Build 30 minutes to 2 hours. once or twice a week.
  2. add a speed endurance workout at least once a week. something like= 10 seconds full on with 10 seconds rest, then 20/20, then 30/30 then 40/40, then work yourself back down in the same increments. rest for at least five minutes after a set and then repeat. I’d start with two sets and build weekly.
  3. Technique, technique and more technique. In this sport the number one antagonist is drag from the water. Your ability to propel yourself is far more about efficiency of stroke than anything else. Watch videos. Talk with locals. make videos of yourself if you can.

Distance–some people call 5k a sprint, but I personally don’t agree with that term.
I’m involved with sprint kayaking, and 5k at maximum heart rate is haaaaarrd. I personally think 5k is a good start. The downside is that you may not have much if any competition. If some females show up they will likely race the 10k and may be very experienced. One thing about our sport is that there isn’t a vetting protocol. I’ve literally raced Olympians as a noob. 5k will likely be where you’ll find the beginners, the rest will gravitate to the 10k. I think you could go either way here. The pace you’ll use in a 5k is the same you’ll use in a 10k.

Pacing: this works best if you know yourself, which it sounds like you do. Get to know your aerobic pace. You’re going to want to go slightly above this pace at first. Try to relax and focus on your technique. You want to be able to start solid for about 10-20 seconds and then settle in before the burn catches you and shuts everything down.
Everyone is a little different with how they process lactic acid buildup so it may be best to go with “feel” rather than heart rate for your first race.

But if you do use heart rate, here’s a case in point from one of my races last year:

Max Heart rate= 191
Aerobic (perpetually sustainable given sustenance)= 139-156
My 5k/10k race pace should be between 157-180
with a maximum heart rate sprint-out at the end.

The last race of the year for me was about 7 miles. I stayed in the 173 range for the entire race until the end when I punched up to the 180’s.
This is highly dependent on your V02 Max. For some people, they wouldn’t be able to hold that high of a HR for that long before they started to shut down, for others, they could blast right through that and do far more. This is the part that you’ll have to find out for yourself if you haven’t already from other sports. It will also improve as your fitness improves and good technique will play into it as well.

Which event is March 8th? I think I’ll be down that way for the Florida Cup in April.

Wow, this is all super helpful. Thank you!
That’s absolutely insane that newbies race against Olympians! I can’t think of any other sport where that happens…
The event on March 8th is Sebastian Paddle Fest in Sebastian, FL. I’m not 100% that I’m going to do it. There’s a smaller, local race on Feb. 15th in St. Pete that I’m thinking about doing. I’m paddling the course with a much more advanced paddler this Sunday and then I’ll probably make my decision. I’m someone who errs on the side of caution and likes to be ultra prepared for anything I do, but a lot of people have told me to take the plunge and do a small local race.
You have some interesting points about the 10k vs. 5k. A lot of the advice has favored the 10k…

I am also a novice Surfski paddler. I did my first race in CA last year and came in almost dead last. I was battling it out with a 8 year old girl for the finish line. I capsized in the first 200 feet off of the starting line in the excitement of the start. Ive learned to pace myself, at the start. Its surprising how if I keep a steady pace I will reel-in some of the jack rabbits from the start line. I train with paddles that are not more than 3 hours long but I try to keep my speed up to the rate that would be a good average speed for my normal mid-pack finish. The races I am doing now are 14 to 15 nautical miles so much longer than I train for. Some how once I have the muscle memory of the cadence from my 2-3 hour training, I can still maintain that for longer races and keep up my average speed. Like some of the others have pointed out, paddling technique will go a long ways to make you fast. I try to work on that and stay in good form. As I get tired and things start falling apart and my speed wains, just sitting up and getting back in form will speed me up. Have fun!!