In the 25-odd years that I’ve been involved in competitive paddling, many things have changed. One thing certainly hasn’t: the ego-driven idea that anyone who is paddling a stable boat is somehow inferior. The reality is that most K1 paddlers in South Africa are paddling boats that are actually too unstable for them.
If a paddler can’t put 100% of their pulling power into a forward stroke because of the need to use some energy to maintain their balance, the paddler is in the wrong boat. This applies to flat-water (which includes windy conditions and the mess at the start of a race), surf-skiing as well as river-racing. It is just about impossible to establish good paddling technique if a paddler is not 100% comfortable with the (in)stability of the boat. When it comes to river paddling, it is just as impossible to learn different paddling strokes and techniques if stability is in question.
In the SA racing fraternity, there has always been a big drive to get paddlers into the fastest, slinkiest K1 as quickly as possible. In addition to that, most paddlers tend to do river races using similar boats to those they use in flat-water time trials. This makes zero sense. A more stable boat means better control, which means less swimming, better safety, less boat-breaking and also more fun….
READ MORE from page 44 is Issue 2 of 2018: https://issuu.com/thepaddlemag/docs/tpm_2_2018