Raw Beginner Story

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9 years 9 months ago #21571 by Sinkme
Raw Beginner Story was created by Sinkme
Why I did what I did is a longer story, full of personal limitations and misconceptions, so I’ll just talk about what I did and the results.
Starting Status:
Personal Stats: 58 yrs, 6’1”, 215 lbs (down from 230, 6 months earlier)
Kayaking Experience: 3 times, but 20 min arm endurance exercises in gym for a year.
Gear: 12 ft Walker Bay Tandem Inflatable, with fwd seat reversed for leg drive.
Garmin watch with speed, Max HR% tracking and display.
Location/Conditions: Seattle. Flat water in Lake Washington and it’s ship canal.
Begin:
Go out twice a week for an hour on the water with the goal of getting the muscles and tendons in shape without injury. Search the web regularly and read as much as possible. Best advice: train at 50 to 70% MHR. Worst advice: hyper extend shoulder at the catch for more power (one month down time for injury). Best video: Paddling with Zsolt. An older V8 was occasionally available for rental. No stability issues. An old V10S was also available. A good way to play “Marine Biologist” (impossible for me). My inflatable is a barge, so no stability training there.
I talked to the local surf skiers at the Cross Sound Race. Advice: get a wing paddle, now. Don’t go cheap. Feather it, now. Try as may skis as possible. Get a lesson. The SWIFT gang meets Wed night at Sand Point at 6:00. There is a web board for local discussion and coordination. I start stalking them.
Before the paddle twist was sorted out, my form was wildly random. Going straight was a constant problem. Most web advice on twist is justification, not engineering, just like listening to snow ski instructors (I once raced at the national level). You have to have a stable stroke angle first, then find the feather angle that works.
Blisters were a problem. In hindsight, carry a glove that stops blisters (some make blisters) and put it on when it starts to hurt, but before it blisters. Calluses are your friends.
Speed would jump about: 3.0 mph, then 3.4 as I got in a lucky good stroke or two. I could not figure out what I was doing different stroke to stroke.
Six months pass:
Weight 200 lbs. My average speed for an hour is up from a jumpy 3.0 mph to a more stable 3.8 mph. Form still feels a bit random. Went to first demo day at Deep Cove in Vancouver. The new V8 is no different for me than the old. Speed about 1.0 mph faster than the inflatable. The Big Ease is a little faster than the V8 with the same stability, but a tight fit in the hips. The new V10S is stable at rest, but I’m into the secondary stability every third stroke. I can feel that the speed wall is further out than for the Big Ease. Fit is fine (36” waist).
Back home I did stability training with those big balls, 3 times a week, 10 minutes at a time, feet eventually on a chair level with the ball. A month later at the next demo day I’m never into the secondary stability in the new V10S . It worked for me. Form still feels a bit random though.
I went to a two day forward stroke clinic. I do not look like Zsolt; ego crushed. Catch, leg drive, and arms all changed. It took three months to put all the pieces of my stroke back together again.
One year from start:
The locals don’t even notice me stalking them anymore. Training is now three times a week. My hour speed is at 4.3 mph in the inflatable. Form feels stable. I can now LOAD my strokes. My V10S Ultra should show up in a week or two. My Goal for the next 6 months in the V10S is an hour average speed of 6.0 mph and a solid remount.
After that: waves and a bit of racing
A big thanks to all the beginners on this site who talked about their experiences/questions and everyone who commented and included their weight and background.
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected], Kayaker Greg, Ric, uk_exile, Baldy-Old-Troll

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9 years 9 months ago #21572 by AR_convert
Replied by AR_convert on topic Raw Beginner Story
Thanks for sharing your story.

Will be interested to hear of your progress, I'm sure you'll see your speed jump substantially in the new ski.

Always looking for the next boat :)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto

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9 years 9 months ago #21573 by [email protected]
That's an awesome story... Well done!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #21574 by Newbflat
Replied by Newbflat on topic Raw Beginner Story
As a fellow Seattle paddler I have a suggestion. When you have a rudder choice for your new V10 sport, grab the Epic surf rudder for future use and get Don Kiesling (in Seattle) to make you large 8” weedless rudder. You NEED a weedless if your paddling on lake union or lake Washington. I never use my surf rudder in and around Seattle as there is so much crap in the water and it seemingly catches everything within 100 yards in any direction. . If you go with the Epic weedless set up your stuck with there system and weird rudder ( my opinion). Don can make you any kind of rudder you want but your restricted if you use the epic weed guard set up.

When you get your V10s take advantage of the warm water in the lakes and practice remounting .. A lot..like your life depended on it!... It won't be long before the water is cold and confidence in a solid remount will help your paddling and safty. When the water is 49° In January, your only going to have a few chances remount...

See you at sand point on wendsdays!

Bill

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
Last edit: 9 years 9 months ago by Newbflat.

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9 years 9 months ago #21582 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Raw Beginner Story
Hey! I think we've chatted a few times before the Wednesday nighters in the last year - noticed you had a wing paddle a couple of weeks ago and meant to say hi. Your inflatable is yellow, right?

Good choice on a V10s, as it sounds like your pretty committed and you should grow into that boat quickly. It really helps to get advice / coaching as ski paddling is very challenging, with a steep learning curve and many fundamentals that aren't discoverable or intuitive (a few of the locals, like Newbflat, have decades of wisdom to draw from) Progression is the name of the game; work on each one of the fundamental concepts at a time, and then just let them come together as you get more and more bucket time. Don't feel bad about swimming, we all swim from time to time, and it's just part of pushing yourself to get better.

Dawid Mocke publishes a DVD that could be really helpful as well. mockepaddling.com/product/ocean-abc-of-surfski/

Another helpful resource is the mykayakcoach.com channel on Youtube with Jimmy Walker

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9 years 9 months ago #21583 by Newbflat
Replied by Newbflat on topic Raw Beginner Story

Cryder wrote: Hey! I think we've chatted a few times before the Wednesday nighters in the last year - noticed you had a wing paddle a couple of weeks ago and meant to say hi. Your inflatable is yellow, right?

Good choice on a V10s, as it sounds like your pretty committed and you should grow into that boat quickly. It really helps to get advice / coaching as ski paddling is very challenging, with a steep learning curve and many fundamentals that aren't discoverable or intuitive (a few of the locals, like Newbflat, have decades of wisdom to draw from) Progression is the name of the game; work on each one of the fundamental concepts at a time, and then just let them come together as you get more and more bucket time. Don't feel bad about swimming, we all swim from time to time, and it's just part of pushing yourself to get better.

Dawid Mocke publishes a DVD that could be really helpful as well. mockepaddling.com/product/ocean-abc-of-surfski/

Another helpful resource is the mykayakcoach.com channel on Youtube with Jimmy Walker


Hang on there, while I have been paddling for decades I have only been ski paddleing for three years more or less and skis are a diffrent creature. . I'm just you basic lower intermediate ski paddling hack. I wouldn't want anyone to have the idea I am something other for fear they will actually see me on the water than it will all become self evident.

Bill

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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9 years 5 months ago #23056 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner II

I find that the voice of “Me” talking to Myself sounds a lot like Samuel L. Jackson. The first session, in my first purchased surf ski, an intermediate surf ski, went a lot like this, the whole time.

“Self, remind me again why THIS is a good idea.”

Well, I’m as fast as I was in a beginner ski, in cruise mode, with a little effort, in smooth water.

“Was it THIS MUCH not fun?”

No, but we will get better, I think, if that whole age/balance thing is not true.
“How IS that working out for us?”

Since then, 9 hours bucket time, 37 remounts (2 unplanned), paddle shortened by 6 cm, twist increased to 60 and the unrealized reinvention of the rudder centering gizmo (no holes drilled, warning: not too tight!) have insight the coveted “Mill Pond Master” level status. Finding a “mill pond” also helped. Shipping channels have, &%#@ shipping. I found 800 yards at SYC by 520 with no wakes. The 180 deg turns at each end in hindsight were a blessing.

What worked: use all the crutches. The goal is bucket time. Not speed, not waves, not talking to buddies while paddling. Focus requires the removal of distractions. I took my Mother inlaw out on a boat once. “Tipping” bothered her. “That’s what they do”, I grumbled to myself. With time I have smoothed out my own violent twitching correction to tipping. The Ball helped a lot. 10 minutes with feet at the same level as the top of the ball, wiggling a bit all the time. Now when the leg drive is in sink with the stroke I’m dead level. If not, I do better the next stroke. In the turns keeping leg drive helped along with good arm extension/torso twist at the catch.

5 hour of that, then the shipping canal wakes were just hard, not panic recovery twitching inspiring. I feel most stable now during the leg drive/stroke.

A note about my path. Don’t take mine as suggesting that this is the best in any way. The ideal path with the same goals as mine would be to have reliable access to a beginning ski right at the beginning with coaching every few weeks. I would have been a year ahead of where I am now. Even knowing that now, in hindsight with my circumstances, I would have had very few changes available to me from what I have done.

Do what works for you.

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9 years 5 months ago #23077 by jttiii
Replied by jttiii on topic Raw Beginner Story
Sinkme and Newbflat, I am a new Seattle ski paddler. Please tell me more about Wednesday night paddles. Magnuson Park? Also, Don Kiesling weedless rudder? I definitely need one of those. Any contact info?

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9 years 5 months ago - 9 years 5 months ago #23080 by Newbflat
Replied by Newbflat on topic Raw Beginner Story
Hi jttiii..

The Wednesday night Time Trial starts at waterway 18, a half mile north of Gas Works park. It has been starting at 6 pm but I think we decided to change it to 6:30 or 7 so traffic wasn't as much of an issue. It's a paddle In the dark with a warm up to the Ballard bridge and then a TT from the bridge back to the green buoy off Gas works park. It will head back to Magnuson park in the spring when the clock jumps forward. There hasn't been any activity for a few weeks, as all the holidays get in the way. I will try to be there this Wednesday night. Bring an all around boat light!

Best go to google groups and sign up for S.W.I F.T and get group paddling emails for Seattle and introduce yourself.

Don Kiesling the rudder meister and can be found at ....surfski (at) Gmail (dot) com.

What are you paddling and for how long?

Bill

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
Last edit: 9 years 5 months ago by Newbflat.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jttiii

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9 years 5 months ago #23095 by jttiii
Replied by jttiii on topic Raw Beginner Story
Bill,

Thanks for the reply. I paddled for ten or more years in sea kayaks about fifteen to twenty years ago and decided to take it up again. I was using a West Side Boatshop Wave Excel, and still have it but wanted to move to surfskis. I bought a V12 but found it a bit tippy after my long layoff. I then bought a V8 and I'm now getting my form back. I alternate it with the Excel and will try the V12 again when things warm up a bit. I'm 64 years old and average around 5.7 to 6 mph for 45 minutes to an hour. I need more time on the water. I'd like to come out on Wednesdays but have conflicts right now. Hopefully that will change. I live near Union Bay (UW) and paddle north to Magnuson and back. The milfoil is killing me, with many stops to clear the rudder, so I will contact Don. Thanks for the info, and I'll hope to see you out there.

John

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9 years 5 months ago #23100 by Newbflat
Replied by Newbflat on topic Raw Beginner Story
Jttiii, shoot me an email. Newbflat(at) gmail( dot) com
I just went out for a paddle with sinkme yesterday...
Tomorrow night is on so shoot me an email.

Bill

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)

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9 years 4 months ago #23473 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner III

As an Aero engineer in real life, I know the importance of angle of attack for wings. Early on I taped two tiny “bumps” on my paddle shaft where the L and R index fingers would feel them for the same blade pitch angle. If I feel them at the same place on my fingers for both L and R stroke, I have the same blade angle of attack for each stroke. The controlling hand (R for me) is where ever I set it and stays, of course. The R stroke then being very reliable in resistance during the stroke. The other (L stroke) has been all over the place, changing pitch with small changes in paddle angle, feather, rotation, reach at catch and the bending of the R elbow. This results in my biggest contributor to instability with an unreliable L stroke resistance unless the total geometry of the L stroke is fixed in stone. No wonder it takes YEARS to get good at this.

So, I decided to cheat.

During the reach for the L stroke I now bend my R elbow in to dial the bump up to my L finger. I then lock the L hand down for the stroke. It works like a charm. I still have to remember to match the L elbow bend for the R stroke to keep the blade sweep paths the same, but that has been easy. Speed jump has been a dramatic 0.5 mph (average for one hour at 80% MHr), which says how bad I was without this trick. My stroke is now more robust. I can adjust the amount of elbow bend needed by changing the feather, less feather for less bend.

I suspect this trick has been used before, just like the rudder centering gizmo I had “invented” and installed in December, until I did a search and saw a nice two year old picture of one.

Just passing 20 hours of bucket time now. I log all my SS practice sessions with time and notes, just like I use to do for flight time.

My goal of a 6.0 mph cruise speed by winters end looks reachable. I can't wait till I'm holding up the back of the pack with the real surf skiers.

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8 years 11 months ago - 8 years 11 months ago #24252 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner IV

OK, after 7 months and 58 hours of bucket time in an intermediate ski, I threw in the towel. I sold the V10S 2G and bought a V8 2G. I was getting better, but not as fast as I thought I could have and was certainly not having fun. It was challenging and interesting, but dinky little waves were preventing me from trying out even simple changes in form. Work and life left me with three windows a week to surf ski for an hour in and if the conditions were bad, that’s what I had. I spent a lot of time hiding from slop.

That got old.

Now, for the last week, every time I’ve gone out has been the worst conditions I’ve been in (for me) and it has been no big deal, easy really. Speed equal or better, it’s been hard to keep the heart rate down as I just want to go out and tear up the place.

So, skipping the beginner ski did not work for me. I think the two key factors were zero previous kayak experience and reliable smooth water conditions were unavailable (after work only). To be complete, I am required to mention that I just turned 60, but I’m in fine shape and if that is relevant I intend to remain in denial. Age is often used as an excuse to not try something and I’m not having that discussion. At 85, maybe.

Other lessons learned: a pair of remounts before a race improves stability and confidence a huge amount. 93% of max heart rate worked for me for an hour’s race pace. 52 practice remounts is not enough to remount on autopilot if you are highly fatigued.

Surf Skiers are nice and generous people. The take what you say and assume that you are not a jerk and did not intend to sound like one.

Just the kind of slack I need.
Last edit: 8 years 11 months ago by Sinkme.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto, jttiii

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8 years 6 months ago #25220 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner V

It has now been one year (three times a week) with a surf ski. Half of the year with an intermediate ski and then half with a beginner. Two years since beginning ANY kayaking.

The beginner ski made waves and light surfing possible. It is now fun to go out every time. Doing “out and backs” in bigger wind/waves is doable and now I can “try stuff”. It also allowed me to load up enough racing to get some elbow problems. The symptom was constant sore fore arms which when rested a week, lead to a sore elbow when gripping. Likely due to a bent elbow upon burying the blade. I’m now working on wrist exercises to strengthen the joint as well as the cause.

I have a slick way to track my race progress. I picked out a solid intermediate local skier (+5 year dedicated surfski racer) and calculate my % of his total time I trail him by. It shows a steady progression and could be used to justify stepping up to an intermediate ski if/when I close within 5%.

I finally got another lesson (yes, that makes two). An intense three day K1 clinic, on water and class room. Olympic class coaches with 50 kids on the path with a small handful of surf skiers tagging along. EXACTLY like the summer snow ski racing camps I went to growing up. I was appropriately put in with the group not old enough to drive. Wow! There were a ton of informational jems. Taking notes was essential. Not really internet stuff as they need to be applied in context to the person who needs them to be useful. LESSONS HELP!!!

Still ahead are 30 kt winter down wind runs in Puget Sound in 50 deg water. First, I think I’ll do a trip to the Columbia gorge in summer with an instructor trailing me.

That OSS:4 looks really sweet. Get behind me, Satan!

I paddle more like Zsolt than I use to…

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8 years 1 month ago - 8 years 1 month ago #26235 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner, end of that stage, what I wish I had known

Driving a surf ski for an hour, three times a week, for a year and a half, I can’t hide behind the “raw” beginner label anymore. Still LOTS of stuff I’ve never done or yet to be good at (shore break, what’s that?), but I’ve got a list of things I wish would have been easier to figure out.

Disclaimer: There are many paths to the same end. There are many good paddlers who got there with WAY different reasoning from each other. A very good reason to avoid “reason” in any story, but I can’t avoid it below. There are also vocabulary issues with my choice of words, but everyone else seems to have the same problem too, so, here it goes with the big ones.

WHERE to hold the &%#@ Paddle
1) Place hands ½ blade length in from the neck
2) The distance between your hands is what changes with body size
3) Paddle twist sets the non controlling hand water blade angle. Greater twist needed with a steeper angle of the shaft during the stroke

What muscles non kayakers don’t have, at all, really,
1) Hula girl hips for stability. Get that big ball for the office.
2) Torso twisting. Very careful gym work with good posture speeds this up.

Speed and beginner boats in flat (ish) water
1) At a 6 mph effort, it’s a 0.152704 mph difference (what?), if that.
2) People who surf all the time, get well above 6 mph all the time, so they notice a bigger difference.
3) Most low time “experienced” paddlers (+4 years) with “elite” boats struggle with stability
4) The beginners who went with beginner boats are prospering the most, dramatically

Strength/technique work
1) For strength, back off on the load or effort until you can do it 40 times, minimum. You want to last an hour, not 12 seconds.
2) You CAN NOT load up your stoke if you feel unstable. You CAN NOT tell if your stroke is stable unless you load it up.

Recent break through: the magic phrase (for some)

Likely all of you have heard to “spear the fish” at one time. For some it was a revelation, for others a curious consideration. I just had one that has cured my stroke “tripping” problem. While tired and under load the upper hand will unexpectedly swing out over the lower or collapse inside of it. Now when the blade is set, I stroke “in line with the shaft”. Where ever it ends up when I set the blade, I stay with that shaft angle (shallow or steep) and drive the stroke in line with it. My speed is much more stable, a bit faster and I have a ton more top end speed at the end when it is time to spend the last of my strength.
Last edit: 8 years 1 month ago by Sinkme. Reason: off topic. It offend some readers without adding to the value of the content
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto, Atlas, jttiii, Uffilation

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8 years 1 month ago #26253 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Raw Beginner Story
Hey Martin, great to see you making so much progress! Greg & Clint of Epic recently published a great video series on the paddling fundamentals.

If you haven't seen it already, worth a watch: www.epickayaks.com/article/article/epic-technique-series

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8 years 1 month ago #26254 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Raw Beginner Story
Also, have you paddled a V8Pro yet? I'll have one sometime next week for you to try out. Would love to get your feedback on it.

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8 years 1 month ago #26260 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Yes, I have enjoyed the new Epic videos. I was able to thank Greg the other day at Sand Point for them.

Hey, the Epic V8 Pro is on my "to try" list. If you have it at Lake Watcom at this Saturday's race I'll happily join the line to try it after.

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7 years 7 months ago #27369 by Sinkme
Replied by Sinkme on topic Raw Beginner Story
Raw Beginner: Post note

I need to add a note about “speed” and what helped me the most. “Speed” to me was the distance covered at an average 80% HR for an hour. After the fall camp last year I toyed with weights until I had that forehead slap moment and looked into intervals. All the descriptions were for people WAY stronger than me, so I made up my own: 80 “hard” strokes, 4 to 5 times during my hour sessions, two of my three sessions a week.

I say hard since most beginners like me have their form collapse in a sprint and you need the form to bring the right muscles along. 80 is a hard number to count to while I’m busy (for me, former accountant) so I just count to 20 twice on one side.

In two months I was a solid 0.2 mph faster. Nothing else really moved the dial for me like this. The rest made me feel better, more secure, more relaxed, but did not make me faster the way I define it.

By the way, I’m still in my V8. The V8 Pro and V10 Sport reduce my condition flexibility and are not over 0.2 faster in flat water after the speed/stability trade (for me these days). Interestingly, the V8 Pro was not noticeably more stable than the V10 Sport for me at 200 lbs. I suspect lighter people would see it.

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