Should ocean skis have a "spec"?

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6 years 11 months ago #28223 by Spacehopper

Impala wrote: It is similar with biking which also does not need lots of regulations re constuction.


Umm...just the UCI clarification guide to technical regulations runs to 47 pages:

www.uci.ch/inside-uci/rules-and-regulations/equipment-165067/

...much like the similar document from World Sailing.

There's a reason that road bikes all look so similar and it's not because they're the optimum solution.

Contrast that to the ICF - three incredibly vague paragraphs on the construction regs that if anyone was so motivated they could drive a bus through!

Delicate construction may or may not pay-off, but once people believe that it does, it can end up hurting participation because of expense and breakability.

Given that it's blindingly obvious that if you make a kayak longer/thinner/lighter it will generally go faster, it doesn't really count as innovation. An increase in efficiency with these aspects controlled would be a much more genuine and useful gain for the sport.

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6 years 11 months ago #28224 by zachhandler

Spacehopper wrote: .


Given that it's blindingly obvious that if you make a kayak longer/thinner/lighter it will generally go faster


So why then are the top guys not paddling 8meter skis with a 30cm beam?

I would argue (and I have earlier in this thread) that there are natural limits to surfski design and that we are already at the point where making them longer and thinner will not make them faster. In fact it appears there may me a trend toward shortening skis like oscar is doing at Nelo.

Why impose regulation if it is not needed? Spec seems like a solution in search of a problem when it comes to ocean ski.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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6 years 11 months ago #28228 by photofr
When you apply a restriction BEFORE you come up with the right ingredients for width, length and weight, you automatically limit progress for that sport - simply because you didn't know the ultimate width and length.

And then the other problem:
Many people will tell you that longer skis are going to be automatically faster on flat water - by merely applying limited factors into existing physics laws. If all factors affecting speed were applied, then there would be ZERO chances of me getting different results. The fact is that I am getting different results, and longer skis are not always faster on flat water - and far from it, because shorter skis can actually be faster for a great many paddlers.

In Open Water, there are even more factors involved, yet physics laws for flat water are applied; that's border line ridiculous.

Bottom line:
We know so little, yet we already want to impose a limit. "How limiting!"

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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6 years 11 months ago #28230 by Spacehopper
But Zach, it depends on what you consider the problem to be and what you consider a successful sport to look like...

If you envision sport as being purely about finding who is 'best', the elite skis are a great way to find the biggest fish in a very small puddle. If you take a wider a view and think that wide participation; people getting fit, having an adventure and making connections against a background of friendly competition, is a better thing to aspire to, then safe, cheap, durable kit looks a more sensible direction.

The other curious thing that always rears it's head when this subject is discussed is the idea that it's some zero-sum game. That either all skis must be to specs or all skis must be completely free of rules. In the other kit sports various levels of restriction can coexist, even in the same events.

A positive view of a future could be a restricted (or one-design, as Oscar seems to be promoting with the 510 Cup) class that provides an accessible entry level, which ends up growing the sport far beyond it's present tiny size. It would then be likely that it could coexist quite happily with an unrestricted class for elite level competition. I'm sure it's not beyond the wit of ICF to produce a second set of rules - after all the present ones look like someone knocked them up in 5 minutes anyway.

As for things finding their natural optimum...erm, yeah:

This is pretty much what an International Moth dinghy would have looked like in the 1960/70s when the class was one of the most popular singlehanded boats around.



And with no minimum waterline beam rule, this is where they ended up by the mid-80s...



Guess what happened to participation...?! The class almost disappeared completely.

The trouble with the 'finding it's natural level' idea is that it assumes an inexhaustable supply of money, training time and latent ability. Real people that might take up surfski have jobs, families, bills to pay so building a sport around super tippy boats is a one way ticket back into the obscurity that things like the V8 have dragged the sport up from.

Ludovic - the reason limits can be set in advance...because human brains are able to model scenarios of the future and figure out obvious pitfalls. ;) This is what other sports have done, why do paddlers believe reality works differently for them!?

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6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #28235 by photofr

Spacehopper wrote:
Ludovic - the reason limits can be set in advance...because human brains are able to model scenarios of the future and figure out obvious pitfalls. ;) This is what other sports have done, why do paddlers believe reality works differently for them!?



Why do I believe that?
Because human brains and computer have a downfall: they "sometimes" forget to evaluate all facts - otherwise known as factors in the equation. I have spent 12 months of testing a surfski that based on several computer models should have been slower.

Surely, you agree that some models have shown that longer skis are faster. If that's the case, can you explain to me why several people come up with the same data I come up with?

Without a doubt, based on real life situation, not based on a computer model, we have found that "longer skis are not always faster".

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
Last edit: 6 years 11 months ago by photofr.

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6 years 11 months ago #28236 by Spacehopper
Ludovic - with respect, I've no idea what you're on about. :)

The 'longer skis' comment was a throwaway line to point out that I think the ideas of innovation just based around making skis longer/thinner/lighter are rather unimaginitive.

I've said before in previous threads, as someone did on this one, that if the top paddlers/manufacturers were really taking development and events seriously then we'd see them using different boats in different places and wave conditions.

That we don't see that to any great degree indicates the level of competition is well below the 'money-no-object, no-stone-unturned' that many other sports experience. It's probably the reason that the present - rather basic - rules have not been abused. No-one actually cares enough about winning ski races to really throw any money at it - which might be a good thing.

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6 years 11 months ago #28277 by zachhandler
Spacehopper - I fully agree with you that regularly having a stable boat division is a good idea for the sport. If race organizers throw prize money at it then it will catch on. It is a great idea.

I understand your concern that without specs, skis will go the route of the moth, becoming less user friendly and causing a decline in participation.

That is a theoretical concern.

The current reality however is this: despite decades without any specs, surfski has moved in the opposite direction of the moth. Modern skis are more stable and more user friendly than their predecessors. Compare the manners of a modern elite ski to the icon or millenium, for example. In the absence of spec, an entire new class of short stable skis has been invented and flourished. It is said that the v8 is the most popular ski in the world, for example. And as a result of all of this surfski is growing and becoming more accessible and less esoteric.

So while your argument is rational, it is strongly undercut be what is actually happening in the spec-free world of ocean ski.

Given the current reality, I see no need to impose a spec.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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6 years 11 months ago #28282 by Impala
"So while your argument is rational, it is strongly undercut be what is actually happening in the spec-free world of ocean ski."

That is what I also think all the time. Extreme skis like the ones Zach mentioned, but also the old version Nelo 560 or the Carbonology Atom more or less eliminate themselves ... even for the best paddlers they are not faster in downwind conditions than their more stable updates, even though the latter are reported to be slightly slower in the flat.

For me the main argument for a spec ski class would be that it could provide an incentive for midpackers like me who are too old or untalented to ever be able to handle an elite ski downwind. But for that purpose the current livesaving ski specs would be sufficient, right?

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6 years 11 months ago #28284 by Ranga
Impala, clearly you have yet to paddle a Lifesaving Spec ski? 18kg and unstable. They are built for the top few percentage of the lifesaving fraternity purely for top end racing around a set course. I am consistently lowering seats on these skis because of their lack of stability.
Generally people just go out and buy a stable ocean ski, there are many to chose from. I personally race a stable Epic V10 Sport and race my mates on their very narrow super fast long skis, which are not faster, if they were they would be ahead of me not behind me.
As for an incentive, well cant help you there I do the sport because I love it, immaterial of what I paddle, downwind preferred and stable craft preferred, raced the V8 on many occasions, great fun.

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6 years 11 months ago #28285 by Impala
Ranga,

it was a question of mine, not a definitive statement, as to whether the current spec skis would be 'spec' enough for our purpose here. The ones I have seen were somewhat 48 cm max width and just way less aggressive underneath than e.g. a fenn Elite.

That some intermediate paddlers would welcome to compete in an own class with more stable boats as a kind of transitory phase is no reason to look down on them. The race seakayak class in the US fulfils exactly that purpose. As soon as midpackers get bored with this, they move up to the open class. I would not need this for myself (despite finishing way behind the midpack), but would also not reject it if it were offered and my boat would fit in.

Your experience with being faster with a more stable boat also as compared to your buddies confirms the 'no specs necessary' camp's argument.

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6 years 11 months ago #28313 by Geargrinder
The issue is whether you are viewing this question as a competitor (with its respective bias) or the sport as a whole. The sport as a whole may wish to implement regs that encourage participation. If you make the technical skills so high (in terms of balance) just to be remotely competitive, then you won't get the underpinning mid and back of pack competitors that can hold a whole sport up. An elitist sport is fine but you've only got to look at what happened with C1, K1 and windsurfing's participation numbers to see what happens when the equipment to win races becomes increasingly harder to use - you drive away the bulk numbers just wanting to take part. The UK came up with a separate class last year that had a max length/beam calculation which effectively seperated out the V6, V7, V8 and bluefin crowd into their own race class. That was a smart idea to give those who are multisporters (who won't paddle as often as the specialists) or those joining the sport later in life, something to race for.
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6 years 11 months ago #28451 by Spacehopper

zachhandler wrote: I understand your concern that without specs, skis will go the route of the moth, becoming less user friendly and causing a decline in participation.

That is a theoretical concern.


Only theoretical due to ski paddling never actually having been popular enough to have a decline in the first place... ;)

If all these (high participation, well organised) other sports are wrong, and given that recreational paddling is massive at present, then where are all the people..? Ski racing has been around for quite some decades but it's only the advent of the stable boats that have seen it really start to spread.

Of course as Ranga notes, the actual 'spec' skis were probably not conservative enough in their specs to make the sport accessible to a wide range of people, but I'd guess their specs grew more out of the needs of life saving than amateur competition.

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