Wash Riding K1 vs Ski

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1 year 11 months ago #37256 by zachhandler
I have been pondering a theoretical question about wash riding: 

When I paddle K1 at speed I create a huge wake behind me that my surfski buddies like to ride (and I am happy to provide). Skis by comparison generate a much smaller wake. So what would happen in a pack race on flat water with skis and K1 mixed together, assuming that all the boats in the race had the same flat water time trial speed.  Would the skis have a big advantage because they get to ride great k1 wash, while not leaving much of a wash for the k1 to ride? Or does it somehow even out because the shorter k1 can pick up a small wave better? My feeling is that the advantage would go to the ski paddlers but I am curious what others think. Maybe someone has real life experience in mixed boat pack racing and knows the non-theoretical answer. 

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, 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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1 year 11 months ago #37257 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
Not many k1 paddlers where I race, but I see your point. I would think skis have a bigger advantage running on a K1 wake. We have a lot of OC 1's and OC 2's and they push a pretty big wake. My first time racing in a big pack of mixed craft I hopped on an OC 2 wake and it was a huge advantage. I could paddle at the same speed with about 50% effort.

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1 year 11 months ago #37259 by MidwestRacing
Replied by MidwestRacing on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski

Epicpaddler wrote: Not many k1 paddlers where I race, but I see your point. I would think skis have a bigger advantage running on a K1 wake. We have a lot of OC 1's and OC 2's and they push a pretty big wake. My first time racing in a big pack of mixed craft I hopped on an OC 2 wake and it was a huge advantage. I could paddle at the same speed with about 50% effort.


The trick is making everyone think you are still going full effort when you are sitting on a wake. Kinda like soft peddling in cycling when you teammate goes off the front. Cadence stays high, effort goes down and it looks the same.


The limited chances I have had to take pulls with a k1, I think I am getting the bigger advantage. They were able to dump me off their wake pretty easily with a quick interval or a well timed turn I couldn't make if they wanted to. When they were on my wake, it felt like glue and there was no way to get them off. We were of roughly equal paddling ability and skill.

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1 year 11 months ago #37260 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
For two paddlers of the same ability, the one in the ski will be faster (assuming good level of fitness). So there is no advantage in ski paddlers sitting on a K1's wake. 

Tiny differences in K1 hull make quite a difference in how they sit on a wash (I've paddled maybe 8 different models of K1 in groups). The same must apply to skis. 

I think the K1 paddler will gain more by sitting on a ski wash. 

A 0.25kph difference in speed (paddled with same effort) translates to a big gap at a race finish. The ski paddler in this scenario just needs to treat the race like a time trial and they will drop the K1 paddler, unless the K1 paddler can sit on wash for the entire race and sprint the last few hundred metres.

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1 year 11 months ago #37261 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
For a run of the mill paddler a ski may be easier to paddle efficiently on a messy wash due to better stability

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1 year 11 months ago - 1 year 11 months ago #37264 by RedBack
Replied by RedBack on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
MrCharly, - what makes you think a ski is faster than a K1?
200m K1 33.380  Liam Heath    United Kingdom  2017  Plovdiv , Bulgaria 21.57 km/h
500m K1 1:35.04  Tom Liebscher    Germany  2019  Szeged , Hungary 18.94 km/h
1000m K1 3:21.890  Max Hoff    Germany  2015  Baku , Azerbaijan 17.83 km/h
5000m K1 18:00.040  Eirik Veras Larsen    Norway  2009  Poznań , Poland 16.66 km/h
Good luck getting any paddler to go faster than these times on a ski.

As for longer distances, - Kenny Wallace used to sit at over 15 km/h for an hour just training in a K1.
Last edit: 1 year 11 months ago by RedBack.

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1 year 11 months ago #37266 by Zombie
Replied by Zombie on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
I think these Champions times not relevant. 
my Epic dealer said (ex flatwater world champion) his Nelo(weight: 11 kg) is 1km/h faster than his “performance” V14(weight 15 kg). I bought his V14. I think the different is less than me. 

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1 year 11 months ago #37273 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
For a similar hull profile, longer boats are faster. Simple physics.

The Channel crossing record is held by a K1 sprinter - but he didn't use a K1 for the Channel record attempt.

RedBack wrote: MrCharly, - what makes you think a ski is faster than a K1?

200m K1 33.380  Liam Heath    United Kingdom  2017  Plovdiv , Bulgaria 21.57 km/h
500m K1 1:35.04  Tom Liebscher    Germany  2019  Szeged , Hungary 18.94 km/h
1000m K1 3:21.890  Max Hoff    Germany  2015  Baku , Azerbaijan 17.83 km/h
5000m K1 18:00.040  Eirik Veras Larsen    Norway  2009  Poznań , Poland 16.66 km/h
Good luck getting any paddler to go faster than these times on a ski.

As for longer distances, - Kenny Wallace used to sit at over 15 km/h for an hour just training in a K1.

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1 year 11 months ago #37282 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski

mrcharly wrote: For a similar hull profile, longer boats are faster. Simple physics.

The Channel crossing record is held by a K1 sprinter - but he didn't use a K1 for the Channel record attempt.


Due to lack of bouyancy, aside from swamping, K1s need flatter water. Once the waves pick up, even on "flatwater" skis are king..You would have to be nuts to attempt a channel crossing in a k1. The only real downside is manhandling them off water, hence the growing appeal of shorter skis, which are getting closer to k1s. Flatwater marathons include portages hence limited use of skis mainly to masters and non portage classes. 

K1s are also a bit more more nimble in tightly packed river racing. A ski feels more like a battering ram in a mixed boat start line.

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1 year 11 months ago #37295 by RedBack
Replied by RedBack on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
"For a similar hull profile, longer boats are faster. Simple physics"

Simplistic physics.  There are a lot of variables that dictate the speed of a water craft.  Waterline length is just one.  To ignore the others is disingenuous.

"The Channel crossing record is held by a K1 sprinter - but he didn't use a K1 for the Channel record attempt."

Ian was (and probably still is) a fine paddler.  Give him a call and ask him which is quicker in flat water (in the hands of a competent paddler) a K1 or a ski?

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the channel crossing is not something you do in a K1.  It would be a fool's errand to even attempt that in a K1 and the fact that Ian chose a Ski, tells us nothing about the relative speeds of each craft in flat water.

As for the V14 vs K1 comparison, - the V14 is very "K1-like" in its flat water characteristics, but a 1km/h difference is still significant.

"Overpower" them both (as you would in a flat out sprint) and the V14 hits the hydrodynamic "wall" earlier.

If you plot the resistance of both hulls, - at a moderate cruising speed (say, 12 km/h) they're roughly equal (the ski may even have less resistance at that speed).  Step it up to 15 km/h though and the the ski's r-curve becomes much steeper and continues to be so as speeds rise.

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1 year 11 months ago #37296 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski

RedBack wrote:
If you plot the resistance of both hulls, - at a moderate cruising speed (say, 12 km/h) they're roughly equal (the ski may even have less resistance at that speed).  Step it up to 15 km/h though and the the ski's r-curve becomes much steeper and continues to be so as speeds rise.


This is the thing, only top paddlers can get up into that speed bracket and maintain it over more than a very short sprint, so for most folks who paddle both it is that elusive goal to actually go faster in a k1 than in an elite ski. After 6 month regularly in an epic k1 I still can't match my speed in an intermediate v10s,. Everytime I up my PB in the k1 i hop back in the ski and find my improvement ups the ski PB as well. So my goal is to 0oachieve a faster 10km in the k1 than the ski..Hopefully by the end of the year... Throw in the wash as per this topic and that gap just widens

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1 year 10 months ago #37377 by Cryder
Replied by Cryder on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
We have a lot of local flat water races attended by both very competent K1 and ski paddlers in our region (Bellingham, Seattle, Gig Harbor), and I'd offer a few observations having raced in a k1 and against them in a ski over the last seven years or so that I've been a paddler. K1's are designed for idealistic flat water conditions and distances, and in my perspective (and my GPS's) are faster in those conditions. 

But for pure flat water comparison: In a K1 (Nelo Cinco), my 1k PR is 3:44, and in a V14 with a modified high seat and a super small rudder my PR is 3:48. Both times were recorded at an optimal time in my cycle (peak form), and within a week of each other (July 2020). The K1 is substantially faster off the line, and comes up to maximum speed much quicker with less effort. The V14 has a longer water line (and more surface) but tends to offer better glide, and hold absolute threshold power better for the 1k distance. But a 500m or shorter race, the advantage to k1 is crystal clear, and I am of the opinion that the speed differential at the start of the race is more valuable than a the end, even if the paddler is using a negative split strategy. I am fairly large as a paddler, 6'3" and 210#, but I have generally observed that lighter paddlers benefit more from the k1 configuration in said idealistic conditions. 

When it comes to pack racing: K1's do not ride wash well compared to a ski. They struggle to track in the sweet spot that is crucial for efficient wash riding, the bow can pearl when on the sweet spot and create tons of extra drag... and when "breaking wash" to overtake another paddler the directional stability issues tend to bleed crucial energy and athlete focus. They are a handful with directional water / wash issues, where as the ski is just a little more forgiving in getting the power to translate to max boat speed to break the wash you are riding on. But technique is huge in this issue, as masterful skill can offset the issues of the k1... or enhance the advantage of the ski.

I will say that in comparison between the two, an elite surfski is the vampire of wash, and any disturbance in water is happily slurped to advantage. It's apples to oranges. If it's a lane based race, the advantage is to the k1 is crystal clear. If the race involves drafting, choppy water or even a sniff of wind - advantage surfski. 
The following user(s) said Thank You: mrcharly

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1 year 10 months ago #37378 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
Regarding wash hanging, K1s are *extremely* variable. 
Since I am in a club that owns about 20 different K1s I've had the chance to try many models out.

One boat rode a wash wave so easily -but pushing over 'the hump' to get that ride was difficult. Another boat surfed wash like it was a slalom boat - made snaking through a pack fun but was a real handful, had to work to avoid collisions. 

Another boat cut through 'the hump' like it wasn't there - but then was a pig to hold straight and so vulnerable to side-wash. Swum out of that boat many times. 

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1 year 10 months ago #37379 by zachhandler
Replied by zachhandler on topic Wash Riding K1 vs Ski
Interesting observations and numbers Cryder. Mrcharley i am jealous that you have been able to try so many k1. 

i have owned four k1. The thing that improved wash riding the most for me is using pedals instead of a tiller. One boat i removed the tiller and built surfski style pedals for it and the behavior of the boat was night and day different. Holding tack in sidewinds became as effortless as in a ski, whereas before that the thing windcocked horribly. It also made wash riding very easy. I have tried the nelo pedal system a couple times, but nelo uses these tiny little toe pedals (to allow push from a full footboard) and I did not feel the same pinpoint steering i got with full surfski pedals. Perhaps it just takes getting used to. 

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, 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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