Author Topic: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101  (Read 6139 times)

ukgm

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Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« on: July 22, 2016, 05:41:17 AM »
Here you go guys - a link to my latest testing exploits - this time with paddles. Again, it shows that if you're careful, you can field test and obtain low margin of errors.


https://www.supboardermag.com/2016/07/22/sup-technical-how-to-find-out-what-race-paddle-is-fastest-for-yo/


(My conflicts of interest have been listed in the text)

Luc Benac

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2016, 07:04:12 AM »
I am sure you will still get several posts about it :-)
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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2016, 07:33:24 AM »
Seems sensible. No great surprises here - I have the same paddles (except instead of the 120 I have a 110 QB), and my results using them would be similar.

Long-term impact on the body is however harder to quantify, as is fatigue, and also how tolerant a blade is to sloppy technique as you get tired or stressed. For instance, I am faster with a 91 v-drive than a 100 one over distance because if I don't get the 100 out early at my feet it causes the board to decelerate more than the 91, and it is this part of my stroke rather than the catch or power phase that seems to be a limiting factor for me. For a short sprint though I'm faster with the 100. It's all jolly complicated if you want to understand exactly how you are interacting with your paddle. But fortunately if you just go somewhere flat and quiet and spend some time with a paddle, then you should be able to work out which suits you best even if you don't know exactly why.

The article doesn't mention differences in the shaft. The 120 usually comes with a round stiff shaft, and the others most often (but not always) are seen with the oval tapered shaft. Big difference in the effect of these shafts upon the paddling experience.

Luc Benac

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2016, 08:03:02 AM »
+1 on the difference between certain type of shaft.
On my Konihi it makes a difference on many level from tolerance on the catch to comfort on the body.
I have been going back and forth between two shaft on the exact same paddle the whole winter.
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ukgm

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2016, 08:13:54 AM »
Seems sensible. No great surprises here - I have the same paddles (except instead of the 120 I have a 110 QB), and my results using them would be similar.

Long-term impact on the body is however harder to quantify, as is fatigue, and also how tolerant a blade is to sloppy technique as you get tired or stressed. For instance, I am faster with a 91 v-drive than a 100 one over distance because if I don't get the 100 out early at my feet it causes the board to decelerate more than the 91, and it is this part of my stroke rather than the catch or power phase that seems to be a limiting factor for me. For a short sprint though I'm faster with the 100. It's all jolly complicated if you want to understand exactly how you are interacting with your paddle. But fortunately if you just go somewhere flat and quiet and spend some time with a paddle, then you should be able to work out which suits you best even if you don't know exactly why.

The article doesn't mention differences in the shaft. The 120 usually comes with a round stiff shaft, and the others most often (but not always) are seen with the oval tapered shaft. Big difference in the effect of these shafts upon the paddling experience.

Yep, again my goal here was really how to show that with controlled conditions, you can demonstrate a different between equipment - this time paddles. Next time I'm going to be looking at an even smaller change by then playing with fins. That's coming soon.

Obviously the nuances of each paddle will highlight different best solutions for each paddler but it was particularly useful for me as the N1SCO series I race in involves racing over three different disciplines from a sprint through to long distance and I ended up using different paddles for each event as a result of this testing.

ukgm

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2016, 08:15:43 AM »

The article doesn't mention differences in the shaft. The 120 usually comes with a round stiff shaft, and the others most often (but not always) are seen with the oval tapered shaft. Big difference in the effect of these shafts upon the paddling experience.

That's a good point. Both the Trifecta and V drive had tapered and oval shafts. The 120 had a large round shaft. The V drive I typically find a bit much in races over an hour but I wonder if switching to a round shaft might make it more forgivable or maybe even going for the dramatic drop down in size to just an 81.

PonoBill

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2016, 09:58:20 AM »
Interesting test. I don't have any quibbles about methodology or statistical precision, but I note that you essentially dismiss the results. I don't offer that as a critique, Dave Kalama doesn't use the Big Mama anymore either--he's been going steaditly smaller. But I do think that a bottom line result like that calls into question the relevance of the test, and suggests that something is missing.

The big differences between a properly designed large paddle and a smaller one are slip and weight. Cadence is higer with a small paddle because it slips more, and slipping is inefficient. It doesn't HAVE to slip more, you can plant the blade well and pull at a stroke rate that more closely matches board speed. But you'll generate less power.

Higher cadence with a good stroke confines the power application to a smaller timeframe, and if you rush withdrawal then it's likely proportiionally more of the power is applied in the first third of the stroke. You make up for the inefficient slipping blade by applying power at the most efficient part of the stroke--when the balde is close to vertical and your body is in the best position to engage bigger muscles.

With a bigger paddle it's more important to match stroke rate to board speed. If you force the blade you'll generate slip, but it's a lot of work.

You can probably get both paddles to perfrom similarly by focusing on the most efficient stroke rate and technique for the blade at a given board speed. Your speed coach should be a fine tool for measuring that.

In other words, I suspect the biggest difference in those three paddles is you, and how you are using them. And that's why you didn't make your choice of which paddle is best for you based on the numbers.

I'm also not seeing any p-value here connected to a hypothsis that drives your methodology, but that really is a nit.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 10:01:41 AM by PonoBill »
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ukgm

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2016, 10:12:51 AM »
1) Interesting test. I don't have any quibbles about methodology or statistical precision, but I note that you essentially dismiss the results. But I do think that a bottom line result like that calls into question the relevance of the test, and suggests that something is missing.

2) In other words, I suspect the biggest difference in those three paddles is you, and how you are using them. And that's why you didn't make your choice of which paddle is best for you based on the numbers.

3) I'm also not seeing any p-value here connected to a hypothsis that drives your methodology, but that really is a nit.

Thanks for the feedback. To pick up on some of your points:

1) Yes, I agree and I openly mention in the article that longer term racing and testing would supplement these results. You can adapt to changes but it's pointless trying to adapt to everything so shorter duration testing would get the shortlist down and then I'd perform longer duration tests (and have done so with some of these paddles).

2) Yes I agree and I suggested as much in the article (whereby I said it might be worth me spending the time to work on technique with the small blade to improve its score).

3) I did do ANOVA and T tests and P was not always <0.05 for all 3 paddles. However, the standard error and standard deviation (coupled with the coefficent of variation) were all satisfyingly very low. I didn't include that level of reported data in the article (as I suspect you might appreciate) as that's a bit much for the typical internet readers for this kind of thing (but I would obviously include that if I were publishing).

« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 10:14:25 AM by ukgm »

PonoBill

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2016, 10:50:01 AM »
3. I suspected you did, but yeah, probably you, me, Beasho and a couple others would even care.  And I suspected P might be high, but again, who cares. It's not rocket surgery.

The rest of the observations are probably inevitable for test like this. Statistically valid and ultimately irrelevant.  I spent a silly amount of time directly measuring and recording everything I could think of about paddles, and then realized about all I could do with the data is gaze at it with a certain geek satisfaction. Now I find myself all worked up over a new strain guage interface from sparkfun to the tune of $319 worth of bits ordered. The likelihood of anyone giving the tiniest shit about what I'm doing is nada, but it's geek fun with a nice dose of physical activity--a rare combination.

Which is why we do it.
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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2016, 11:56:34 AM »

The article doesn't mention differences in the shaft. The 120 usually comes with a round stiff shaft, and the others most often (but not always) are seen with the oval tapered shaft. Big difference in the effect of these shafts upon the paddling experience.

That's a good point. Both the Trifecta and V drive had tapered and oval shafts. The 120 had a large round shaft. The V drive I typically find a bit much in races over an hour but I wonder if switching to a round shaft might make it more forgivable or maybe even going for the dramatic drop down in size to just an 81.
I have both round shaft and oval shaft v-drive 91s. The round shaft configuration is less forgiving.

The Trifecta 86 is a lovely paddle, and I really enjoy using it. It is much easier on the body. But unfortunately I am quite a bit slower using it. So I don't, unless I'm going to be paddling for several hours.

ukgm

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2016, 02:25:53 PM »

The article doesn't mention differences in the shaft. The 120 usually comes with a round stiff shaft, and the others most often (but not always) are seen with the oval tapered shaft. Big difference in the effect of these shafts upon the paddling experience.

That's a good point. Both the Trifecta and V drive had tapered and oval shafts. The 120 had a large round shaft. The V drive I typically find a bit much in races over an hour but I wonder if switching to a round shaft might make it more forgivable or maybe even going for the dramatic drop down in size to just an 81.
I have both round shaft and oval shaft v-drive 91s. The round shaft configuration is less forgiving.

The Trifecta 86 is a lovely paddle, and I really enjoy using it. It is much easier on the body. But unfortunately I am quite a bit slower using it. So I don't, unless I'm going to be paddling for several hours.

(Accepting my current sponsorship arrangements) I'm considering a left field solution by going to the v drive 81. That's outrageously small for a guy of my size but I think it might offer the idiot proof catch of the v drive design with the lighter stroke pressure like a trifecta 86.

Either way, part 3 of my testing odyssey will be to now look at fins and see if I can get good results of something that small a change.

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2016, 04:03:13 PM »
Worth a try, ukgm. And if you don't like it you can always sell it to me (as long as you've hot glued it) ;)

Travis Grant won the M2O with a Trifecta 86, and he probably pulls as hard as both of us put together.

But sometimes strong guys like you find themselves having to use a small blade because there is some aspect of their technique which is causing undue strain on one part of the body. If this is you, you might think about trying to derive your power by fuller movement of the body, engaging as many systems as you can, thus spreading the load. Even Dave Kalama talks about using hip movement not only to generate power, but also to stretch the back to take the strain off, for instance. With the v-drive in particular, you can get a much softer but much more powerful stroke by concentrating on getting the blade in the water at a positive angle and a super clean entry that loads the blade well. It feels almost too easy once you get it right, but the GPS doesn't lie. The short upright stroke like Candace Appleby's is very tough on the body and whilst it clearly works for her, I'm not sure that a man (with inherently less flexibility) is likely to be able to do it with a blade with such a firm catch if you use a short stroke without straining something eventually.

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2016, 06:18:47 AM »
ukgm - why not just keep on using 3 different paddles that are best suited for what you want to accomplish?  For instance Travis noted he uses like 4 different shaft lengths when he races in the M2O to give him variation.  This way he spreads the load over more muscle groups over the course of the race to lessen overuse and fatigue.

Using 3 different paddles like you did seems normal.  Are you trying to find the perfect one paddle solution?

And A10 - is the QB round shaft you have less forgiving because it has a stiffer flex?  We only have only one oval shaft from Blackfish - and that seems less forgiving than our round SB and Riviera paddles.  The flex in all 3 brands is about the same.
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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2016, 06:32:54 AM »
The oval tapered shafts from QB are not like ordinary oval shafts. They are tapered. In other words, they have a smaller diameter at the handle than they do at the blade. A LOT smaller. This means the section between your hands bends more than the section from your lower hand to the blade. Also, if the paddle is shorter the overall flex proportional to the length will be greater. In effect, therefore, on average the paddle will give shorter people a flexier shaft than tall people, which is generally appropriate since taller people will generally weigh more.

It's extremely clever, and must be very hard to make. It results in a paddle that is surprisingly kind on the body to use without losing power. You have more flex up high to protect the upper shoulder, and less flex between the lower hand and the blade, so there's no loss of power.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 06:34:28 AM by Area 10 »

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Re: Flatwater Racing Paddle Testing 101
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2016, 08:29:43 AM »
Ok thanks.  That makes sense.  The Blackfish oval diameter is pretty much consistent the entire length.  Being so used to paddling a round shaft - the oval initially made my fingers a bit stiff after gripping a narrower oval shape.

Like many things - my grip adjusted over time - and the stiffness went away.  But still the round shaft feels more comfortable over distance - and the oval more easy to grip.  For choke and low drag -> the oval is a lot better.  The QB concept seems quite ingenious.
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