On the Water: Paddling Expertise for Journey Racers

Paddling is a pillar self-discipline within the sport of journey racing. Get able to dip a blade and pull on any sort of water out on the course.


Editor’s be aware: This text was initially printed on USARA.com and has been modified for GearJunkie.


Be it canoe, kayak, or packraft, nearly each journey race has a paddling part. And relying in your race schedule, you could must observe flatwater paddling, whitewater methods, or open-ocean kayaking.

Paddling in most races tends to be beginner-friendly. Assume canoeing on calm water or straightforward river sections. In longer races, you could face ocean bays, waves, currents, and critical whitewater streams.

Adventure racers heading out for their paddle segment during the USARA Longest Day Adventure Race in New York.
(Photograph/NYARA)

For inexperienced persons, step one to changing into proficient is realizing fundamental strokes. That you must be taught the foundations of canoe and kayak dealing with.

Can you retain the boat straight? Are you aware find out how to rudder, flip, and transfer down a river? If sure, you’re prepared for many journey races. You don’t have to be an professional, however fundamental boat dealing with is required to successfully transfer by means of water sections on a course.

If it’s good to be taught the fundamentals, discover a paddling course by means of a corporation just like the American Canoe Affiliation (ACA), ask a pal with expertise to show you, and observe these abilities. Mastering fundamental strokes will assist you to deal with a ship effectively, saving time and frustration throughout a race.

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Navigation Required

Past shifting the boat throughout water or downstream, journey racing has the bonus and problem of requiring navigation when you paddle. That you must each plan a course to finish a piece and discover checkpoints alongside the way in which.

This may be cumbersome and complicated — utilizing a map and compass whereas on the water is a ability set in itself. Plan to observe navigating on lakes to factors, peninsulas, islands, and different main options. It’s best to be capable of discern geographic options from a map and paddle a route to succeed in checkpoints.

On rivers, navigation will be tough, requiring racers to maintain monitor of twists and turns and know the place they’re on the waterway. One tip: Look ahead to bridges, powerlines, and different main options on a map, after which use these waypoints as you paddle for a fast location examine.

Use a water-proof map case and have a compass mounted on the boat or simply accessible on a lanyard. Typically, the navigator ought to sit within the entrance of the boat, permitting them to see and letting a teammate within the again steer.

three adventure racers heading out for their paddle segment during the USARA Longest Day Adventure Race in New York.
(Photograph/NYARA)

Gear Ideas

Conserving your gear secure and dry must be a prime concern. In a canoe, after a few miles, water will settle into the underside of the boat from splashing and paddling. Something on the ground will likely be soaked, which might embody your pack.

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Many groups use a big, roll-top dry bag. You may retailer your groups’ packs inside, sealing it up for the part. Don’t neglect to maintain meals and water at hand for the journey downstream or throughout a lake.

A ultimate level: You should definitely connect your gear to the boat. An incident the place the boat suggestions can imply packs, luggage, and kit floating away except it’s tied down.

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Time to Race

What are you able to anticipate on the market on a course? Paddling distances usually are not normal throughout journey races, however most shorter races will max out at 5 miles of water time. Half-day occasions might have you ever within the boat for 10 miles, and also you may hit 15-20 miles or extra in a 24-hour occasion.

Paddling within the sport of journey racing is a novel ability, and groups usually refine it over many coaching days and occasions. Like something, observe and time spent honing the craft are requisite for achievement.

However armed with the information above — and a few prep time on the water and together with your gear — you need to be able to get on the water, dip a blade, and head onto the course.


This text is sponsored by Toyota. Discover out extra concerning the 2022 Toyota Tundra on-line.

Team riding gravel during a USARA Adventure Race.
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