Sunday, December 28, 2008


Having been training for way too long. I woke up this morning aching all over.
Argh. Degenerating.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Guess Who's Back?

I stopped training after the Round Ubin Kayak Race held in early November and have not done any training what so ever until today. Damn tired after paddling 3 triangles which is less than 15km. Took me about 1hr 47min to paddle 13.5km. Pathetic.
My left shoulder felt stiff during the first round with some ratcheting sensation but that soon went away after abit of paddling. My right forearm however, ached alot. Couldnt make a final burst at the end. Was quite bad.. My forearm was solid as a rock, might be due to gripping the paddle too tightly.

Need to get my groove again. 1.5months without training. Not a good thing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Will be putting my solo sunrise paddle on hold. I sprained my back and neck on Sunday and it still hurts a little. There's also gonna be a cycling training and we're doing a round island which would be at least 100km.
Dont want to over exert myself and make things worse, so I've decided to postpone the solo sunrise :(

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

4 Star Sea

Heard there's gonna be a 4 Star course from 14th-17th Feb next year. Too bad its just before my exams. Will have to give it a miss. School just sucks. The exams always clash with something.

If anyone is interested, contact Water-Venture (Changi). Heard the cost is $580.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Solo Sunrise

Read some of Wai Meng's posts on twodegreesnorth regarding a dawn paddle. Sounds interesting. Intend to try it out in December.
Tentatively, I've set the date for Wednesday, the 10th of Dec. Will take bus 82 to Punggol end at 6am and do a solo round Ubin from there.

Chance Meeting

Was shocked to see David Wong in the trainer's room at Water-Venture Kallang. He took over Stanley's 2 Star course.
Haven't seen him in quite a long time...

Monday, November 17, 2008


My shoulders are stiff and hurt a little. Had some discomfort while conducting a 1 Star course on Sunday.
Maybe Im not suited for marathons? Will give it one more go at the Singapore Canoe Marathon in January. Probably go back to leisure paddling afterwards. The trainings are just taking up too much of my time. Havent even got the chance to use my Feathercraft for a long distance journey yet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Black flagged

I am feeling very disappointed and angry.

Disappointed because my timing for the Round Ubin Kayak Race was 2:43:47, thats really damn slow and did not acheive my desired 2:30:00 timing.

Angry because my timings during training have been magically improving every single time I hit the water. But due to a lack of rest I have been getting headaches when I exert myself. I first experienced this on Friday when I felt weak after paddling 1 triangle in Kallang.
It was worse today. I barely paddled 8km before I felt weak.
Also got cramps in my buttocks and a stiff shoulder which made paddling an agony.

Feels like all the effort spent training 3 times a week was nullified by 1.5 wks of late nights doing bloody school assignments just before the race. Mostly angry because of this. Its like being black flagged at the last lap.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Water-Venture (Kallang) Course Forecast

November '08 to January '09


1 Star
9th & 16th
16th & 23rd

2 Star
9th, 16th & 23rd

1 Star
6th & 7th
20th & 21st

2 Star
13th, 20th, 27th

January 2009
1 Star
11th & 18th
18th & 25th

2 Star
11th, 18th & 25th

Please Note:
  1. Go to for info on cost.
  2. All courses are open to public, just providing info
  3. Information may be outdated by the time you view this, please check with Water-Venture to confirm

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1st Anniversary

1 year ago today, I passed my coaching assessment!
How far I've come. And how time flies! Its been an interesting year and hopefully it gets even better in the years to come.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wonderful day!

All those practice sessions have shown results! I managed to catch up with Sarah and Jason during 2km sprints. Woohoo! No longer lagging behind. Finally got the technique down. Will have to work on my endurance and fitness now.
Really good to see some improvement.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Chance Meeting

It was a hot, tiring day. The sun was blazing as I did my usual route around Kallang. Experimented a little by go hard and fast in the beginning which turned out to be a bad idea. Was super tired by the time I finished.

Decided to roll to cool off. Unfortunately, it was so hot, the water was warm!!! Rolling didn't really help me cool off much. While I was rolling, I noticed 2 surf skis in the water. They turned out to be Kayakasia's Cher Huey and a friend. Had a quick chat but didn't join him because I didn't want to be stuck in traffic for 20min like on Wednesday. I so need to start commuting by bicycle so these sort of things don't happen!

He's going paddling in Laos during the last week of November, but alas, thats my exam period ):

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reaching my goals

After all that training, I've finally managed to finish my round Kallang route in under 50 minutes. It is only a small improvement as it'll still take more than 2.5hrs for me to finish the Round Ubin Kayak Race at this rate, but at least I'll come in under 3hrs.
To have any hope of winning anything at all, I need to be able to complete the race below 2 hours and 30 minutes. I'll strive towards that timing. That'll be my target!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Increasing the Tempo

The Round Ubin Kayak Race is approaching and SIM Canoeing Club members who are participating are expected to train 4 times a week! Trainings are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Unfortunately, trainings are in the mornings when I have lectures. So I'll only be able to join the club on Sunday afternoons.
Lucky for me I can still train by going down to Kallang after lectures. I've made plans to train on the same days as the club, but on my own and in the afternoons after my lectures.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Broken Paddle

Today was the 2nd and last session of the 1 Star Kayaking course for SIM ODAC and Canoeing Club. Actually, there's only 4 canoeing club members in the course. Haha.

Well, it was quite an enjoyable 2 days, although I think I talked abit too much.
The funniest thing happened while we were paddling towards the Benjamin Sheares bridge. I was trying to splash water on the participants when my paddle blade snapped! Paddled around for a while with that broken paddle. It didn't affect much cos the participants were tired out from a mass capsize which slowed them down considerably.

Rest of the pictures are here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dark Arts and Onno

In my attempt to master the dark art of rolling, I went down to Kallang today. Well, the main reason for going down was to test out my new Onno paddle. It actually feels like a wing, there really is no flutter but the paddle seems to grip the water quite late into the stroke. Will have to use it more often to really get the feel of it.

Of course, I couldn't resist an opportunity to roll. Tried the elbow roll and I managed to do it twice out of about 10+ times. Awesome! The success rate isn't that high at about 20%, but at least I know its possible! Need to work on it more often...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Went down to Macritchie today for some practice in a K1. At first I started out using the K1 without a seat, it was very stable. I could even sprint in it. Later on, Clarence had some difficulty and we decided to switch boats. I took his which had a seat and started to paddle around. Still a little shaky but a huge improvement compared to my last session where I could barely move 50m. This time around I managed to paddle about 1.5km in all.

At last... My paddle has arrived

My Onno Paddle has finally arrived. Its so light, I find it hard to believe it is a carbon/fiberglass composite.
What I find really cool though is the locking mechanism. Its just a little lever. And when my father can get mesmerized and amazed by that little contraption, its definately good (:
The shaft comes with a wet sanded feel which is better than the smooth shaft on the usual Bracsa wing paddles. Everything else is basically the same though, the blades are the size of the Bracsa I and might be too big for expeditions. However, changing my paddling style and improving my fitness will allow me to adapt to the blade.

Here are the pictures:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yes, more new stuff

"Men were born with a hole in their hearts, a hole so deep that nothing will satisfy his hunger for territory, power and greed." - Fairy tale from Hellboy 2

Check out the latest piece of gear issued to me. A racing lifevest sponsored by SIM!
The best thing about it? Its RED!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Die die also must paddle

When I woke up this morning the sky was dark and a cold wind was blowing in through the window. It soon started to drizzle and an sms to Junsheng confirmed that training has been postponed till tmr morning.
I went back to sleep and woke up an hour later when the sun started to shine again, took my stuff and went down to kallang for my own training.

Using a T1 and wing paddle, I went about paddling my usual 8km route. I only managed to help reduce my timing by 3 minutes. I expected a much bigger decrease in timing. Lousy improvement could be due to my lack of balance in an abeam sea. The waves were hitting me perpendicular to my kayak and it affected my stability. Its hard to go all out when you're more concerned about staying upright.

Switched to a Turbo afterwards and paddled another 3km. Did a few hand rolls and tried the elbow roll. Showing signs of improvement with the elbow roll, at least I can get my body up close enough to the surface and get a breath of air when previously I could not even bring my body any where near the surface.
The trick seems to be to float the body close to the surface before sweeping the body while doing a hip flick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Round and Round We Go!

Last Sunday, I kayaked round Ubin with Lawrence and Sam. This turned out to be a bad idea. I had canoeing club training just the day before and my body was still exhausted. My muscles were aching and my shoulders were sore. Yet, I went ahead with the journey.
It was one hell of a paddle, the sea was glassy and there was no wind at the beginning, with temperatures hitting 34 degrees celsius. It got cooler as we rounded the eastern end of Pulau Ubin and the following seas helped ease our paddling.
But alas, all good things come to an end. Soon we were paddling against the wind and it was torture! My aching body and sore shoulder didn't help much.
The journey was soon over in 4 hours and we were all glad to be back at the beach.

I went round Ubin again today. This time, I had given myself ample rest... Its Aaron's final paddling trip before he gets enlisted in the army and things were going well at first. But once we rounded Tajam beacon, the winds picked up and it was insane! The boat kept weather-cocking. I switched to a low angle paddling style and it helped alittle. There was improvement as we only took 3hrs to complete the journey. Phew!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I've got you now!

It seems that the thing affecting my paddling technique is my stomach and core muscles. Junsheng mentioned in the last training session that I tend to unwind my body too early.
That was merely a symptom. The reason for this? My stomach and core muscles aren't strong enough, I tried paddling slow, pausing just before the beginning of each stroke, making sure my body does not unwind until the blade is fully submerged. What I noticed was me being unable to hold that position for long. My more powerful muscles are weak. Damn, I need to go back to my daily fitness regime.
My right arm is also too low, a bad habit for the lower angle paddling style I'm used to. This explains why my boat tends to move off course after a while.

Also said "Hi" to a caucasian guy paddling around Kallang in a surf ski. Cool. Didn't realise there was more than 1 surf ski in Kallang.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What to do?

When conducting introductory 1 Star courses, I find it best to start with the capsize and wet exit. My personal feeling is that it gets the fear out of the way. Its kinda hard to teach the students when they are afraid of capsizing.
Getting them wet from the get-go should give them a teeny weeny bit more confidence. It wont crush their fears totally, but at least somewhere in their minds is the knowledge of what to do in event of a capsize.

However, coaching at certain places such as Paddlers' Gateway can pose a challenge. The launch site is small. Worse still, its in the wakeboarding/water-skiing area. So teaching the wet-exit there would be inconsiderate, since I would be blocking up the entire safe launching area. Also, the wake from the speed boat zipping around does add to the fear of the participants.

In cases like these, I just briefly tell the participants what to do in event of a capsize and get them paddling over to a safer, more condusive location.

But, what then if there's a participant who isn't really good with coordination and just cant seem to paddle straight?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Heard from my fellow Recreational Dragonboat Coaching Coursemates that they have recieved the certificates in the mail last week. Unfortunately, I have not recieved anything. Im guessing I failed.
Will have to check and see if everyone got their certs or if it is just me. Its very possible that they saw a lack of skill/confidence on my part. But it is quite a coincidence I failed.
Afterall, I was the one who sent an email regarding the reckless behaviour of the Honourary Secretary of the SDBA during the coaching course to the National Water Safety Council.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Slalom or not?

Ever since seeing slalom videos on Youtube and reading online, I realised that the slaloms in Water-Venture don't look anything like the ones in the videos or pictures.
Modern day slaloms are between 3.5m to 4m long, low volume and have pointy ends. In fact, they kinda look like polo boats with pointy ends.
But, while trying to find out more about slalom paddling techniques, I came across an article that describes the original slaloms back in 1960s as heavy, high volume boats made out of fiberglass that weighed over 30 pounds (13kg).
Sounds familiar?
So it is possible that the kayaks in Water-Venture are slaloms of 60's design with some slight tweaks such as the addition of toggles and decklines.

Hmm.. come to think of it, David did mentioned it before when I asked why the slaloms at the club dont look like the modern ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Low tech paddling

Im guilty of being a gear junkie. Often I realise after parting with my money, it isnt worth spending so much on all that high tech gear when I won't fully utilize it.
It may be nice to have equipment that the pros use, but in the end, I dont paddle in the same conditions nor do I use my gear as often as the pros.

Check out this blog post from a Malaysian paddler.

In the blog post, a 49 year old teacher paddled 1200km in 15 days. And if you take a look at the picture, the only fancy bit of kit that he seems to have is the rashguard he is wearing.
No carbon paddle, gore tex hat, USCG approved rescue PFD or dry bags. Hell, it looks like he used garbage bags and a nylon net to store his gear!

After reading this article, I'll be slower when reaching for my wallet. But that doesn't mean I'll stop ogling at the Kokatat Ronin or Epic paddles ;)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The "Tao" of Paddling

Decided to take a break from my evil accouting and statistics notes today. Went down to Kallang for some rolls and "lessons in stability".
Couldn't get into the groove today. Must be all that studying! The rolls just didnt come out right.

I did however, try some "Zen" stuff. Of course, more than 1 take was required to take these photos as we "explored the boundaries of stability". Which is just a euphemism for monkeying around.

The rest of the photos can be found here

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's in a name?

Should I name my kayak?

Here are the names I have come up with:
1. Bidadari, means angel in Bahasa Melayu.
2. Soda Gembira, means happy soda in Bahasa Melayu. Because the kayak is red.
3. Lorelei, a siren in German mythology.
4. Eos, Greek Titan, Goddess of the Dawn.


Friday, August 22, 2008

The Grass is Greener...

I recently commented on a Christov Tenn's blog regarding the peaceful lakes he gets to paddle in and how relaxing it must be. He then replied that being able to paddle in and around an island city state such as Singapore must be a marvel in the modern world.
As the saying goes, "the grass is greener on the other side" (:
But after browsing through some of my old photos, I was reminded of how wonderful my favourite hangout, Kallang is.
While it used to be quite dirty, the water is much cleaner these days. In fact, during spring tides, the water can be incredibly clear! Imagine being able to see your entire submerged paddle in the water. That's a visibility of about 2m which is great by Singapore standards!

So the next time you get an offer to paddle in Kallang, don't be too quick to decline.

I leave you now with some photos of the wonderful times I had in Kallang and the Singapore River.

Pebbles Bay Condominium

Singapore Flyer


Singapore River - Cavenagh Bridge(Oldest Bridge in Singapore)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Conflicting Information

During yesterday's test paddle of my Feathercraft Big Kahuna, I met Ee Tuck, a flatwater coach who was paddling in a K1. I spoke to him about the racing forward stroke. He shared some tips on the appropriate length to adjust the footrest, how much to kick when paddling and wrist motion when doing the forward stroke.
I noticed he does a throttling motion with the wrists cocked back, so I brought up the subject and he says you need to do it to overcome the feathering.

Olympic medalist and a flatwater coach have shown that the wrists have to be cocked back. Maybe I misunderstood Junsheng?

According to Derek Hutchinson the only way you don't have to cock the wrists is if you are using a 90 degree feather angle. But those racing paddles are 75-80 degrees if I remember correctly.


I heard from Aaron that competitive paddlers at Macritchie Reservoir polish their kayak hulls. A member of the public saw this happening and lodged a complaint. Paddle Lodge at Macritchie Reservoir now has to send a report of some sort.

Tsk tsk. Horrible lah these people. Risk poisoning the reservoir for what? 0.0001 knot more? I'd rather have unpoisoned drinking water.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Teva Guide L/C review

After using my Teva Guide L/C for 8 months. I thought I'd share my feelings on this pair of sandals.
Refer to this article I wrote when I first recieved this pair of sandals.

I've used this sandal in mud and sandy conditions. This sandal has also been worn for casual wear.

Things I liked
1. Sandal is like of Chaco design and straps are tubular. Quite comfy.
2. Sole is bouncy and comfortable.
3. Dries really quickly
4. Good grip on rocky surfaces

Things I didn't like
1. Some abrasion on big and last toe when sand gets caught under the straps.
2. Push button jams when used in sandy conditions
3. Sole has extra bulk at the heel, not very comfy for paddling in smaller kayaks
4. Sandal does not grip on slippery surfaces like tiles!
5. Sand always get stuck in slots where the straps are threaded through.

Overall, Im quite disappointed with the sandal mainly because the push button which seemed like a novel idea is now just a point of failure.
Sand is also always left in the sandal. When I turn my sandals upside down, lots of sand falls out. This abrasive sand might be damaging the sandal from the inside out.


It is comfy (:

Feathercraft Kahuna

My Feathercraft Kahuna arrived yesterday and I spent the night trying to assemble and disassemble it.
Took it out for a spin today and it took me only about 25min to assemble compared to 48min last night! Cool...

Had some difficulty rolling and doing side sculling with the kayak at first, especially since the aft deck is high. But I got a hang of it after a few failed attempts. Even managed to do an angel roll and balance brace.

While I was waiting for Aaron to empty his kayak at the beach one of the coaches asked in a demanding tone "Is Cher Huey coming later?". (Cher Huey is the guy who runs and imports Feathercrafts)
Come on man, is there a need to talk as if I owe you money?

Later I met a Canadian guy who has been on a trip with Cher Huey to Lower Seletar reservoir. He owns a Klepper Aerius II which has to be kept in 3 bags!!! OMG.. but he told me he has been to Malaysia and Riau Islands with his kayak.
He was admiring my kayak and said he will definately get one the next time he goes back to Canada. Haha..

Took some pics for the SIM 1 Star course and disturb the pple a little too.

So anyway, here are some pics.

Rest of them can be found here

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Forward Stroke Technique

The paddles I usually use have a feather angle of 80degrees or so. Because of this feather I have a throttling motion of my wrists when I paddle.
However, during the SIM Canoe training, I was told by the team captain not to do that throttling motion.
I've been scouring the net looking for information on how to have a neutral wrist position ever since.

Thats when I came across this picture of 2 time Olympic Gold medalist, Greg Barton.
This is taken from an article found in The article is by Greg Barton on forward stroke technique. If you look closely, his right wrist is rotated back.

Read the Full Article Here


Being the cheap bastard that I am, I definitly wouldn't pay 20 Euros for a norsaq, especially when its just a block of wood! So I decided to make my own out of scrap materials.
Before I go on, here's some background on the norsaq.
A norsaq is a greenland throwing stick. No, you dont exactly throw it, but it is similar to an atlatl. Greenland hunters would attach a harpoon to it which gives them greater leverage.
It was also used for rolling in case you lost your paddle and can't do a hand roll.

This is what a nice one would look like.


This is what mine looks like.

Looks alot like a cricket bat doesn't it? Maybe I should have been more descriptive when I told my father what a norsaq should look like.
I shall call it "Spanker" until I get around to sawing and shaping it into a more conventional shape. Will probably use the soldering iron I have lying around the house to burn a design on it when Im done.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rojak Day

I began the day by paddling a kayak with a single blade paddle and trying out various maneuvering techniques such as the bow rudder, and draw strokes. The canoeing J-stroke just seems odd to me. I have a natural tendency to convert the forward stroke into a stern rudder where the powerface is towards the kayak. But in the J-stroke, the back face is towards the kayak.

Switched to an unfeathered double blade paddle later on to get used to the 0 degree feather angle in my attempt to be versatile. Still not used to unfeathered blade so I experienced some aching in my arms when paddling about 2km to the Sheares bridge with Aaron. Had to race back to shore due to lightning and waited about 30min before the rain clouds dispersed.

Sam went down in the water with us after the rain and the focus switched to rolling and some experimentation. We took out the playboat and K1 for him to try.
Greatest achievement of the day was when I managed to place my body perpendicular to the boat when doing a balance brace. Usually my body is near to the stern.
Still unable to do forward ending hand rolls consistently though.
But Im more or less able to perfom a cross bow hanging draw consistently with a wing paddle.
Noticed that Sam uses the back face of the paddle when he does the blade when doing a cross bow hanging draw. After some pondering I realise that this might be better as it places the wrists in a more neutral position.
Sam managed to do an Angel roll, but because his Epic paddle has a foam core, its like cheating! I gave it a go using his paddle and it was SUPER easy.

*Rojak = Local dish that is a varied mix of ingredients eaten with sauce;
Used in Singapore slang to mean diverse or messy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Diagnosis and a huge investment

After reading up more information over the internet, I have a rough idea what cause the pain in my shoulder which eventually led it to pop.
I haven't really been using a proper torso rotation, "shouldering" my strokes instead. That is to say, I have been moving only my shoulders which gives the illusion of a torso rotation.
Now that the problem has been identified, I need to focus on correcting it.

I've also made a huge investment. I bought a Feathercraft Big Kahuna. Abit worried about the larger cockpit, but more space in the kayak would be welcome. I like a nice fitting kayak, but leg room is great. Which is why I dont like the Perception Dancer.
Will be getting it 2nd hand from a fellow paddler who is throwing in alot of accessories and even a paddle. He wanted to include his PFD too but he is a big guy and I definately won't fit into it.
Total damage? $3500. Reasonable especially since a brand new kayak without upgrades costs $4800.
His comes with the new upgraded coaming, front and rear hatches and bracing bars which would up the price to $5000+

Oh, and the best thing? Its red to match my PFD and dry bag. Hehe.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tipsy but not drunk

Aaron and I took K1s out to try earlier this morning and wow! they really are very tipsy. Had some difficulty trying to get in initially, but managed to overcome that and was soon paddling around.

I personally feel that it is easier to turn a K1 than it is to turn a tourer. Unfortunately, I spend so much effort trying to stay the right side up that I cant focus on my stroke. Mostly using my arm power. All the bracing also put some strain on my shoulder and now its aching again. Ok. Will rest my shoulder from now onwards!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Had an embarassing day today. During my first SIM sea training, we were made to do a few sets sprinting starts. 5 power strokes and 20 paddle strokes.
My shoulder came loose at this point and I shrugged it off, thinking it would go already. I managed to endure the shoulder discomfort and paddle 8km on Thursday so I didnt think I would matter much.
However, when we were made to paddle about 4km around kallang, which would take me approx. 30min, my shoulder decided to pop out of its socket! I couldn't lift my arm. After a bit of massaging, it more or less fell back into place but was abit stiff and the joint felt like a ratchet. Damn, the last time something like this was quite a while ago.
Shoulder was sore till evening and now it feels much better. Will still be going down to Kallang tmr to play with the K1s but will be taking it easy.

Junsheng also worked on my forward stroke. All along I have been throttling the paddle but apparently, the competitive paddlers dont do that. How then do they overcome the feather angle? Do they rotate the paddle with every stroke? Change master hand on each side? Just dont see how it can be more efficient. Unfortunately, this is where experience is no good since I've already formed habits which will be hard to change.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Went for a paddle today and my speed was much slower! I took 59.31min to complete my round :(
Should be a few seconds faster because I forgot which button to press haha. But 59 minutes is just unacceptable! I expereinced some discomfort in my left shoulder which contributed to the slower timing. But that means my technique is not correct!

Tried to do more skills with a wing paddle after that horrible session.

1. Cross-over hanging draw
2. Stern Rudder
3. Forward ending Sweep roll
4. C to C roll
5. Cross bow draw

The C to C roll was abit hard cos if the blade angle is slightly off, the blade would just dive. The cross bow draw felt abit odd, but then I havent tried it with a normal paddle.
And oh, cross-over hanging draw is MUCH easier!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Aid Kit

Here's a pic of my very basic First Aid Kit. This is the kit I carry with me when not coaching at Water-Venture and during my kayak trips.
The box is a sandwich sized Lock & Lock which is waterproof and floats. But I keep it in my dry bag for double protection.

Contents List
1. Sterile Gauze
2. Plasters
3. 3M Transpore tape
4. Roller bandage
5. Antiseptic Cream
6. Forceps
7. Tweezers
8. Alcohol swabs

Maybe I should add in a small bottle of axe oil in case people get sea sickness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tunnel vision

Forgot to add in my previous post that after my experimentation session with the wing paddle, I bumped into Charles while washing the kayak. I was washing my touring kayak and he noticed the wing on the ground. He asked who's it was and I pointed to myself. He then replied in a mocking, yet shocked tone, "you use brac 4 with slalom?!"

Yet another coach with a one track mind. To my readers, here's a link to Freya Hoffmeister's blog. She has circumnavigated Iceland and used an Epic wing paddle with her sea kayak for that trip.
Or jump straight to the article written by Freya here
She is sponsored by Epic, but she still chooses to use a wing instead of their euro blades for her expeditions.

Went for my 3rd SIM canoeing training. This time I felt that we were doing it right. Although warm up, still not really warm up. There was a good mix of cardio and strength training. There were 2 newbies this time but fewer people showed up. They're finally starting sea trainings and I will be joining them for the first one this Saturday!

Quite shocked to find out during dinner that they use Bracsa I and II. Those have a bigger blade area and stronger catch compared to the Bracsa IV I use.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Winging it

Used a wing paddle to do my usualy 8km route and it took me 56.22 min, 1 second shy of my fastest recorded time. However, I was trying to adapt to the new technique required to paddle with a wing.

I've heard that wings are one-trick ponies and can't do much other than paddle forward and low brace. But I managed to perform the following strokes:

1. Rolling
2. J-Draw
3. Classical Draw
4. Sculling Draw
5. Sweep stroke
6. Low Brace
7. High Brace
8. Bow Rudder
9. Hanging Draw

Doing a sweep roll was especially easy due to the lift of the wing. The paddle felt like it was stuck in concrete. On the other hand sculling for support was impossible to do with the blade constantly diving down.

I switched to a regular paddle after paddling 8km with the wing and something funny happened. The blade would "pop" out of the water during the exit phase as if there was no resistance. Can understand why people say using a standard paddle after getting used to a wing is like paddling with a wet noodle.

Borrowed Sam's paddle at 0 degree feather angle and it feels odd. Low angle paddling is fine but when I switched to high angle paddling, I just couldnt get it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Best I can afford

I really really can't justify spending $800 for the Epic paddle. Even if its the best paddle in the world, spending so much money just doesn't feel right for me.

My final choice is ONNO Paddles. It is a one man show and the guy selling the paddle to you is the guy who actually makes it. Sorta like a cottage industry. He makes the paddles individually by hand.

The design is basically a Epic rip off, but I think the ferrule system is unique. The shaft length and feather angle are adjustable.

Will be getting a carbon/glass composite blade with 205cm-215cm adjustment and will be requesting that the blade tips be reinforced.
Here's what the blade looks like.

Reviews say this blade has a strong dihedral, which would explain why they never flutter. But other high end blades tend to lose the dihedral in favour of smoother strokes.

Oh well, I'll take a gamble for this one. Besides, its US$250, much cheaper than the Epic or Werner.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This time, canoeing training was not that strenous on the muscles but seemed to focus more on cardio. We had to run round a track and I could feel that burning sensation in my chest and stitch that I always get when I run. Luckily the stitch went away after a while. But I just cant stand that burn in my chest, damn it. My mind is still fresh but my body just cant take it. Must really look like I chao keng because I dont look tired after my heart rate lowers.
Seriously need to work on my cardio fitness.
But, I disagree with the training method leh. Training that time cannot laugh. I thought the whole point of training in a group is to make it fun. Then the guy leading training has an elitist attitude. Saying things like "if you fall out now you are a loser" and "go away I dont want to see you" when someone couldnt take it anymore.Group trainings are perfect for supporting each other, but that certainly isn't supportive at all.

On another note, I would like to thank some awesome paddlers. They are Enric, Jun Bin and Yong Hui for sharing their knowledge. Especially to Jun Bin and Yong Hui for helping someone you've never even met.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jack of All Trades

Just today, I completed a 1 Star Course for canoe polo players and competitive canoeists from Ngee Ann Poly. These 2 days really proved me right regarding my theory that coaches should be trained in multiple disciplines.
Instead of simply teaching the participants the skills, knowledge in the various paddling disiciplines enables a coach to relate to them helping them understand the techniques and why they are being taught that way.
For example, the J-Draw and Classical Draw. You would not recommend a classical draw to a polo player, it is simply not aggressive enough.
Also, multi-disicipline knowledge will allow the coach to give examples of situations where the paddlers can apply their skills. Like in the case of the low brace, where canoe polo players can brace themselves after being tackled.

That being said, Im glad I joined the SIM canoeing team to broaden my knowledge.

On another note, Aaron told me that there are T1s and some wing paddles left behind in the boat shed at Water-Venture Kallang. Woohoo! will probably be taking one out to try on Wednesday.

Also tried Sam's all carbon Epic paddle today. There was a distinct blade flutter when I tried to pump the paddle, this is definately not a forgiving blade design due to the mild dihedral. Not a paddle for sudden bursts of speed.
Cant afford, or rather cant justify paying $900 for a full carbon Epic paddle, maybe I'll get a Werner Ikelos for $700 with a moderate dihedral. Not sure if I should settle for the $700 fiberglass carbon composite Epic.
Another gripe is the foam core makes the blade very buoyant and feels like it wants to pop out of the water at the end of the stroke. Very weird feeling.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Joined in the SIM Canoeing club's training yesterday evening. Wah, very shag. Run abit, do static exercises then run again. Very tough on the heart, can feel the strain on the final run back. Seriously need to work on my cardio...

There was alot of emphasis on bicep, tricep and middle back. I feel that we should be working on our core which would aid in balance and body rotation when paddling. The only thing strenous in paddling would be having to hold up the paddle outstretched in front of you so vertically for the entire distance you are paddling.

That aside, the people are really nice. Finally get to make some new friends in SIM. I made the right choice in joining the club.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ah Crap...

I just did a route calculation with Google Earth with their newly updated maps which include the construction at Kallang. It is only 8km, 2km shy of my original estimate of 10km.

Average timings for 10km races are about 57min to 58min. Although I must consider that the timings are of competitive canoeists in K1 kayaks using carbon wing paddles. I use a touring kayak and a heavy training canoe polo paddle, but would a change in equipment lead to covering an additional 2km distance within my usual timing?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Silent Stroke

No.. Im not talking about heart stopping moments :D
Today I went down to paddle my usual long distance route. Took me 57.21min to complete the circuit. Instead of trying to power my way through the distance, I decided to focus more on my forward stroke technique instead.
Maybe its because I got my groove on, but I managed to significantly reduce the splashing of water during my blade entry. Whats more, it did not seem so strenuous.
Im slowly seeing progress... Hopefully, joining the SIM canoeing club's sea trainings will lead to more improvement.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Freshmen Orientation Training

The SIM canoeing club's freshmen orientation training will be held next Monday! Woohoo.. finally get to join. Abit worried though, my fitness sucks. I have been nua-ing since I ORD.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


If you've been following the news recently, you would have seen or heard that Levin Angsana an SMU student fell off a 24ft keelboat during training and went missing. He was found dead a few days later.

Now those w/o knowledge of the sport will quickly say that he should have worn a lifejacket or PFD. However, it is not a rule or regulation to wear one while training or racing. Just like how you do not wear a lifejacket when you board the bum boat to Ubin or any of the Southern Islands.

Why did National sailor Renfred Tay jump in?
The victim attempted to climb back up but failed. Wouldn't it have been better for the EXPERIENCED national sailor to stay onboard and take helm? Ordering the crew to throw the victim a lifebuoy (not lifejacket) when he failed to climb aboard while he performed a man-overboard drill.

Anyone who is lifesaving trained would know that what Renfred did was very risky. What ever happened to "Reach, Throw, Row"? As a non-swimmer the victim could have panicked and dragged both himself and Renfred down to the bottom. Drowning the hero wanna-be.

Who's fault?
If I were to blame anyone, I would blame it on the NSAs. All they do these days is try to promote their sport to amass numbers and get funding from the government. Giving attitude when other sports get equal shots at glory.

Why do I blame them?
For this simple reason, after making the sport more accessible they impose rules and regulations instead of promoting personal responsibility and using education.

For those who didnt read the report, the victim was putting in more hours, training to be a skipper. If he had any personal responsibility, he would have at least learnt how to swim!
The requirement to get the Sailing Level 1 is to swim 50m with a PFD. But you have to remember that you don't wear one on the keelboat.
He was a liability to all aboard the vessel.

And in typical cowboy, free-world fashion, his sister is planning on taking action against SMU. Oh, come on. Please don't make Singapore intoone of those places where you get sued for every damn thing.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Here's an alternative folding kayak.

The Folbot Kiawah. Its 4.04m long. Should be more than enough... Or should I get the 5m version?

Costing much lesser at USD$1695

The drawback would be the oversized cockpit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bad practices

At a recently concluded 1 Star course, I was one of the 4 coaches who coached 50 participants.
If I had known there were going to be that many students, I wouldn't have said ok. So much time is spent transporting equipment, reducing the practice time. Large classes also means lesser individual attention and when the participants aren't too interested, its kinda tough on the coach.
I find a class size of 6-10 ideal.

I didn't agree with the other coaches practices too. There were not enough single kayaks. So we got 1 double in each group while the rest used singles. I don't find this practice ideal. Instead, I would rather have the entire group on doubles instead of just one pair.
Also, they tried to teach dry paddling on a narrow path. The participants were so spread out that those at the extreme ends hardly knew what was going on. To make things worse the person teaching was not even a coach.

I have adopted a "teach-if-interested" style when dealing with school students "forced" to attend the course. What it means is, if they're interested, I teach if not I let them sit out. This was the case of one of the participants in my group, he really didn't care much for paddling and when my group paddled 30m to raft up, he gave up and just sat there in the water. He said he wasn't interested so I towed him back, where he sat on shore and waited.

The question now is, did I do the right thing? Should I have persuaded him to try?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Muddy mud mud

Joined Mary's Ubin mangrove trip today, apparently a highly experienced coach told her that this week was ideal for going through the mangrove.
Well, either she got the direction wrong or its plain BOLLOCKS! We got stuck when we were so damned near the exit point because there was no water!!!

Here's a preview.

Rest of the pictures here

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Secret Training & Limiting Mindsets

I've secretly taught 4 friends who to roll in a kayak. I feel like I have to apologize to the first person I've ever tried teaching because he was like a guinea pig to me. It took him quite some time before he successfully managed to roll. Don't think I helped much.
But when I can get Huan Da the jelly belly up and rolling, I know for sure Im getting somewhere. Earlier on, I had a more rigid approach, teaching only the C to C roll. But recently, I showed both the Sweep and C to C letting whoever was trying to learn to have a feel of both.
Although Huan Da's roll isn't perfect, its a start. He has at least a 70% chance of successfully completing the roll. Not bombproof, but an important step nonetheless. This allows him to concentrate more on improving technique rather than trying to get out of the water.
I also taught a "technique" where he floats himself to the surface after a failed rolling attempt to get a breath before attempting to roll again.

Regarding the issue on fiberglass kayaks on sand, I've spoken to a few people and it just seems that some coaches have very rigid mindsets. Since most coaches learn by emulating, it is only natural for them to emulate their instructors or mentors. I guess its a matter of whether they question the methods and filter out the useless stuff.
I am still new to coaching, so I will stick around Water-Venture for a little longer. Gaining experience till the time I feel that Im stagnating.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Something New

I've decided to try something new. And that is to join the SIM canoeing team. You might ask what is so new about me joining a canoeing club, but this is competitive canoeing which I have never done before.
In fact I've only tried the T1 twice and a wing paddle once. With training 3 times a week, it will take alot of commitment. I am considering putting Scouting on hold.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hat Trick

Literally... a hat trick. The Top Hat Roll.

"This can be performed with any prop, but a top hat is traditional. The paddler must be able to roll one-handed. For a right-handed roll he removes the top hat from his head with his right hand and capsizes to the left. As the boat settles upside-down the still-dry hat is placed on the upturned hull with the right hand. It is retrieved with the left hand as the roll is completed with the right hand and placed, still dry, back on the head"

A Stroke of Luck

After being pissed off on Saturday while I was at Pasir Ris, I decided not to go back again yesterday. Instead I went paddling in Kallang with Huan Da and Edwin. It was yet another day full of coincidences, we met Sam, Kian Seng and some canoeists from the SIM canoeing team. I previously sent an email to them trying to get more info because I was interested in joining.

Anyway, here are some pics

The rest of them can be found here

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Crummy Weather

Was supposed to paddle round Ubin today but there were delays due to the foul weather. This led us to change the plan and we paddled through the mangrove swamp instead.

Found this toy floating in the water...
Rest of the pics are here

Quite pissed with the staff at the club though.
For a simple 3hr paddle round Ubin, the expedition leader must show a expedition plan and brief the club manager and the club manager must give a briefing to the participants.
I was planning to paddle at Pasir Ris more often and so wanted to leave my PFD in their trainer's room. But the CM say cannot! Huh? I not trainer meh? Only can put overnight?
Also, got reprimanded by Bernard for allowing one of the paddlers to do a solo emptying of the kayak by placing the bow on the beach while lifting the stern. I told him it was perfectly fine but he insists that it isnt. In the end, I just told him I would not accept anything w/o any justification so I'll check first. If I'm wrong I'll apologise and begin advocating his recommendation of not allow paddlers to empty the kayak with one end on the beach.

Monday, June 2, 2008

New personal record

The last time I went on an kayak expedition was in 2007. Im not including the trips I've made to the Merlion because, thats not really considered a sea journey.
I decided to join the SAFYC Changi to East Coast kayaking trip organised by Asian Detours to give myself a rough idea of how I would fair in next week's round Ubin paddle. A return trip is approximately 20km, which is the farthest I have ever paddled in a day.
It took me about 1.5hrs to paddle 10km so I think the round Ubin trip will last at least 4 hours including time for lunch and rest.

Rest of the pics are here

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Change in plans

The new schedule:

7th : Round Ubin Day Expedition (R.U.D.E) = 22km
8th: Pasir Ris - Punggol Marina = 14km
12th: Pasir Ris - Punggol Marina - Pasir Ris = 14km
14th: Pasir Ris - Ubin Mangrove - Pasir Ris = 12km???
25th: Pasir Ris - Punggol Marina - Pasir Ris = 14km

Can't go to frog island any more due to conservation.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Inflatable Kayak

A cheaper alternative to the $4500 folding kayak would be the Sonnet 16. Designed by Tom Yost. He has designed some beautiful kayaks. From aluminium frame foldables to wood frame kayaks to inflatables.

Since I am without any proper metal working or wood working skills. I am focusing on the inflatable. Kinda hard to ask those workers in the metal shop to do it for you too, because they only know how to do hands on. They are not thinkers.

Here are some pics:

Many other kayak designs are available Tom Yost's Website

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Believe it or not!

Here's some interesting things you may not know if you are a kayaker from Water-Venture.
  1. The 2 star cross channel rule is a Water-Venture rule. You do not need 2 Star to cross channel unless you are renting kayaks from Water-Venture, then you obviously have to follow their rules.
    However, it is compulsory to have 1 star if you want to paddle in reservoirs.

  2. The slaloms in Water-Venture aren't really slaloms. Don't know what to call them either, but they are some sort of fibreglass touring boats.
    The picture below shows a slalom.

    Picture by Ofiserinf on Flickr

  3. There are kayaks other than the Bandit, Turbo, Dancer and "Slalom" (:
    A sea kayak and a play boat are shown below.

  4. Paddle blades come in many shapes and sizes. Here' are asymmetric paddle blades for high angle and low angle paddling