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.