vTNR#8

Saturday, May 29, 12021 HE

It is week eight of the virtual Tuesday Night Race (vTNR) series being put on by Coast Outdoors through Deep Cove Kayak. Here is a general overview of the event.

Here are the links to my past posts on the vTNR series: vTNR#1vTNR#2vTNR#3vTNR#4vTNR#5vTNR#6, and vTNR#7.

And this is the link to the course this week on webscorer. The image below is the route and here is the link to the course in Google Maps. There was also a short 4 km course this week which is shown in red on the latter link.

Tuesday Night Race Week 8 local course route.

And below is an aerial view that a friend, Wil, sent me from his office window. The cockpit aerial gives a great overview of this section of Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm with the TNR starting point of Boulder Island in the centre of the fjord.

An aerial view of Indian Arm. Photo by Wilson Frost.

I launched from my usual spot, Lowry Waterfront Park, and the water was quiet and calm at 06:00. As I made my way over to Boulder Island the sun was rising over the top of Eagle Mountain in the background.

Sunrise over Eagle Mountain.

Here are a few more artistic shots of the sunrise.

Sunrise light refraction.

And below is a bokeh photo of the light refraction. I had a phase around 2012 when I was really into bokeh photos. My wife, Annie, hated it as she felt I was ruining what would have been a good photo. The photo below is a still shot from a video so I suspect the camera autofocused for a few frames on the waves or the light to put the background out of focus. I guess this image could just be an unfocused image, rather than a bokeh image, as there arguably is no in-focus target.

Bokeh sunrise.

And here is the view of the starting line as I round the southeast corner of Boulder Island. Pretty glassy.

Approaching the starting line.

The racecourse started with a straight shot to Lone Rock Lighthouse. This was my first time paddling to Lone Rock so I was paddling blind, to begin with, though I had looked at a map the previous day. I aimed for what felt like a straight line and kept an eye out for the lighthouse. En route, I ended up convincing myself that three different objects in the distance were each the lighthouse before getting a visual to lock in a heading.

In search of Lone Rock Lighthouse.

It was pretty distinct when I actually got to it. Just as I was approaching the lighthouse I heard some water sounds to my port stern side. I glance back to see another SUPer quickly gaining water on me.

Approaching Lone Rock Lighthouse.

As he got within earshot we exchanged pleasantries. I asked the obvious question, “Are you doing the TNR?” to which he replied, “Yes. Great morning for it!”. I agreed as he passed by as we entered the turn around the lighthouse.

A fellow racer leaves me in his wake!

I did a pivot turn around the lighthouse and cut it fairly close. The other paddler took a wider birth just doing sweep strokes, but as we rounded the first turn he was off and away. He was on a Starboard board (I would later find out it was a 2021 Starboard All Star) and after he passed I was left wondering a question I have been contemplating for some time, how much of a difference does gear make? Now, I realize there is a bit of an underlying hubristic assumption here, in that asking the question at this moment presumes that I think I am faster. However, I did check this assumption, as I recall years ago being in a charity run when I was overpassed by a runner who I felt at the time should not have passed me based on appearances. Looks can be deceiving, or as I like to joke in my more athletic youth that I was all show and no go. In a running event technology and/or equipment should play little to any role at the moment. So here was an instance where my athletic hubris was put in check! Perhaps this was another instance.

In any case, assumptions aside, as I had ample time to contemplate on my morning paddle I revisited the question of how much gear makes a difference in some of these gear-based sports. I had already been thinking about this question in the past months since I am considering getting a new board and I am curious as to how much of a difference a new board could make to my paddling.

I grew up playing basketball as my sport of choice. And while having the latest pair of Jordans on might have given you a fraction of a competitive edge, there was no way in heck it was making a scrub into a baller (to use some of the vernacular of the time). But I have always wondered how much of a difference gear can make in other sports, with cycling and paddling coming to mind. For a great TED Talk on this very topic check out this one by David Epstein (not to be confused with Jeffrey Epstein) from 2014 entitled Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? Epstein argues that the improvement in sports accomplishments at the Olympic level in the last 50 years is mainly due to technological advancements and not changes in athlete development or prowess. This even holds true in the 100-meter sprint though his comparison is influenced by track surface material changes and not just footwear.

The conclusion of my morning cogitation was once again that in certain sports the gear must contribute substantially. I plan to test my conjecture objectively this summer by trialing some different board types to get a better sense of what to get as a new board if any.

Below is the view towards Jug Island, the next racecourse feature, from the Lone Rock Lighthouse.

The view towards Jug Island.

And below is a photo of my racemate quickly making ground (water?) on me. Thankfully we would be in different race categories as my board is less than 12 feet long. Again, raising the question in my mind as to how much of a difference does something like board length change speed versus board type (e.g. shape, material, weight, hard vs. inflatable, etc.)? Was this guy kicking my ass simply because he had an extra foot or more of board length or was it a combination of that plus board type? Was he a freakishly superhuman paddler? Or what combination of the aforementioned were his secret sauce?

En route to Jug Island.

Here is the view a little closer to Jug Island. You can see the lighthouse marking the point to the entrance of Bedwell Bay at the left of the image. The lighthouse was the turning point for the week three TNR course.

Almost at Jug Island.

Here is a nice view of Jug Island Beach as I round the northeast coast of Jug Island.

A view of Jug Island Beach.

And looking out of the channel between Jug Island on the right and the point at Cosy Cove on the left.

Looking out toward the fjord.

After getting around the point at Cosy Cove it was a straight shot again down to Boulder Island. Here is the view south-southwest out of the fjord.

The view out of Indian Arm.

Below is the view approaching Hamber Island from the north.

Hamber Island.

And then the view of Boulder Island with the Hamber Island Lighthouse just visible and the tip of Hamber Island silhouetted in the left of the photo.

Back to Boulder Island.

Below is a bit closer view of the north side of Boulder Island.

The north side of Boulder Island.

And as I rounded the south side of Boulder Island I came across a gaggle of geese.

The Boulder Island boulder and a gaggle of geese.

Here the gaggle of geese is getting away in formation.

Geese gaggle getaway.

And finally back to the beginning again with my fellow racer patiently awaiting my arrival. We had a chat in which we discussed board technology and he concurred with my prior contemplative conclusions. This is when he divulged the make and model of his board. He was riding on the 24.5-inch wood carbon construction. Interestingly, he gave me two insights into the dugout board design which I likely would not have considered as he did not until after purchasing his board. The first was that a friend commented on the risk of injury if he was to fall on one of the raised rails of the dugout design. He said he had not even considered this until his friend suggested it. The other insight was that the dugout design accumulates some water in the hull despite there being drain holes. The issue with this is that he found that his bare feet would get cold from being in a little bit of water constantly. You can negate these issues by not falling and wearing booties, the latter being easier than the former. But still, things to consider.

The finish line!

And one last scenic shot looking north from the dock at Boulder Island.

Looking north up Indian Arm with Hamber Island on the left.

Below is my route recorded with Google Fit.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

And my statistics from Google Fit are below.

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

And here is the link for this week’s results.

And if you made it this far, below is some video footage of me playing around with some pivot turns and a bow-side paddle stroke to turn you towards the same side. I wasn’t sure what the stroke was called, so I was going to christen it the nose side ipsilateral stroke. But after doing a little more research I came across the “crossbow turn” stroke (for a few other video links see the following: Blue Planet SurfFanatic InternationalRob Casey). Essentially this is the same stroke I am working on in the video below but on the ipsilateral (i.e. same ) side. So, rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I think a more apt name would be the bow turn or ipsilateral bow turn.

In the video, you can just see my paddle shaft in the water holding steady in the camera angle as the board turns. Essentially, you are putting the blade into the water parallel to your board. It can be either the power face or the back face. The stroke can be used to turn or just to keep you going straight while paddling on one side so that you don’t have to change your paddle over. As mentioned, the crossbow turn is a similar stroke on the contralateral (i.e. opposite) side to turn the board while maintaining some forward momentum. As opposed to a reverse sweep stroke where the board will come to a halt.

In the video below I almost bite it when I miscalculate how far back on my board I am. I end up getting my paddle shaft caught on the backside of my board as I try to do a full sweep stroke during a pivot turn. I almost bite it again when I lose my line of sight and get off balance. Worth a watch in my opinion. You can’t get better if you don’t push yourself and risk falling in. 😀

Timelapse video of the Week 7 TNR Course.

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