Adventure race training: rocking the boat

By Josephine Sargent November 8, 2013
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Team Australian Geographic Adventure struggles to pull together for their early morning paddles.

JUST PADDLE AS IF you’re punching the person in front of you in the head,” coach Ben, from Northbridge Kayaks, said, encouragingly to improve our paddling style. He didn’t realise how little prompting I needed. Not that I was going to actually assault our First Reserve, AG art director Mike Rossi, but the frustration was building. Our problem? We were zigzagging across the bay like a slow, bright-orange snake.

Last week, Jo, Amy and I piled into our quad kayak for the first time. Just quietly, I was glad that Jo was now unable to leave Amy and I in her bow waves – she was stuck with us. And, I was hoping to be able to maybe mimic some of her graceful style to make the Woman v Kayak battle swing a little in my favour.

I think we even surprised Ben with our ability to coordinate our strokes and power our quad along. Amy – after a few false starts discerning left from right – was vocal in her instructions and it kept us all in line. As chief rudder woman, I was able to stick my paddle into the water and steer the boat easily that way.

We were relaxed, having fun – and communicating. The effects could be seen in our smooth gliding and minimal need of my rudder/paddle. There was one small incident where we almost got caught up in a bunch of rowers in single sculls, but we don’t need to talk about that.

Back to the drawing board

There are four events in the Paddy Pallin Adventure Race Series. We are hoping to enter all of them. The first is on 16 October (just five weeks away *panic*) but due to the wedding bug that’s bitten my friends I’ll be out of action for the 27 November race in Canberra. Enter First Recruit, Mike ‘Moodle’ Rossi.

This morning he hopped into the boat with us and pandemonium ensued. Not that this was Moodle’s fault. I played a late game of basketball last night. Amy forgot her hat. Jo was cold. I think we were all just a little off our game – which happens, says Ben. “Even on race days, you can have a bad boat day,” he said. “You just need to slow down, strip it back to the bare bones – paddle in time, watching just one side, and remember the basics.”

We didn’t paddle in time. I couldn’t hear Amy’s instructions as she called them out of her bright, pink hood. We over corrected. The front two paddlers (not naming names) were trying to steer by pulling harder on one side – causing us to get even more out of line. I was slow on the rudder uptake, causing a few near misses with moored yachts and at least two collisions with other kayakers in our session. But, in typical Murphy’s law fashion, we managed to get it together in the last 100 m before we hit Northbridge Kayak’s HQ. Which was kind of ideal, considering AG’s picture editor Chrissie Goldrick was standing front and centre, camera at the ready to capture us in action.

Ben reckons we learnt a good lesson today – what not to do. This morning showed us what can happen when just one element – namely a new crew member – is changed in a boat and what we should do to overcome it: Relax. Slow down. Basics.

Got it.

Session Summary
Josie: “It would be easier to keep a bathtub on course”
Amy: “I crossed the line first this week! (Easier when you’re sitting at the front of a quad)”
Jo: “Four paddles are better than one – if they’re in time that is”
Moodle: “Boys rock the boat!”