Posts Tagged kayak training

Product Review: RPC3 Wing Blade Paddle is very very good!

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How’s training going? I can tell you that with the purchase of a new paddle and my first ever fully carbon fibre paddle that training is going very well mainly because of the paddle I chose as the one to get me through the Yukon River Quest in a couple of months. The RPC3 wing blade paddle has what I needed in both price and overall performance. I have only used a wing blade on a pair of occasions in the past and though short-lived I seemed to take to the feel and different style of paddling.

Having never kayaked or paddled with aggression before this new world of finding more performance and speed from both myself and my kayak is new to me. I knew that the long distances required to get me all the way from Whitehorse to Dawson City were daunting and my old faithful straight paddle would most likely take its toll on my shoulders over time. I needed to go faster, easier and longer.

I chose to go with a paddle maker I had not heard about but after reading a few reviews and seeing the price point I decided to give Recreational Products of the Carolinas a shot. With baited breath I waited until one day upon coming home from work I found a long box leaning up against my front doorstep. My mail courier is also a kayaker and must had guessed as to the what this was and dropped it off directly! I changed and got on the lake as fast as I could. On glass flat waters in February I took the first tentative strokes with the new paddle hoping against hope that I had made the right choice in style and size. I was not disappointed. Though I had to work on my forwards stroke and adapt to what this paddle wanted of me I had fun that first afternoon doing lengths of St. Mary’s Lake.

Since then, my training has increased as well as my continued refining of my forward stroke with this fine paddle. Within weeks of that initial trial paddle I found that with that refinement my flat water average speed increased notably! The blade grabs the water and sends me forward easily and though it is a more aggressive stroke than I have been used to all of these years touring in a kayak I am finding the paddle forces a more efficient style of paddling from me and that, breaking old habits can only be a good thing. Light-weight and sleek the RPC3 wing blade is a must have and rivals the other brands that I have used. Now, for its final test, 715 kms of the Yukon River!

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Before and After the Yukon River

Painted on the wall opposite Klondike Kate's cafe in Dawson City, Yukon Photo by Dave Barnes

Painted on the wall opposite Klondike Kate’s cafe in Dawson City, Yukon
Photo by Dave Barnes

I have been away from the blog for months now as life and work and all sorts seems to take my energies away from my writing time. But as I did my weekend walk from my girl friend’s palatial apartment building and down through the tranquil Ross Bay Cemetery with a cup of coffee in hand it occurred to me that three months from now I will be doing the same darn thing on a Saturday afternoon as is my tradition while she is at work, but in three months time I will be doing this stroll recovering from and hopefully revelling, and not despairing the Yukon River Quest experience.

Now that the weather has improved my training has officially begun and I have set a 20km loop around the islands north of my home on Saltspring Island. Set in Trincomali Channel it can be flat calm one day and a tossed mess of white capped waves the next, and in the case of my paddle the other evening all in one day! I am relying on all sorts of gadgets to record my times and help assess my progress…if any over the next couple of months. I feel good, the boat is great and am looking forward to bringing a kayak I built in my living room over a decade ago to the Yukon River and put myself and my kayak to the grand test of racing from Whitehorse to Dawson City, a mere 715 plus or minus kilometers against the clock and against my own fatigue.

I admit to waking up some mornings wondering what the hell I have gotten myself into this time. Then, I sit in my kayak and all is well. While blasting through wind waves the other evening, knowing full well they, and the tide were conspiring to ruin my 20km lap time I was laughing. Like riding a bike. I have not put my butt in a kayak solidly for a couple of years other than occasional evening or weekend paddles. I am starting from scratch and feeling fitter with each outing. The sun of springtime helps, and I wonder how it is for my fellow competitors who may not have the availability of luxurious backyard waters to train in, and in such nice conditions. I am lucky in where I live, and the support team I have to help me undertake the crazy task of making it so very far on my own, alone on a winding river up in the great white north under a disinterested midnight sun.

I will keep you all posted from now on with regards to training, thoughts and with luck, I will be sitting on my girlfriend’s front porch in three months time writing the opening pages of the post Yukon experience.

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Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle again…
Okay, so I have spent the better part of the past couple of years on my bum. Either putting the final edits on my most recent book The Hungry Kayaker, or organizing a wedding (my own) with only chance encounters with the water in my kayak in between. Life and the fact we down-sized to one car meant scheduling paddling times became awkward. But now, life is a little more settled and me being terminally out of work of late I have put more thought to kayaking and using it as a therapy of sorts. Life is always good on the water. No bills to pay, no worries, just keep paddling.

Paddling between the islands north of Salt Spring facing the North Shore mountains.

Paddling between the islands north of Salt Spring facing the North Shore mountains.

To that end, I have managed to get in some good late winter/ early springtime session. I managed to log nearly 40km in the past two days alone spending three hours at a time maintaining a good healthy pace. It feels good, my arms are happy (though the muscles are asking why, why, why) the hip is okay and I think all the walking (lack of car) has toned me up as well. The first paddle day was a shocker. About a month ago I took the water leaving from town and paddling 20km south to Fulford Harbour. It was a lovely calm day but that last half hour the wooden paddle, a rather heavy beast felt like lead. A few shorter paddles in the weeks ahead and slowly I am feeling the groove returning. So much so that I did back to back days as the weather was super. Repeating the town to Fulford run in just over 3 hours and a slower cruise yesterday around some of the islands north of here.

Spring is here, I suppose my cabin fever is inspiring my paddle lust to a point, but there are bigger visions in my mind’s eye. Longer paddle times, endurance, duration, food and fluid management are starting to enter into my kayak planning for each outing. This coming weekend the tide tables are in my favour, as maybe too, the lack of predicted winds for my first ever attempt to complete a circumnavigation of Salt Spring Island. I have done the paddle before, but as a three-day paddle/camping holiday spending my nights on the satellite islands as I toured around my home island. This weekend I hope to do it in one long shot. Taking advantage of the ebb tide all day to take me southwards through Sansum Narrows and with luck have most of the flood tide later that day to take me back up the other side of the island. It is ambitious since my conditioning is still a ‘work in progress’, but knowing my home waters is a plus, being able to jump out at anytime call a buddy to get me if I run out of steam, or even camping make it less daunting.

However, I know how long it takes to do town to Fulford, and keeping that solid pace I should be able to meet my goal of 12 hours. The fastest was 8 hours by my friend Gus in his speedy Epic 18 with a high performance wing blade while training for the Yukon River Quest. I’ll be in my beloved woodie with a standard kayak paddle. In all things we must keep the right perspective. I don’t care about speed at this point, just surviving!

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