Sunday, March 6, 2011

How do different design characteristics of a boat effect its performance?

Canoes and kayaks are designed in many different ways.  Boats are usually designed in those ways with certain performance characteristics in mind.  Not all boats are built to do the same thing and accordingly, when a boat is designed, the shape of the boat is made so that the hull can perform well for the conditions it was made for.  The Old Town Canoe Company (http://www.oldtowncanoes/) has a good outline of hull characteristics and the purpose of those characteristics.  Below is an outline.

Canoe Anatomy: Size & Cross Section*

Longer canoes will have greater hull speed, better tracking and greater potential for carrying capacity. Shorter canoes will be more maneuverable and lighter in weight.

Width, or beam, as it is called, is given in two measurements: the beam at the gunwale and the beam at the 4" waterline. The 4" waterline beam has the greatest influence on performance. Wide-beamed canoes offer great stability but may be somewhat slow. Narrow canoes may be less stable but afford better efficiency and hull speed.

Greater depth allows for increased carrying capacity and better water-shedding ability. However, deep canoes can be harder to handle in windy conditions and will be heavier. The shape of the bottom of the canoe and how it blends with the sides will influence its performance. Stability of a canoe is affected greatly by its cross section.

Entry Lines
The shape of the bow where it cuts the water will have an effect on the canoe's performance. A very sharp, knife-like entry will cut through the water easily and provide efficiency. A blunt bow will add fullness and give buoyancy in waves, thus a drier ride.

Symmetrical canoes have identical ends, bow and stern. They offer more-versatile designs and convert more readily from tandem to solo. Asymmetrical canoes are usually designed for a particular specialty.

Flat Bottom
Flat bottom canoes offer great initial stability; that is, they feel very secure on calm water. Flat bottom canoes are great for sportsmen and general recreationalists looking for steadiness.

Shallow Arch Bottom
Shallow arch bottom canoes have less initial stability than flat bottom canoes, but good secondary stability. As the canoe is leaned, it will balance on its side and resist further tipping. Shallow arch canoes work well in waves and whitewater. Shallow arch bottom canoes offer the best all-around performance.

Round Bottom
Round bottom canoes have very little initial stability, but may have good or even great secondary stability. They are designed for speed and efficiency. Round bottom canoes are usually fast, specialized canoes.

A keel will help tracking in short canoes and will help the canoe's resistance to crosswinds. Keels also work well on canoes used with outboard or electric motors, as they decrease sideslipping. They would not be appropriate on a canoe used in whitewater or situations where quick maneuvers are essential.

Flair, Tumblehome, Straight-sided
Design options for the sides of the canoe include flare, tumblehome or straight-sided. Flare will shed water and increase secondary stability. Tumblehome gives a narrower beam at the gunwale, which allows for easier paddling. Depending on where, with reference to the waterline, the tumblehome begins, this may decrease stability, (historically this feature began at the waterline, decreasing stability, hence itÕs name "tumblehome", in general, tumblehome on our boats begins at least 4" above the waterline at maximum capacity so as not to detract from stability). Straight-sided canoes are a compromise of the two. Many canoes will incorporate one, two or all three of these in different areas of the hull.

Canoe Anatomy: Rocker**

The curve of the keel from bow to stern is called rocker

Straight Line

A straight keel line has no rocker, which allows for exceptional tracking ability but lacks maneuverability.

Moderate Rocker

Moderately rockered canoes are usually straight with a rise toward the ends. Most general recreation canoes have a moderate rocker.

Heavy Rocker

An extremely rockered keel line offers exceptional maneuverability but will not track well.

*(the above Canoe Anatomy: Size and Cross Section information is found on The Old Town Canoe Company's website here:

**(the above Canoe Anatomy: Rocker information on is found on The Old Town Canoe Company's website here:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Missouri River 340 (ultra marathon) equipment list

Again, I am going to deviate from the simple FAQs and answer a specific question.  That question is, what was the equipment you used for the MR340?  To answer that question, you can find a checklist below of the equipment we brought for the race.  Keep in mind that the equipment was based on a fully supported team with the expectation of attempting to obtain a top 10 finish.  As you can see, the list is broken down as to what each member of the LHP team is going to bring.  We felt that this was a good way distribute responsibility in our team of 5.
Admittedly, this list is very exhaustve and takes into account many emergency situations that never happened.  Our motto was the Boy Scout motto, be prepared!  Believe me, that is good advice.

Please know that this list is just what we used.  Each team has a different take on what they think is necessary.  Plan accordingly to your team's needs as it may be different.  Hopefully though, you can use our list as a baseline for assistance.

*Please note that we have used this list for other ultra marathons with support rules similar to the MR340.  In my opinion, we were well prepared for each race when we brought these items.  If you have questions about the specific items and what they were used for, please ask.


Wally’s List
q       Drinking systems
q       Laminated map cards
q       Navigation lights and batteries
q       Head/spot light and batteries
q       Glow sticks
q       4 Space blankets
q       Weather radio
q       Canoe repair kit
q       Spot GPS
q       Missouri map
q       Energy/electrolyte drink mix
q       Power Gel
q       Chafing ointment
q       Los Humungos outfits
q       Los Humungos shirts
q       Travel storage containers
q       Cytomax??
q       Personal gear

Nick’s List
q       Boost
q       5 Hour Energy
q       Beef jerky
q       Power Gel
q       Breakfast sandwiches
q       Wet wipes and A & D Ointment
q       Toilet paper
q       Black bag
q       Personal gear

Anita’s List
q       Cookies
q       Food
q       Stickers
q       Gatorade- G2
q       Tent and ground cloth
q       2 sleeping bags and pillows
q       Stove, fuel, lighter and cook kit
q       Sun screen
q       Moleskin
q       Extra film can
q       Chapstick
q       Imodium and prunes
q       Batteries- 12 double As
q       Phone and jack
q       Baby powder
q       4 bandanas
q       Camera
q       2 shopping bags
q       2 fleeces
q       Guide booklets
q       Personal gear

Belem’s List
q       Motrin, NoDoz, Pepto Bismol, Tums and Visine
q       Antiseptic ointment and bandages  
q       Bug repellent
q       Phone and jack
q       Computer for networking
q       2 air mattresses
q       Reflector tape
q       Personal gear

George’s List
q       Spot light and battery charger
q       2 ice chests
q       Square water tray for van
q       2 water containers
q       2 alarm clocks
q       2 walky-talkies
q       Male urine bottles
q       Umbrella
q       Extra duct tap
q       Personal gear

First Aid Kit
q       Band-aids
q       Antiseptic ointment
q       Motrin
q       Molskin
q       Visine
q       Antacid (pink Pepto)
q       NoDoz
q       Electrolyte tablets
q       Salt tablets
q       2 bandanas
q       Whistle
q       Small jackknife

I hear the term K1, K2, C1, and C2. What does it mean?

K1, K2, K4, C1, C2, C4, C6, OC1, OC2, OC6...

The letter indicates what kind of boat it is and the number is how many paddlers the boat is made for.
K = Kayak
C = Canoe
OC = Outrigger Canoe

C1 = Solo Canoe
C2 = Tandem Canoe
C4 = Four Paddler Canoe
C6 = Six Paddler Canoe

K1 = Solo Kayak
K2 = Tandem Kayak
K4 = Four Paddler Kayak

OC1 = Solo Outrigger Canoe
OC2 = Tandem Outrigger Canoe
OC6 = Six Paddler Outrigger

See how this works?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is that a kayak or a canoe?


I am always supprised how many times I am asked this question.  My first reaction is to say, "why that is a silly question, how can you not tell?"  Fortunately, before I say those words, I engage my brain (sometimes - ha ha)  and step back for a moment and remember what I am paddling.  Often what I paddle does not resemble a canoe in canoe's traditional sense or even a kayak.  So I have to remember why one type of boat is considered a canoe and one type of boat considered a kayak.  It is with this in mind this  
in mind that I answer the question.

The top picture is me training in a USCA spec style racing canoe (picture taken by Rich Hodgkins).  The above picture is an overhead profile view of a canoe with the same specs (J203 from   Since it looks very different from what is considered a "traditional" looking canoe, it can be confusing.

Generally, a canoe is considered a boat with an open hull (see the above picture).  A canoe is most often paddled with a single bladed paddle and does not have a rudder.  Remember I said these are generalizations, more on that later. 

Wenonah Minnesota II

V1 tandem USCA racing canoe

On the othe hand, a kayak is a type of boat that has a closed hull.  Generally a kayak is paddled with a double bladed paddle.  Sometimes a kayak has a rudder, sometimes a kayak does not.

ICF spec racing kayak, Legacy KL by Epic (
QCC, Q700X (
Current Designs Unity Tandem Kayak (

As you can see the main difference is the hull being closed on a kayak and not being closed on a canoe.

**A surfski is most often considered within kayak classes (surfskis will be a future blog post topic)


There are some boats out there that are hybrids of both a kayak and a canoe.  These are the exceptions to the "generalizations."  On the racing scene, many of the unlimited boats fall into tis category.  They are canoes with rudders, canoes with some decking, and canoes with some decking and rudders.  These boats are often paddled with both single bladed (canoe)paddles and double bladed (kayak) paddles.  For the most part, while they are hybrid in nature, most often they are called canoes.  These hybrid canoes are popular in ultra marathons.

A Sawyer Loon

A "Safari" style unlimited hybrid canoe

Another "Safari" style unlimited solo
A 3 person unlimited canoe with a rudder (note the deck is fabric and not part of the hull)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Some Ultra Marathon tips (part 1)

*I can not recomend using a nutritional suppliment like Boost, Ensure, Slimfast, Spiz, ect. enough.  There are a lot of them out there.  My favorites are Boost and Ensure.  Boost and Ensure seem to be the most economical in terms of bang for your buck.  Nutritional Suppliments seem to go down when it is hard to eat anything else.  If nothing else, you should carry them as a just in case thing.

* If you use Boost for the above reasons. Take off the seal under the cap before the race.  They are hard to take off during the race.

*Hand held microwave Campbell's chicken noodle soup is an awsome way to get both calories and salt.  Also, they are easy to cary and easy to eat during a race.  This fact is true if you are supported or unsupported.

*Bring either saltines or oyster crackers for the race.  In terms of an epic failure of your body rejecting all food, saltines and/or oyster crackers are the best baseline food of trying to at least get something digested.

*At night, if you eat apples, it will help keep you awake.  My doctor told me this one.   I do not know why it works, but it does work.

*If you can get it, a meal from McDonalds during a hard part of a race (example-morning of day 2) can sometimes go down better than any other food.

What should I eat for a canoe race?

I am going to jump forward a bit in regards to the info that I have been posting on this blog.  My idea was to start very simple and then work toward more complicated things later.  Well, that is still my plan, but I have had a couple of requests on blog subjects recently.  Rather than ignore those, I thought I would just simply address them as they are asked.  In the mean time when I have no questions asked from others, I will just continue to answer some FAQs that are asked of me.

One question that some one asked me recently is what should I eat for canoe race?

I will take on this question with three types of races in mind.  A race between 1 to 3 hours, a race from 3 to 8 hours, and a race over 8 hours. 

A 1 to 3 hour race:
Generally, I do not eat during a race that is 1 to 3 hours.  During the race, I carry gel packs such as Hammer Gel, or Power Gel and use them about once every hour, or if I am feeling a bit fatigued.  As with all races, it is important that you eat right prior to the race and that is the key to eating for a 1 to 3 hour race.  I eat tons of carbs the night before a race.  The day of the race, I eat a light breakfast with some protien.  Since races are generally in the morning, usually your body does not break down your breakfast into energy prior to the race.  I breakfast in the morning helps, but should not be relied on to give you the energy you need for a race.  In an emergency, a nutritional drink such as Ensure, Boost, or Slimfast can be drank.  The nutrients in those drinks are more easily absorbed by your body and can be more easily turned into energy if your body needs it.

A 3 to 8 hour race:
As I said before, eating before the race is very important.  I will not get into that too much here as there are a lot of very good articles on the internet that cover the subject of the proper things to eat before an athletic event.  Check out ones that cover what to eat before a marathon or a triathlon.  I like those best.  Before the race I carb up eating loads of carbs one to two days before the race.  I know that there are other techniques out there in terms of what to eat, but carbo loading is what I do.  Before the race, I make sure that I eat a good breakfast with fruit and protien.  Oranges are a good food to eat because it provides your body with sugars that can be broken down and used as quick fuel.  Also, I make sure that I drink one or perhaps two Boosts.  During the race, it is very important to make sure that your body is well fueled.  Otherwise you will bonk.  If the race is closer to 3 or 4 hours, you can rely more solely on power gels.  If the race is longer than 4 hours, it is important that you make sure that your body has the fuel necessary to finish the race.  Also, you need to make sure that your body is spending the least amount of energy possible on breaking down food.  You want your body to spend its energy on racing.  Generally, in a 3 to 8 hour race, I will try to start eating at about hour 2 or 3.  In addition to my fluids and gels (which I try to eat about every hour or hour and a half), I generally will eat 5 things.  I like to eat oranges, apples, bananas, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and Boost/Ensure.  I eat these things because generally, they provide the nutrients you need during the race, they are quick to eat, and they go down easy.  Generally the Boost/Ensure is the staple of the group and I try to make sure I get one down every one to two hours.  Oranges and bananas are easy to stuff in your mouth and they slide down easy.  PB&H sandwiches give me a little variety and a bit of a boost at times.  Oh and one last LHP tip here on this, if you do not like the fruits above, or if you want to take an additional fruit that goes down quick as a pick me up.  Try the fruit drinks made for babys.  They are easier for your body to process and usually go down quick and easy.  My favorite is pear.  :-)

A race over 8 hours
A race over 8 hours is where things get a bit more complicated.  Generally in a race your body will burn more calories than it you can consume and process.  With this inmind, that is what makes a longer race more tricky.  You have to keep your body running as long as possible without falling to far into a calorie deficit and thus bonking.  The longer the race, the harder this is to do.  Here is what I try to do to put my body in the best position in terms of caloric energy before a race over 8 hours.  The week before the race, I EAT EAT EAT!  Specifically, beginning 3 days before the race, I try to eat a balanced diet with a ton of carbs.  My carbo load increases until the night before the race.  The day of the race, I try to eat a hardy breakfast with a large amount of protien.  I throw some Boost/Ensure into the system too.  When the race starts, I start eating about an hour into the race.  I do this even if I am not hungry.  In my opinion, this is one of the most important things I do in an ultra marathon.  You need to provide fuel that is going to keep your body going.  In my opinion, the earlier you do it, the better.  I really do not have a firm nutritional basis for what I do when I start eating in an ultra, my main goal is to provide my body with fuel.  At the beginning of the race, it is easier as your body is not as fatigued.  I eat my staple I talked about in the 3 to 8 hour races.  In addition, I throw in other things such as power bars, trail mix, m&ms, jerkey, and chicken noodle soup.  The longer and harder the race is, the harder it is to continue to eat.  When it gets hard to eat, I will eat whatever my body will accept (I will not go into what my body does when it is rejected-you can use your imagination).  Things that work best are bananas, Boost/Ensure, chicken noodle soup, oranges, apples, and baby juices.  Apples are great in an ultra, but I will get more specific on that in a later blog post.  Just get down what ever you can.  In my opinion, the Boost/Ensure is very important because it provides your body with quick calories that are easy to break down and chicken noodle soup is also important because it helps your body replenish salt that it has lost.  Both Boost/Ensure and chicken noodle soup always seem like they can go down OK, even in the worst of conditions.  One other important note, do not rely on gel packs for sustained energy.  You can use them for an energy boost, but do not rely on them for sustained energy.  If used as your main source of energy, gel packs will work for a while, but ultimately, the energy provided by them will not be sustained and you will go into a caloric energy deficit.  They are like fools gold.  Be especially careful of this, because it is easy to rely on gel packs when your body starts rejecting food.  At first it seems OK, but it will end up hurting you in the long run  *The most critical thing to remember is to eat eat eat, both before and during an ultra race.  Not eating well for an ultra will hinder your efforts every time.*   

Please note, that there are many different strategies out there in terms of eating and racing.  The above is just my thoughts on the subject gained through years of racing and practical experience.  Every year I learn more and more on this subject.

sorry about not posting for a while

I had trouble with my password, so I have not been able to log on for a while.  Sorry about that.  On with the blog.