Our race doctor Bryce Dyer has an informal chat asking the question which many are asking ”Are narrow race boards nuts?!!” Bryce has been borrowing a 21.5” wide Starboard Sprit race board from top SUP athlete Ryan James to help him answer the question. Race boards have been getting narrower for the past few years as Bryce has told us in his previous videos. But are narrow race boards something for only the high performance racer or are they something that an average racer can and should be looking at too? As a taller paddler at 6’3” and 88kg Bryce is the perfect person to answer this.
Apologies about the wind and background noise. This is a very informal chat with Bryce and as always very interesting stuff.
When it comes to choosing your SUP raceboard or trying to understand which class (length & type) of board will suit you best, it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re new to the sport. Our SUP race Doctor Bryce Dyer talks through the main things you need to consider when choosing the right board for you, your location and your storage needs.
There’s no better way to get you in the racing mood than launching your new race board range with a video. And at SUPboarder, Starboard have already got us saying ‘we want more!’ For over a decade Starboard have been at the top of the race board market and in the last few years they’ve allowed us to paddle faster and ride narrower boards than ever before. The graphics and colour ways of this years 2019 Starboard race boards look very similar to last years, but don’t be fooled! Starboard’s 2019 boards are more refined and have been tuned to paddle even faster.
As always, we are looking forward to getting these new boards on the water and giving you our honest feedback. But until then, here are some first look thoughts from our Race Dr Bryce Dryer on the new 2019 Starboard race board range…
“As far as things go, I’m generally cynical of SUP’s 12 month R&D cycle that we see each year. That’s the shortest of any sport or industry I’ve ever been involved with and it’s hard sometimes to see the real value to us as consumers. Despite this, having seen Fanatic’s offerings the other week, I was really keen to see what Starboards brochure had in store for us in 2019.
In my opinion, Starboards heavy adoption of deep bottom concaves from around 2015 were game changing for intermediate race paddlers such as myself. It allowed many of us who were stuck on boards of 26 inches in width or greater to suddenly go sub 25 with no loss in stability and to gain some speed in the bargain. Those bottom shapes continue to be tweaked in 2019 with the promise of yet more stability. If that’s truly the case, it sounds promising. 4 years ago, the thought of racing on a 23 inch width board seemed absurd for most of us – now it’s within reach and not just for some of us with ballerina-like balance.
Looking at the Allstar, (and depending on your power output and weight), it’s a risk that the volumes on offer are getting very high for smaller paddlers and could lead them to feel ‘corky’ or a struggle in the wind but some other brands also often offer too little. It’s impossible to please everyone but the huge choice of widths and sizes on offer here may go some way to address that. The extremely large and boxy tail changes of the 2019 Allstar design also jumped out to me. Like the concavities underneath, it looks like that feature may increase confidence to the everyman racer when manoeuvring the board. The brochure also includes a nice overlay of the 2018 vs the 2019 boards in section that illustrates the underside profile changes. For me though, the strength of the 2019 Allstar design will be purely a question of whether the new bottom profile can compensate for the potential stability lost by moving to its slightly narrower tail next year. I want to go faster but keeping its stability is a fine balancing act. The proof of the pudding will be in the paddling there I think.
The 2019 Sprint is a board I liked the look of since this year’s model came out. The 2018 model compromised some of its raw flatwater speed by accommodating the ability to handle some light open water conditions. This I feel is actually a reflection of what many of us actually see in most of our races. Again though, there is also the promise of more stability. We’ve been told that there is increased stability year on year so the question remains if this is really the case ? I personally think the elite or pro riders are so well trained they are the wrong people to be asking. It’s your novice or club level racer whose feedback is most critical here as they’ll be far more sensitive to such changes. If such racers can handle something like the 12’6 or 14ft in the 23 width here, then Starboard have really come somewhere from as a little as 2-3 years ago and we’re all going to go faster as a result. Either way, if you look beyond the practicalities and went on looks alone, it’s a great looking board to my eye.
The Ace is something of a design classic that has stood the test of time for downwinding. It’s only available as a 14ft this time around and gets a few shaping tweaks. Interestingly, it says the outline is by NASA (I’m not sure this shouldn’t be NACA – an organisation that ratifies aerofoil profiles). Either way, this is the first time I’ve seen something like this mentioned before in SUP and gives the board some credibility in its design. An increase on the tail inner width is also a nice touch as pin tails can be a handful when you want to step backwards. Whether you like or need it or not, the Ace has remained relatively the same for some years now which is only testimony to its dugout design.
The Starboard brochure finishes with its illustrations regarding their construction options. Research has shown that weight has been shown to be less critical in rowing or kayaking boats but I feel that the lower speeds and high deceleration of SUP boards when paddling may mean every kilo may well count for us. I also know that an extra couple of kilo’s can feel more uncomfortable when carrying the board around so the build choices here should not just be seen as if they are faster when on water but also with respect to your everyday experience when going from storage to the finish line and home again (plus their durability when doing so).
Lastly there are their ‘energy storage and board recoil’ performance benefits. I’m somewhat sceptical of the claim. Partly as, again, there’s no evidence out there to show this is possible with SUP’s but also that when you put energy into something, you actually get less back and it remains to be seen if what you do get back is consistently in a vector (or direction) that is actually beneficial to you moving forwards. I’d love to investigate if this is possible. I personally find this is where Starboard unnecessarily risk letting themselves down from time to time. These claims (or their occasional time trial head to head videos) appear too fast and loose in design to me to be credible. In my view, the strength of Starboards 2019 range isn’t the jargon, straplines or any dubious scientific claims – it’s actually that behind that is a well thought out range that sees comfortably small levels of evolution from 2018 that ultimately make them more useable and enjoyable when in the real world. For me, that’s going to be the main intrigue when many of us demo these soon.”
Leading the SUP racer world ranking every day, 5 years straight,
with all riders using stock production boards.
An exhausting hunt for the highest-performance and more environmentally-friendly materials, the new designs are tested by our multiple World Champions; Connor Baxter , Michael Booth, The Hasulyo brothers, Fiona Wylde and Sonni Hoenscheid. Only the best shapes survive and go to production to yet again produce more titles in 2019.
Starboard’s 2019 race range is faster and again more stable, breaking new boundaries in our sport.
For every board sold, we are picking up plastic equivalent to 200 plastic bags from our coastlines.
We also plant one mangrove for each board sold, absorbing one ton of CO2 over the next 20 years.
Live a deep blue life and paddle for the planet with us.
The ultimate speedster for flat water and chop. Instant acceleration, amazing top end speed.
The all-new 2019 Sprint – instant acceleration, direct turning and controlled stability.
A refined bottom shape with a straighter channel, flatter side planes has a faster and more stable glide.
The new extended standing area with straighter tail angle makes for more controlled trimming and buoy turning.
Flat-rockerextends the glide for fastest speed, while the sunken standing areawith high side rails gives stability and control in chop.
Carbon Sandwich. Only available in the lightest, fastest and strongest Carbon Sandwich Technology.
Target rider: Riders up to 115kg.
Key features: Boxy rails. Fast center channel, flatter tail concave, stable side planes, sunken standing area, flat rocker.
Conditions: Flat-water to small chop.
The 2019 Sprint is hands down the fastest race board we ever produced. Refinements in the standing area increase the overall comfort and control, while the improvements in bottom shape upgrade the overall stability and speed.
The downwind game-changer for choppy water and open-ocean conditions.
Narrower nose outline for less resistance and better glide through waves.
Refined nose design and rail height allows more pop and stability in chop.
Lowered nose rocker andraised tail kickhelps the swell push the board into bumps earlier and gives greater maneuverability when surfing on the tail.
Widened inside tailgives more room for greater control and comfort when surfing and in buoy turns.
High sidewalls block water entering the tray, offers increased pop & secondary stability, and greater control surfing on rail. New rounded rail edge in the sunken standing area makes for a friendlier entry getting into the board.
Target rider: Riders up to 100kg.
Key features: NASA outline with full nose and narrow tail, sunken standing area, high volume nose, curved rocker.
Conditions: Open ocean, upwind and downwind races.
All models feature new diamond grooved deck pad in the standing area. All Star and Sprint have diamond grooved tail pad for extra grip and control for buoy turns.
All models feature multiple handle mount positions for beach starts.
Our Race Dr Bryce Dyer is back with some great race observations from the 2018 SUP race season. By observing race and market race trends you can learn lots and adapt for future races, helping to ensure you’re not left at the back of the pack! Whether it’s to do with board and kit choices or the latest techniques, Bryce has some very interesting observations over the last year.
Drafting?? …What do you mean drafting? It’s a question asked by many novice paddlers at race events around the world. Most paddlers think of it as a technical racing term, but it’s not just for racers. Our race doctor Bryce Dyer gets his paddle ducks out to explain how drafting works and how best to use it. From top racers to every day paddlers, everybody can benefit from drafting. Give it a go!
The new SUP race season is almost upon us. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first time racer it’s always good to get some tips from the top to help you get the most out of your board and SUP race. Dr Bryce Dyer shares some top pre race season tips, so you get the best start before you even reach the start line!
For the fourth season in a row, Naish put out the call for 10 lucky paddlers to apply and be part of the Naish N1sco UK Team for this race season. The selected paddlers were given a board to race on in the popular one-design SUP class. These paddlers were: Victoire Binchet, Simon Day, Amy Dunmore, Mark Edwards, Elaine Farquharson, Max Jones, Ben Julian, Anna Little, Stuart Nisbett and Sarah Perkins.
As the sun will soon be setting on the 2017 UK race season, Naish went back to those paddlers to get their views on SUP, what they learned and ask how they felt about the sport…
So, how did your race season go ?
Victoire: It was lots of fun! When I set out to do it, I said I wanted to meet nice people and feel like I was improving with each race. On both counts it’s been a success. People are really nice and welcoming, and everyone is happy to share tips on the day on how to handle the conditions or how to hold your paddle for a sprint vs. longer distance. There are also lots of sub-categories for podiums which I have found really nice and inclusive (for example you get different age groups, and some races do male and female rookie of the race when it’s your first race with them).
Simon: It’s been an awesome season, not because I’ve been particularly successful but because it’s been an amazing experience. From tiptoeing around the courses in my first races at Emsworth, to getting stuck in with close racing and the all too occasional dunk in the water as my confidence and fitness has grown. It’s been brilliant to watch and chat to fellow competitors picking up help and tips as I’ve gone.
Mark: Really great (although the start was a bit dodgy!).
Elaine: Fabulous, I joined a community of friends, shared some great adventures and developed lots of new skills on the water.
Max: Amazing, I have had a great introduction into SUP Racing. I have 2 races left and I will give it my all in these last 2 as I am currently joint 2nd in the N1SCO division with UK SUP. I am gutted this season is already coming to a close but will work hard through the winter ready for next year.
Ben: Racing was always the next step for me and being part of N1SCO made it happen. It’s been a fantastic, action packed year. I was unsure what to expect at first but with the stunning locations and awesome people I soon realised this was going to be a good year. I hadn’t done much training so it was nice to see if could still be competitive and with paddlers with all abilities there was always someone to race against. Finishing mid table is great and I now have my winter training programme sorted ready for next year.
Anna: I have had such a fantastic year racing. I have loved meeting great people, loved training and quite enjoyed getting a few medals! Over all it’s been a great 1st year of racing. This is just the start for me, I hope to continue to race.
Stuart: My racing results have improved steadily. I have been training on the board at every opportunity.
Sarah: It’s still ongoing, but so far I’ve enjoyed travelling to lots of different locations, making new friends, and recently I was lucky enough to join the Welsh team as the distance racer at the ISA world SUP championships in Denmark in early September. I won’t forget four laps around Copenhagen Opera house screamed on by fellow Welsh SUP’ers for a long time.
Amy: Really well. Loved every minute and even got a few medals along the way.
What was the biggest lesson you learnt ?
Victoire: Throughout the season I learnt to just enjoy myself and not focus on the rankings. There is a part of me that can get quite competitive but with stand-up paddle boarding (as opposed to other sports I used to take part in) I wanted to make sure I was first and foremost having a good time, regardless of whether I came near the top or last. I am glad to have managed that, and it’s been awesome to be involved in races alongside some amazing male and female athletes and learn from them along the way.
Simon: I didn’t think SUP racing was ever going to be for me and I didn’t think I’d ever really embrace it but N1SCO has really opened my eyes. Although competitive, it has been so much fun and everyone is so nice. There can’t be many sports where fellow competitors give you genuinely helpful advice leading up to a race, during and following it. So my lesson is I should have done it sooner.
Mark: Drafting, just chase the person in front and draft if you can, don’t worry about how many kilometres you have left (because that plays on your mind) – just chase the draft!
Elaine: Taking part really does count and I’ll never be scared to embrace new challenges after this. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose but it does matter to get off that sofa and throw yourself in to living life.
Max: My biggest lesson aside all the techniques and tactics was to always have fun. Despite the weather conditions, type of event or location, always remember to enjoy it and have fun.
Ben: You don’t have to be an elite paddle to race!!! N1SCO racing makes SUP racing accessible to any paddler, ability etc… Everyone is so supportive and friendly making the events good fun and wanting more.
Anna: A good training programme gets good results.
Stuart: The more you train (and race) the better you’ll become. There is nothing like the racing to check your progress over a season. I’m still learning how to deal with so many paddlers so close at the start and the wake from their boards.
Sarah: Get a good start and know the course. At the ISA worlds in the technical racing the lead group of 10 girls went to the wrong buoy, which could have cost them their medals. Luckily for them a 2nd buoy had drifted meaning a restart was called.
Amy: That it’s good to watch other racers paddle techniques and to experiment with my own to see what works best for me.
What was the most useful skill you learnt ?
Victoire: I learnt lots about adapting to different weather conditions, which was really interesting! Back home I paddle on a canal so usually the water is calm and I am fairly sheltered from strong winds. But when you race in open water that can be a very different ball game – it was great to get tips about how to change your position on the board if it’s windy and how to paddle at a different angle to compensate for strong currents.
Simon: Drafting. I’ve done it in cycling and have seen it used to great effect in motor racing but until this year I hadn’t thought how using it in SUP and how working as a team doing it can really help you out in the longer paddles. It makes such a difference.
Mark: Drafting is great and kind of feels a bit like you are cheating but you’re not!
Elaine: Technical board skills – which has enabled me to enjoy rough water SUP handling in the most amazing places.
Max: Drafting and step back turns. Step back turns especially as they are useful, fun and look cool (except when you fall off)!
Ben: Paddling with other N1SCO paddlers [at the same time].
Anna: Improving my paddle technique. Having a few great lessons and learning from good feedback.
Stuart: After having the lesson with Casper at Swanage, the tips he gave to improve my stroke and trying different positions on the board (depending on the situation) was very helpful. When I fall back to bad habits, I try to remember what Casper was telling me.
Sarah: I’m not sure I’m there yet, but getting a nifty buoy turn sorted would be up there.
Amy: How to adapt my paddling style and position on the board according to the weather and conditions for each race. Also to stay hydrated!
Your favourite event of the year and why ?
Victoire: Very tough question! I enjoyed every event and have been amazed by the amount of work put in by the different organisers, a lot of whom are volunteers and do everything for us to be safe and have a great time. If I had to pick highlights I would say the N1SCO ‘Not So Inland’ Championship in Swanage, which was so much fun and was brilliantly organised and also the UK SUP race in Lake Bala for the amazingly beautiful site (and the fact I won female rookie of the race!).
Simon: This is a tough one but I would probably say the ‘Not So Inland’ championships at Swanage. Firstly until this year I’d never been to Swanage and have discovered a truly lovely part of the world, the locals were really nice and embraced the racing and the N1SCO vibe. Secondly the fact that it was an amazingly well organised event, even though it was supposed to be elsewhere and was moved at the last minute. It was all very light hearted and really quite entertaining but it also showed how open Alex [at Naish] has been to feedback and made the events the best possible for everyone. Lastly ‘Casper Steinfath’. How Alex arranged it is beyond me but to have Casper turn up, chat, paddle out with us and offer paddle clinics (which I jumped at) was amazing. The guy is a legend, a SUP World champion and such a truly nice and approachable person. The world needs more role models like Casper and to me sums up my experience of N1SCO this year, it’s a fantastic community of likeminded individuals.
Mark: Our second trip to Swanage was my favourite event. I was a few races into the season so had a bit of an idea of what was going on and really enjoyed the mass start – 80 of us racing around the 5 kilometre circuit. It was great fun and the weather was perfect with crystal clear water!
Elaine: Swanage N1SCO European Championships, the atmosphere and spirit of the event was world class. It was the biggest challenge as a newbie to complete the 10k in windy seas but it was the best feeling to come into the beach with new friends surrounded by paddlers who came back out on the water to cheer us in and then be greeted on shore, to all the cheering volunteers, racers and supporters. They made us feel like heroes, it’s such a wonderful community.
Max: UK SUP 10k endurance Cardiff. The reason I enjoyed this one most is because it ticked all the boxes – the weather was great, the location and course were awesome, I was feeling my fittest and I just felt a huge sense of accomplishment after finishing.
Ben: By far the Euros [in Swanage] – fantastic two day event. Loads of people from all over the world paddling together. Really sociable and friendly.
Anna: I loved Swanage. It was windy and a long way south but beautiful. I loved the 3 disciplines and enjoyed the challenge of the wind. It was nice being over 2 days as it seemed more relaxed. It was full of competitors and made the racing challenging. I loved all the events for different reasons though and am looking forward to more this year.
Stuart: My favourite event would be at Swanage due to the location, different sea and wind conditions and for the closeness of the racing.
Sarah: Competing at the ISA worlds in Copenhagen and traveling on to ‘Cold Hawaii’ (aka Klitmoller) to support the rest of the Welsh team was a fantastic experience. However, doing the Trent 100 as part of a Naish team was a great adventure.
Amy: The N1SCO European Championship in Swanage was an incredible weekend. It was great to paddle with so many people, the weather was gorgeous and the location was perfect. I also loved the Trent100. Such a good event and I will never forget the feeling of crossing the finishing line after paddling 100k!
If you could pass on any advice to a new paddler, what would you tell them ?
Victoire: Come and join the racing events, it’s not as scary as it sounds! People are friendly, and yes, while there are some amazing paddlers competing for the podium, there are also lots of people from different age groups and coming from all over the country who are just there to have a good time on the water. It’s also a nice way to pick up good tips about paddling technique or find out about nice places to go paddling on holiday. I’d add that you don’t need any prior training for any races up to 5-7k distance – I didn’t do any specific training this year and it was entirely manageable (I even managed a 10k in Cardiff….but would say that distance was a bit tough without training).
Simon: Just give it a go, N1SCO has the friendliest bunch of competitors I’ve encountered in any of the sports I’ve competed in. If you have questions just ask your fellow competitors. I’ve made some great friends this year and hope to continue catching up and racing with them again in the future.
Mark: Just give it a go it really is great fun. You really don’t need any race experience as long as you are happy standing on a board for between 30 mins-1hr, then you’ll be fine.
Elaine: Don’t be nervous or scared to have a go. Join the N1SCO community – you won’t regret it.
Max: Don’t hesitate – just go for it (after all, we all need to start somewhere). You will have a great experience, loads of fun, meet awesome people and gain loads of skills/experience at the same time.
Ben: Despite your ability, nerves or not knowing anyone…… get yourself to a N1SCO event!! They are really welcoming, supportive, your ability will grow without you knowing, people are friendly and at hand to answer any questions.
Anna: Research or get a lesson in good paddle technique that is efficient and won’t get you injured. It’s harder to correct bad habits than start with good habits.
Stuart: If I have learnt anything this season it is to get out there and enjoy the events. I’m looking forward to the future and the racing next year.
Sarah: Don’t wait for the sunny days! Get out in all types of conditions – except offshore winds, of course! If you get into racing the chances are you’ll have a windy, bumpy race one day and you’ll be ready for it.
Amy: Get out paddling as much as you can. Time and experience on the water helps so much in a race. But mostly just enjoy it!
Words : Bryce Dyer
So, if you haven’t yet taken part in a SUP race but fancy giving it a go next year, keep your eye out for the Naish N1SCO race events around the country. They’re the perfect place to get involved in some fun racing and you don’t even need to have your own board.
SUP triathlons… what’s involved, what do you need and how do you train for one? Experienced triathlete and passionate paddleboarder Bryce Dyer is not afraid of the wet and muddy stuff! And Bryce explains how despite having completed at a high sporting level himself, the new breed of triathlons, such as supbikerun are great fun for all ages and abilities, and accessible for anyone wanting to give them a go. So if you’re interested in doing something different with your SUP this summer read on…
A survivors beginners guide to SUP triathlons!
What is a triathlon? Well, in simple terms it’s generally always been seen as an endurance event that comprises three separate phases of swimming, biking and running that you undertake consecutively. It challenges a range of skills and abilities and depending on which bar story you believe, originated in France well over a century ago. Roll the clocks forward a bit and around 3-4 years ago, some bright spark decided it might be better if we all stayed a little drier for a change so switched out the swim for a SUP leg instead. As a result, the SUP triathlon was born and this new style of challenge is another variation for us to choose from in the rich tapestry of SUP paddling and racing.
Photo by – Sarahsavgephotography
Photo by – Sarahsavgephotography
Photo by – Sarahsavgephotography
My own voyage into triathlon started way back in 2002. In fact, it was helped along by someone very familiar from the UK SUP community as it was multiple national SUP champion (and then elite triathlete) Ryan James who took me out for my first hard bike ride. He rode, I blew and the rest of the story ends in a sugar crashed haze in a local Sainsbury’s. (Note: 12 years later, he did the same to me again when I bought my first SUP race board – I really should stop asking him).
When you read about its early accounts, triathlon was generally undertaken by those who just wanted to test their limits. Egos were rare, lycra even rarer and sports nutrition generally only went as far as a jam donut, some Jelly Babies and a wing and prayer. In many ways though, events like SUPbikerun are closer to triathlons original concept (and in particular, the Park Run or cycle sportif concept) than they are with contemporary swim bike run triathlons. It’s not a race, it’s a challenge. Instead, in the 4 SUP triathlons I’ve done, I’ve seen all shapes and sizes, all ages and backgrounds and a start time of your own choosing which has allowed me those ‘special’ moments to relieve yourself in the toilets with those pre-event nerves over and over again until you are ready to finally start and get on it.
So if you’re up for the challenge, what do you need? The reality is a board and paddle (although these can often be hired), a bike, and a pair of running shoes. That’s it. The type of board doesn’t matter. Sure, you’ll see clowns like me on some kind of high octane race board but we’re few in number. The majority have grabbed long or short, inflatable or rigid and made their way down to the water’s edge. As for the cycle leg (which comes second), a mountain bike is a good place to start – particularly if it’s an offroad event. The bikes are comfortable, durable and generally reliable. Suspension forks aren’t mandatory but it can smooth the ride and make your day a little more comfortable. You’ll need a helmet too. As for the run, a (broken in!) pair of running shoes that you’re willing to get muddy are fine.
The distances of such events vary from those that might take an hour or so upto something of four hours plus. That length isn’t to be underestimated (particularly as you’re going to burn through a lot more calories doing this than if you’d just gone for a long paddle). It’s good to stretch your limits but its sensible to go for a distance that you think you can achieve without the need for supplemental oxygen and a priest reading you your last rites for your first one.
With this in mind, how do you train for one? That’s a more complex question and would be based upon your background, your goals and your current level of fitness. We’ll save that one for another day. However, if you’re cautious, it is possible just to rock up and do one without doing too much specific training at all. In fact, for all 4 of my experiences I did no more running than a couple of short 20 minute runs the week before to make sure I wouldn’t suffer too much post-race soreness of my body betting on red (and likely coming up black) when dealing with the impact of gravity. For cycling, putting a few rides in of at least the race distance is as useful for checking the bikes reliability as it is for your confidence.
As things stand though, I’ve listed a few tips for you to think about that might help you through your first experience:
If it’s your first one, train to complete, not compete. These events are relaxed affairs and if you haven’t done any kind of triathlon or multisport event before, go into it with the target of wishing to get to the finish line. Push things too hard or put too much pressure on yourself to achieve an arbitrary time and you’ll possibly end up unnecessarily disappointed or unable to finish at all. Start conservatively – I don’t recall hearing anyone ever say they underpaced a triathlon. It’s an aerobic effort and you’d be working at an intensity that you could likely hold a strained conversation if needed. As far as everyone is concerned, it’s an adventure, not a race.
Joe Athlete is rare. Job Normal is the norm. When you arrive at your event you may well see the odd soul looking a tad serious or someone with equipment that makes yours look like something out of the dark ages. Don’t worry about it. That’s just as likely to be indicative of their wallet, not their actual ability. I like using good gear but in my first bike time trial a few years back, I was caught, dropped and then thrashed by someone riding a bike with panniers. I can guarantee that most people there are as nervous as you and are more Alistair Vauxhall driver then Alistair Brownlea. Don’t let your imagination work overtime.
Triathlon is one sport, not three. Try and look at the event as one continuous act of you in motion. The clock doesn’t stop when you do. As a result, it’s sometimes worth backing off in your stronger legs to save energy for your weaker ones. In addition, if you need to slow down, that’s fine – but keep moving forward. Walking is slower than running but it’s still covering the distance. There’s no shame in it and everyone making it to the end is equal.
Energy is like a bucket with a hole in it. This is an analogy I use a lot. No matter how much you eat or drink, your body can’t process it and store it at the rate you’ll likely be burning through it. By eating and drinking, you’re keeping that bucket fuller but in the end, it’s still going to run out. The key is delaying that point until you’re at the motorway services on the way home worrying about whether to have cheese with that Whopper than being halfway through the bike leg. As a result, use sports drinks, energy gels and soft bars throughout your race (and try these beforehand). Little and often. Use the transitions to neck a gel quickly and make sure that you have access to fluids on the bike (as this is the easiest place to get it on board).
Perform ‘brick’ workouts. In triathlon parlance, bricks are training sessions that bolt together two or more disciplines. In other words, going for a bike ride and then going for a run immediately after it. The key thing that novices don’t realise is that biking or running isn’t the same as biking and running. The blood has to move from some muscles to new ones and go from rolling along to then dealing with your body mass. For myself last year (at 6ft 3 and then pushing 15 stone), that’s no joke. I looked like an extra from the Walking Dead for 10 minutes at least. However, you can train to minimise this sensation. Doing a 20 minute bike ride and then running for 5-10 minutes off of it is a nice little session to drop in a few times before you do your first one to get used to the sensation of your legs not being physically available for a little while. Running off the bike is like leaving a pub after midnight on New Year’s but your legs will return….. eventually.
Transitions are free speed. As I mentioned earlier, the clock doesn’t stop so when you move from one discipline to another, this is known as ‘transition’. There are two of these in a triathlon T1 (board to bike) and T2 (bike to run). You might find you want to put a pair of socks on or get some fluid down you but try not to spend any more time here than you need to. If you do a quick search online you’ll see the faster people nearly always have the faster transitions. They get in, get sorted and then get going. Get what you need but don’t make a package holiday out of it.
Accept certain simple truths that somewhere along the line, your wheels may well come off…… but that’s ok (as so will everyone else’s). This is one of the biggest and most useful psychological techniques I’ve ever learnt in sport. There is a pretty good chance the race is going to prove mentally or physically challenging at some point. This is fine – if it wasn’t a challenge, what’s the point ? Take comfort in the fact everyone is going to go through this whether they are at the front or at the back of the field. Beyond the smiles, scowls or bravado, things will get challenging sooner or later. The greater the challenge, the greater the satisfaction (sounds like a T’ Shirt slogan). Trust me, you’ll be glad you did it at the end.
Dr Bryce Dyer competed in his age group for the GB team for years, won best rookie at the Quadrathlon World Championships and once had the ridiculous idea of doing an Ironman in shark infested waters in a silver wetsuit (thereby being blissfully ignorant that he was resembling a 6ft fishing lure). He now races SUP’s for Naish UK.
For more information about supbikerun events check out their website.
The next supbikerun event will be taking part at Clumber Park on 2nd-3rd Sept 2017. Don’t miss out.
Passionate SUP racer Dr Bryce Dyer is back, but this time sharing his top tips on how to gain more speed and up your overall performance throughout the long race season…
There comes a time as a season wears on that your gains in speed become increasingly limited, or you start to get some mental fatigue as a result of ‘train, race, repeat’. The reality is that it’s hard sometimes to keep on it, day after day, week after week and month after month. Even elite athletes in many sports may only intend to peak two or three times a year and their season length will be dictated by this. UK-based SUP racers on the other hand can have a long season. For example, many of the big events started early April and the UK SUP national series can often head into October. That’s 8 months and is long by any sports standards. It’s going to be tough to keep at your best for that long and the science says you shouldn’t if you want to be at your best when it matters. This all said, going fast on a SUP board isn’t just a case of paddling fast – it’s a symbiotic relationship between man and technology and is basically one big system. What does this mean to you ?
It means that you don’t need to focus just on paddling hard to get faster but an understanding that to get faster, you need to maximise the things moving you forwards and/or reduce the things slowing you down.
In my own research, I suggest an athlete’s success is based upon the management of ‘assistive and resistive factors’. So with all of this mind, here are 10 low cost, lo-fi options for you to pick up a little bit of speed for not a lot of effort…
Downsize the fin
Hydrodynamic drag being what it is, the less surface area or things you have moving around in the water, the faster you’ll go. I’m actually a fan of scaling the fin to the size and force output of the paddler but nonetheless, trying a fin that is a little smaller than what you currently have might make your board a little tippier but it might add some speed too. Read more about race fins with Bryce’s feature here : sup-technical-bryce-dyer-looks-sup-race-fins
Lose some lumber
This is a touchy subject for many of us (and one I personally avoided until I entered my 40’s). I’d spent 20 years relying on exercise as the sole basis to keeping my weight stable but as I age, our metabolism slows down and you become a true reflection of your lifestyle choices (read ‘sins’ !). The reality is that SUP paddling performance is influenced by a paddler’s power to weight. To move faster you can increase your power but this will be increasingly difficult to do the longer you are involved in a sport. Secondly, you can reduce your mass. This means you cut down the amount of energy you expend as you have to accelerate yourself every time you apply a stroke in the water. Taking a look at your diet in terms of its quality and quantity could shave more kilos than buying a new lighter board.
Get a computer or GPS with stroke data
There is an argument that suggests SUP racing is instinctive and that you don’t need technology governing your decision making, However, knowing aspects such as heart rate, current speed and stroke length can tell you a lot of what is going on with you or with the conditions. Consider races like this year’s Head of the Dart – At the race briefing we were instructed to always try and hold the centre of the river as this was both fastest and safest. This advice was born out when in the latter stages, a fast group that was behind me (comprising Team Starboard’s Ben Pye and Crispin Jones) took the shortest distance through one of the bends towards the end of the race. However, when I decided to start to move in to cover them, I noticed quickly on my GPS that my board speed was dropping fast and my stroke length drastically reduced – Put simply, I was moving out of the main river flow. Yes, I would have saved a few yards but the loss in speed wasn’t worth it. I opted to stay out where I was and increased my gap to them. Without that information, I wouldn’t have known.
Go with the unfamiliar
Sometimes racers can get locked in to a pecking order finishing order mentality. They finish in front and behind of the same people time after time as that’s what their brain tells them to expect and accept. Changing the race distance or style of racing or racing outside your normal region can allow you to make breakthroughs you wouldn’t get by doing the norm.
Sand the fin
Boards run aground or can strike objects in the water and this can take the odd nick or chunk out of a fin. Those imperfections will disrupt the water flow and as a result, will create drag and slow you down. Get some sand paper or emery cloth and a flat sanding block and spend a minute or two getting them out.
Clean the board
You may not have noticed but when you paddle on rivers, lakes and the sea, the board does pick up grime. This grime, (even if you can’t see it) can affect the skin drag of the board and again can slow you down. Hydrophobic coatings are used on some watercraft but you can get somewhere close to this by using washing up liquid or degreaser. There is also some social responsibility attached to this as cleaning your gear prevents bacteria and contamination being spread from place to place.
Eat for performance
To be honest, this is something I’ve been aware of for years but literally only implemented in the last couple of months. This is different to the weight management issue I mentioned in tip 2. Eating for performance involves eating the right stuff pre training/racing and doing the same after it. If you’re worried about your weight, this may seem counterintuitive but with a fired up metabolism and some sensible eating, I’ve personally found this lets me train harder, for longer and to recover faster. Keep that up for week after week and you this can allow you to do more and therefore get faster.
Develop functional strength
The jury is still out on this one for me but I do performance some strength work at the important times of my racing year. For example I train with ginormous paddles sometimes. The reason is to develop sports specific strength that I have found helps apply extra force when needed or to be flexible to adopting a wider range of stroke rates. Go easy with paddles though – they can be joint wreckers. However, there are alternatives such as towing tennis balls off the tail of the board. This will increase the boards drag substantially but means that you need to apply more force to the catch of your stroke to keep your momentum up.
Try different clothing
I’ve been known to wear the odd bit of lycra in a race since the second I started racing in the sport. I probably (and quite reasonably) looked ridiculous. The reason for this though is that aerodynamic drag can be a factor – even at the low speeds we experience (and particularly when you’re as tall as I am). Hit a headwind section and your body could be subjected to a breeze of around 20-30mph and that’s the same as a racing cyclist will see. Board shorts and t shirts are only a fashion statement. Plus, if you get wet, they’ll hold more water and for longer and that could add a kilo or two back on the board. I’m not saying run out and don the spandex but a bit of thought on what you wear can make a difference.
Practise aggressive starts and drafting
Learning to hop on the draft of a faster paddler can send you rocketing up the field in terms of position. Even if you tire and have to drop back sooner or later, you could gain yards that your competition may have to spend a vast proportion of their own race chasing back down.
Words – Dr Bryce Dyer.
So, before you go and splash out on a new faster looking race board, go back to basics and consider all of the above. These low cost, low-fi options may be just the solution to increase your speed, overall performance and position during this years race season.
After a successful seasons NISCO racing last year, Naish team rider Bryce Dyer shares his thoughts and what he has learnt about racing iSUPs and racing in general. With his science background it’s no surprise that Bryce still has his science cap on when racing! Well worth a read if you’re new to the racing scene or thinking about giving Naish NISCO racing a go this year…
Don’t leave yourself too far down a draft train in a N1SCO race when it nears its conclusion. It’s easier to overtake one board on a big push later on than to try and get past two. And (unlike cycling or motorsport) you’ll get no extra hydrodynamic draft by being further down the line. Due to their board design, Naish One’s require huge surges in power to get past another board and even if you do, the pass is often slow. I crunched a few numbers earlier this year that showed it could take 30-40 seconds to make a definitive pass at typical N1SCO race speeds…. and that’s a fair amount of time. Move yourself up well in advance.
The best drafting distance between two boards varies based on both board’s designs, the leading paddler’s technique and the average speed you’re both doing. However, if you can get close (and I mean 3-4 inches on a N1SCO at most), you’ll find these boards have a tendency to produce some degree of suction and a draft which will pull you along thereby reducing your energy expenditure dramatically behind the leading board. Fall back even as little as a metre and you’re pretty much getting no draft at all. It’s worth practising this in training with your friends.
Positioning is everything. It doesn’t make sense to cook your proverbial goose in the first 5 minutes of a race that is going to be an hour long. However, miss the packs and you’re going to have to do it all on your own and then be worse off anyway. A balanced and calculated approach is best. However, even if you feel you’re not a fast paddler, getting a good position early on can really boost the outcome of your race for nothing more than putting yourself in the right place at the right time. The N1SCO boards are inflatable and can handle a bit of bumping together so don’t be shy!
Think about your paddle. If you’re still using a heavy or cheap paddle, consider upgrading or trying something new. A heavy paddle takes more energy to move it, more to slow it down and ultimately wastes calories in your fuel tank that ultimately you’re going to need.
The strongest paddler doesn’t always win. If you’re the weaker paddler, it may well pay to gamble or bluff on tactics as the race wears on so don’t consign yourself to just following.
Know the course. Don’t assume that the fastest paddlers know where they are going. If I’d paid more attention at the Cardiff race briefing last year (and less on what I was going to order at the Chinese restaurant on the way home), I could have made a huge gain over the field rather than just the gain of kung po chicken!
Enjoy your racing. Whether you finished at the front or at the end, it’s equally hard for everyone so spend time swapping war stories. You’ll learn loads.
“Bloody good fun between a load of very competitive people who ended up becoming friends on and off the water. I do think the class is underestimated. It’s a very different animal to conventional hard board racing – N1SCO racing is tighter and far more tactical.” – Bryce Dyer
So whether you’re wanting to race for fun or to challenge your competitive streak it’s well worth thinking about the above to get the most from your racing experience. And with everyone on the same board at NISCO events, if you want to be the fastest across the line you’re going to have to think about more than just your board choice! Good luck this season.
To get involved with the Naish N1SCO one design racing this year check out N1SCO posts on SUPboarder or visit the N1SCO.co.uk website.
Naish UK team paddler Dr Bryce Dyer is back, with the 2nd part of his SUP training series providing some excellent training guidance to get you ready for that first race of the season. It’s not long until the race season kicks off, so if you’re interested in completing an 8 week training programme, don’t just think about it, do it!…
In the Part 1, we went through the principles of training and training philosophy and looked at the N1SCO sprint event. This time, I’ll go through the two other N1SCO events and then show you a training plan to help support them.
The other two events of a N1SCO event are a middle distance technical race and a long distance endurance event. These both require the ability to keep yourself going at the highest sustainable speed that you can manage. The middle distance technical race also has quite a few buoy turns too. However the large fleet will also mean that drafting, overtaking and a sprint finish may well all be on the cards. They are both aerobic events so provided you practise your buoy turns from time to time, new paddlers can pretty much train the same way for both of them.
To measure how hard you are working, you need to have a gauge to measure your efforts. Whereas I would typically prescribe my own exercise intensity in cycling or running based on my power output, SUP’s don’t have the ability to measure this yet. Instead, we need to resort to heart rate, stroke rate or pace. In this case you’re going to rely on either heart rate (if you have a heart rate monitor) or use what is known as Borg’s ‘rate of perceived exertion’ (RPE). Borgs RPE is a 1-10 scale (with 1 being little more than inhaling to 10 being ‘maximum effort – you’re about to implode – save me now’). Here’s a reproduction of the scale for you below. However, if you’re going to use a heart rate monitor instead, you’ll need to determine your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) with a short test before you start this programme. Whatever you do, please don’t use the old ‘220 minus your age’ to find your maximum heart rate as this is outdated thinking and rarely right. To find your LTHR, I recommend using a test proposed by well-known endurance coach Joe Friel who advocates a 30-minute time trial on your own. This test should be as hard as you can sustainably go for its full duration. However, 10 minutes into the test, click the ‘lap’ button on your heart rate monitor. When you’re done, look to see what your average heart rate was for the last 20 minutes. That number is a rough approximation of your LTHR.
So then, onto the plan itself. This is an 8 week plan that you can start a couple of months out from your chosen N1SCO event. Just to clarify how to read it – if the schedule says ‘15min warm up, 30 mins @ 90-94% LTHR (RPE 3-4)’, this means that you do a 15 minute gentle warm up paddling, then do 30 minutes in the at 90-94% of your lactate threshold heart rate. If you do not use a heart rate monitor, this is equivalent to a Borg scale 3-4 effort. Make sense ?
Click on the below image to enlarge…
…..and here are the key points to bear in mind:
The plan assumes you’ll be able to paddle three times a week and will ask you to have a full day off between each one.
The sessions are generally shorter than an hour to complete (but don’t skimp on the warm up and an easy paddle to cool down!).
If illness or life gets in the way, take the time out and just pick the plan up from where you left it once you are well.
Due to the limitations of your time, it has an emphasis on moderate to high levels of intensity.
The order of these sessions is important. The higher intensity session is first in your week and should have had a day or two off before it. Don’t mix this order up as you won’t get the best out of it.
The first 4 weeks have an emphasis on increasing your raw abilities you’ll need but the emphasis shifts in the last 4 weeks towards a greater level of event specificity. However, there is always progression!
I’ve put some suggested training days in for you but the key is to make sure that whatever you’re first day training actually is, give yourself a clear rest day before each next day’s paddling.
And there you have it, that’s the 8 week plan! Bear in mind that it’s not essential to train for a N1SCO event – it’s an inclusive and fun day out for anyone. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a bit extra in the tank. A day out at a N1SCO event should be (and is !) a fun experience for everyone there – irrespective if it’s your first ever race or if you’re a seasoned competitor. I hope to see you all there later in the year.
Words – Dr Bryce Dyer
So, even if you’re planning to take part in an event this year just for fun there’s no harm in doing a bit of training and getting your body paddle fit. You’ll probably enjoy it more and definitely ache less the next day!
Have you been thinking about taking part in your first SUP event this year or are you hoping to improve your results by doing a bit of training, but no idea where to begin? Fear not! Regular SUPboarder contributor and Naish UK team paddler Dr Bryce Dyer is back, with a two part series providing some excellent guidance to get you ready for that first race of the season. Over to Bryce…
SUP is unique when compared to a lot of other endurance sports. It’s a lot newer for a start but the paddlers themselves have often come into it from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are surfers, triathletes or fitness fanatics. Some however, don’t have any athletic background at all and purely got into it as something they saw, fancied a go and then later felt like trying a race. The problem is that SUP’s relative infancy often sees many training or paddling without a plan and there is a lack of specific information out there for those who would like to improve their results. Understanding what is needed can be confusing to some and more often than not, people are swayed by what their heroes and the race winners are doing (which isn’t always a great idea). As a result, I thought I’d give you a bit of a primer into stripping down the basic concepts and provide a bit of insight into how you can train for any particular SUP event – in this case, one of the Naish One Design (N1SCO) events.
As always from me, here are the disclosures – firstly, always check with your doctor or physician before starting a training programme. Secondly, this plan is aimed at SUP first timers and novices in particular. These are people who can currently handle upto an hour’s worth of physical exercise. Finally, I’m intentionally trying to keep this simple so that the sessions I’m prescribing are straightforward enough so that anyone with little more than a stopwatch (and a good gauge of how they feel) can undertake them. A lot of what I do myself would overcomplicate the needs of novices and whilst I personally like to have the deck of my boards and the handlebars of my bikes looking like the space shuttle, it’s a fair argument to say that many find any application of science distracting or off-putting. This is a stripped down, intentionally low-fi approach. Now we’ve covered all this, read on.
All right then, the cornerstones to any successful training plan for any kind of sporting event relies on four basic principles. These are:
In layman’s terms, specificity means that your training should be specific to the needs of the sport, its skills, physiology and distance. In other words, you don’t train for a 10 second sprint by doing a 3 hour paddle any more than I would train for a marathon by doing circuit classes. As for overload this means that the training session should provide some form of physical stress. This doesn’t mean you should be on your knees after every session but you should feel like you did something by the time you get back in your car. Recovery though is the key bit. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t get fitter or faster by training. Instead, you actually get better in what happens after it. Put simply, you push your body’s engine or muscles and they come back stronger or become more efficient. If you ditch the recovery, all you’re going to do is to get is tired, broken down or injured. I often see’s athletes enter a downward spiral whereby they don’t improve so they feel the best resolution is to train even harder until eventually (depressed and despondent), they give up or (for the more stubborn), consistently underperform. The reality is often that they either needed to do a little less or just frankly needed a little more rest. The irony of all of this is that the fitter you get, the more you can handle. I personally have a training load now that I would not have been able to handle 4 or 5 years ago but it’s taken me years to build upto it. However, I know that I can personally sometimes be a slave to the numbers but the reality is you need to listen to your body. The final point is that any training plan requires progression. Your body will get used to what you’re throwing at it so if you don’t keep applying some form of change to your plan, you’re going to get used to it and the improvements will stop. How do we do this ? The reality is that to progress your sessions an athlete should:
Increase the power
Reduce the recovery
Increase the duration
Increasing the power is great but in my experience this is a short term strategy. In SUP, Power is the result of the force at the blade and the stroke rate you are paddling at. One affects the other and if you go too wild, your efficiency can degrade (meaning you’re working hard but not getting the power out as well as you could). In addition, mentally you can’t push past your limits week after week, time after time [it’s why I’m not a huge fan of the fashionable ‘get fit in 7 minutes’ or going to a metafit class – their gains rely entirely on being able to work hard, week after week and it’s not mentally or physically sustainable]. It’s a big ask. If paddlers do the same thing, week in, week out, it’s never going to see them progress past a certain point.
Reducing the recovery though is a useful technique if you’re trying to build up to sustaining a larger block of work at a given speed by doing shorter intervals. It’s particularly good if you’re looking to complete a longer distance event for the first time but it’s not great for increasing your training load. Load is the raw amount of training you’re doing (and is a combination of the impact of the time you accumulate training and the intensity you’re doing it at). Increasing your load progressively (but carefully) is what makes you fitter and faster.
Finally, you can look to increasing your exercise duration. This is great for continuing to increase your training load and improving your aerobic fitness. The problem is that many people have to juggle families, work and other responsibilities so it’s not without a realistic ceiling. For example, I know Olympic track cycling pursuiters who will build up to 4 hour training sessions – despite competing in an event that only lasts 3-4 minutes. The truth is that they are trying to get their aerobic engine as good as they can get it (and have the time to do it). However, I also know of plenty of amateurs who can get 95% of the way there but don’t train any longer than an hour. At the end of the day, its diminishing returns past a certain point and it comes down to your motivation to find that last few percent. On that subject, be aware that pros are pro’s for a reason. The main reason that they are better than we are is often that they have good genetics and work extremely hard….. but also that they can take (and recover from) the training load. Too many athletes try to copy them and end up overtrained or injured. You should train in a way that allows you personally to progress, recover and improve (rinse and repeat !). Doing what a Ryan James or a Jo Hamilton-Vale does – merely because they consistently win races in the UK, is physiological suicide for your average paddler. Those guys spent many years getting to where they are and it’s by no means an accident (as famed exercise physiologist Dr Andrew Coggan once told me, ‘there are no miracles in racing’). Irrespective of who it is, if a paddlers training plan isn’t incorporating these fundamental aspects, they’re not training – they’re just paddling and their improvements will stagnate within a month or two. Doing the same programme, week in, week out won’t help you.
So then, knowing all of this, how can we apply these principles to a sporting event ? Well, for the sake of this article, I’ve chosen a N1SCO SUP racing event and created a short 8 week plan to get a novice paddler physically ready for it. In 2017, there will be three N1SCO events in the UK. These use the Naish One as a one-design format of racing. Everyone has the same board design so the result won’t be influenced by the chequebook. What also makes the event unique to anything else is that each event involves the paddler getting their final placing based upon their accumulated score from 3 separate races held during the day – a short sprint over about 80 metres, a technical race lasting about 15 minutes and a long distance race over 2-3 miles. Each event requires slightly different skills and physiology.
For the final bit of part one, let’s take a quick look at the sprint event first. Once any event gets longer than 35-40 seconds in length, your physiology is being powered entirely by your aerobic system – so that’s where most of your workouts need to be focused on in your training. However, in the sprint, it’s made up of a short effort that relies more on your ability to get upto speed fast through an application of raw power (through the combination of high levels of applied muscle force and stroke rate) and then manage the lactic acid build up as best it can until you complete the event. Take a look of a graph of the speed of a paddler in a typical N1SCO sprint below.
The speed is shown with the blue line. If you look, the paddler gets upto speed as quickly as possible, slows down (as they have to do a single buoy turn) and then accelerates again to get back to the finish line. That’s an event that lasted roughly 50 seconds and had two maximum effort sprints in it (just so as you know, the red line was the heart rate). Heart rate is all but useless in short events as it lags behind any increase in your power output or speed. By the way, this graph also shows how you how you can improve your performance. If you look carefully at the graph, the incline of the line to get upto speed is your acceleration. As a result, improve your power and speed at the start and the time to complete the event will be reduced. Likewise, if you improve your 180 degree buoy turn, you’ll shave huge chunks off your time. You might also have to sprint in a series of qualification heats so you’ll have to recover and then go again. This is a very different prospect to the two other events and requires very different training for it.
In the second part of this article, I’ll go through the other two events and then show you a full training plan to show you how to prepare better for the whole challenge.
Words – Dr Bryce Dyer
So look out for Bryce’s next article in afew weeks time to find out how you can get ready for the 2017 race season. The Naish One Design Series (NISCO) is a great place to start if you’re new to the race scene or after some fun, action packed racing.