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Length of the Lake

Thank you Tyrion Miskell for this submission of this lovely article by Wayne Still titled Length of the Lake.  Who wouldn’t want to join in after reading this?!

length of the lakeThere is just enough predawn twilight to see the shapes of OC-6s on the grass of Kin Beach Park in Vernon at the north end of Okanagan Lake. The park sprinklers have been busy overnight trying to fill the boats with water so our first job is to bail them. As the sky brightens in the east we dolly the boats down the beach and into the lake. The skipper of an escort boat lying at anchor off shore gives us the thumbs up. Last minute organization of clothing and nutrition is made as the crews ready themselves and their boats for their 100 km race to the south end of the lake at Penticton. How hard could it be?

That’s the question members of the Penticton Racing Canoe Club asked themselves in 2000 when they first conceived the idea of an ultra endurance paddling race using Okanagan Lake as the course.

Okanagan Lake is one of the geological beauties of British Columbia. It is the northern tip of the rain shadow desert which starts as the great Sonoran Desert in Mexico passing through the US and into Canada. When drifting tectonic plates created the mountainous western region of North America the result was ridges and faults. Over the aeons of geological time glaciations rounded the ridges and scoured the faults leaving the spectacular mountain and valley landscape we see today. Swiftly flowing meltwater from the ice sheets which covered the area further sculpted the landscape creating alluvial fans and benches along the steep sided valley leaving us a long, deep lake. The geology has made Okanagan Lake spectacular for paddling:  fantastic vistas along the shores and the vast lake with big curves provides unpredictable changes in wind and current, a combination no paddler can resist. This is the backdrop for a long paddle down the lake.

The race was named Length of the Lake. Because of the distance to be covered it was divided into five legs of unequal distances. The distances were determined by convenient places to locate aid stations, marked by an orange tarp, where crews could make beach changes. But it works out that a crew that does one, three and five will paddle about the same distance as a crew paddling legs two and four.  Also because of the distance the race was originally conceived of as an OC-6 race with teams of twelve divided into two mixed crews of six. In the intervening years the field has been opened to OC-1s, OC-2s, single and tandem kayaks and surf skis. Crew composition has evolved to the point where any combination of paddlers which has the best chance of getting a clubs boat to the other end of the lake is a go. It has been ironed several times by paddlers in small boats but to date never in an OC-6.

As the paddlers make their way down the lake they pass by heavily forested wilderness hill sides. Blackened areas of recent forest fires are signs that this is indeed wild country.  Interspersed are the more orderly rows of lush green vineyards and orchards. As they move ever southwards lakeside resorts and developments become more common around the bustling city of Kelowna and its unique floating bridge. Leaving the aid station at Peachland the vista ahead of them is the verdant green of a new forest growing on the slopes of Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.Tarp marking the check_aid station 300x169 In 2003 the park was the scene of a devastating wild fire which burned more than 200 homes in south Kelowna as well as the famous railroad trestles around Myra Canyon. Below the mountain is Squally Point and Rattlesnake Island. Local lore has this as the lair of Ogopogo, the resident lake monster. It has never been known to attack a boat but if you are lucky you just might catch sight of a long undulating body swimming along side. Keep your camera handy, a verified photo of Ogopogo would be a ticket to fame and fortune. As the race comes into the home stretch the vistas are more desert like with prominent clay banks on the shore line. To the east are the many orchards and vineyards of Naramata Bench. And straight ahead is the goal; the peach shaped concession stand on Penticton’s Okanagan beach. The finish line is the iconic peach stand,   a paddler sprints up the beach to kiss the peach. Kissing the Peach at the finish line 300x169

Be well prepared to paddle this race. A lake this long in mountainous terrain can and does have very changeable weather conditions. On any given day a paddler can encounter strong winds, big water, rain, sunshine and chilling cold though not necessarily in that order. In 2009 a strong south wind with associated big water created conditions so challenging that several boats had to beach. One crew was rescued from a rocky beach by a safety boat. They found out how hard it could be!! Boats which made it as far as Squally Point that day got a tail wind for the rest of the race. An interesting phenomenon of the lake geography is that Squally Point is located at the apex of a large sweeping bend which has the potential to split a strong wind into opposite directions. Safety is a major consideration in organizing this event. We have four safety boats to escort the racers and ensure that any emergencies are dealt with in a timely manner.

As your boat nears an aid station the crew prepares to make the change to the next crew. This can resemble oBeach Change_Peachland 300x169rganized chaos as one crew jumps into the water to stabilize the boat while the new crew gets on board and paddles away. Water bottles and paddles which have been tossed into the water are retrieved and the crew changes into dry clothes. Times and positions are checked, then the next challenge of the race is undertaken. The logistics of moving racers and vehicles from one aid station to the next do take some organization and should not be underestimated.

Penticton Racing Canoe Club is a small club located in a small city. We greatly enjoy staging this race and love to welcome paddlers from the many clubs from across Western Canada and the US. Penticton is located on a huge alluvial fan which creates the south shore of Okanagan Lake and the north shore of Skaha Lake to the south. This makes it, along with Interlaken in Switzerland, one of only two cities in the world located between two lakes. The temperate climate is ideal for agricultural production. High quality apples, soft fruit, wine and table grapes along with a wide variety of vegetables are grown in large volumes. There are many fruit stands in the area while organized wine tasting tours offer the opportunity to experience up close the landscapes of the aforementioned Naramata Bench. Many restaurants in the city offer fine dining opportunities. But the finest dining after the race will be found at the awards ceremony where we wrap up the days adventures.

Come join us on September 4th, 2016 and take the challenge of Length of the Lake.

Will 2016 be the year your club sets the record for ironing the race in an OC-6? How hard could it be? Registration opens April 1st. www.pentictonoutrigger.com.

Dana-Double

Prolong the Life of Your Wood Paddle

In a perfect world nobody would be homeless, everyone would have enough to eat, and our canoe paddles would last forever. While the first two dilemmas may be solved in the distant future, I suspect that as long as people paddle outrigger canoes, they will find some object on which to hit their paddles.  The following write up will explain in detail how to prolong the life of your wood paddle. Dana-Double

If you think repairing your canoe paddle is beyond your capability, think again. About the only requirement for maintenance and repair of your paddle is the ability to read the instructions on a can of varnish.

The mortal enemy of all wood products is water. If you can keep water from penetrating into the fibers of the wood, you will be doing a lot to prolong the life of your paddle. Once water penetrates into the wood via a fracture in the finish, the process of a slow and painful death begins.

Dabbing an exterior grade varnish or polyurethane on the bare wood can cover small dings in your paddle. Be sure to let the water in the wood dry out before applying the finish. Larger abrasions may require sanding to obtain a smooth surface. A sequence of 80 grit sandpaper followed by 150 grit sandpaper will usually take care of most minor to medium nicks. If you have rubbed the edge of the blade raw and the wood is fuzzy you might have to start with 40 grit paper and reshape the edge. Don’t get overly worried about the outline shape of the blade; paddle design is extremely tolerant of “new” shapes. The important factor is symmetry of the shape (that both sides are equal). Frequent touch ups of your paddle will save you the stress of major repairs and significantly increase the life of your paddle.

Broken pieces and stress cracks are more problematic and may require power tools to do the job easily. If you should happen to nick a chunk out of your paddle, the first rule of repair is to find the missing piece. If you can find the broken piece it is a simple matter of gluing it back in place. I have found that epoxy glues work best for these types of repairs. Epoxy has excellent gap filling properties and does not require high clamping pressure. Simple clamps can be devised using masking tape, bands of rubber, or any other method you can think of to hold the piece in place until the glue dries. Small missing chunks up to about Y4 inch in size can be filled with epoxy if you can’t find the piece. Fitting in a piece of new wood, which is sanded to dimension and then refinished, can repair larger dings.

Stress cracks in the shaft of the paddle are a sign of eminent doom. You can prolong the life of the shaft in a number of ways, but failure will surely happen ten yards from the finish line when your crew is in first place. The easiest treatment for this type of problem is to wrap the shaft with carbon fiber or fiberglass cloth. Sand the damaged area until you get to bare wood.

Undersize the shaft as you will be adding material, which will increase the diameter of the shaft. Use epoxy resin to saturate the cloth, which is lower in viscosity than epoxy glue. Two or three layers are usually enough but I would relegate the paddle to practice status to be on the safe side. Carbon fiber is much stiffer than fiberglass, weights being equal, but is three to four times as expensive. Be sure to wear gloves, epoxy is nasty stuff.

As I mentioned before paddle repair is not rocket science. It takes time and easily acquired knowledge of a few basic products. The library is filled with books on basic woodworking, which can be applied to any paddle repair problem. Have confidence! And remember, even if the repair doesn’t look pretty, it will most likely work.

DAVE’S DO’S AND DON’TS:

• DO wash your paddle with fresh water after every use

• DO store your paddle in a cool, dry environment when possible

• DO refinish all bare wood as soon as possible

• DO fully submerge your blade on the catch before you pull. This is especially important on the starts.

• DO make sure your power phase is in sync with the rest of your crew so that the resistance of the canoe is distributed equally.

• If you do break your paddle, find the missing piece.

• DON’T stab your paddle into the sand.

• DON’T leave your paddle in your car on a hot day.

• DON’T drum the side of the canoe with your paddle.

• DON’T expect your paddle to last forever. Paddles are like running shoes. The more you nm the faster they run out.

• REMEMBER, one super hard stroke won’t win the race but it might snap your paddle.

by: Dave Chun

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OC Paddling Training & Conditioning

OC paddling training and conditioning can take on many forms.  We turned to the experts to get a glimpse into what personally drives them and what it entails to put together a structured training schedule.  Each paddler has a unique training schedule consisting of both paddling and alternate conditioning methods to achieve their desired level of fitness.

Paddling is the main component of training for OC1 and OC6 paddling.  The workouts themselves often consist of varied times, distances and speeds.  Finding the perfect balance between open ocean, wave experience and straight conditioning is an art.  Often times, a weight training program and other types endurance training are added to the mix.

No matter what, paddling fitness requires paddling, and lots of it!

We asked two of our ‘Elele to contribute a short write up on their current OC paddling training and conditioning.  One is located in Pacific North West of US and the other on the Island of Oahu.


Al Van Guisen

Paddling – conditioning: (to follow) Training – This time of year is one man racing season.  With team paddling taking up most of summer and fall, winter and spring provides a great relief from team workouts and allows freedom to do what you want or need.  It’s easy to get caught up in a strict training plan which is why I love the flexibility of the OC-1 season.  

When it’s windy Image-1and you need a break from the regiment, surfing bumps is always a priority.  You can never get enough of downwind surf runs especially if there’s been long droughts of windless-ness.  Surfing an OC-1 on an open ocean swell provides a stoke all it’s own, but it also teaches a lot.  It’s good to consistently remind yourself to look at the water ahead while you’re riding a bump so that you can project yourself into the next section.  Not only am I looking at the water ahead of me, but I’m also analyzing my effort in the surf.  I try to use the least amount of effort possible to catch the bumps.  It’s something I practice all the time in order to work on conserving energy and staying efficient.  Aloha, Al

Erik Scharffenberg

Here in the PNW, our paddling experience changes with the seasons. We do get beautiful summers, with very little rain and lots of warm sun. We’re also “lucky” that our rivers don’t freeze over in the winter, so we can paddle year round, even though it’s really cold. Right now, as spring has begun and the time has changed, it’s nice because the paddles after work don’t have to be in the dark.

12742716_1159159750761992_9012004063312228324_nThe weather is also beginning to change, and it’s so nice to paddle in shorts and a t-shirt again, instead of trying to strap your canoe on top of your car as fast as you can before your fingers freeze and become useless. Most of my training is done on the Willamette River, where I put in right downtown Portland, but paddle a mile up river and you begin to see some amazing wildlife. We get to see Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and many other birds. We also enjoy Sea Lions, River Otters, Beavers, huge Sturgeon and many other fish jumping. It’s pretty special to be able to get in a good, hard workout, yet also enjoy nature. We’re nearing the end of our winter small boat series, where we race OC-1, OC-2, and surfskis on rivers, lakes, and the Sound, in Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver, BC. In fact, the championship race is this weekend in Seattle, and then it’s on to 6 man season!

Inez, Vic Allen, Meg

Stuck In A Rut?

With Spring in the air and the enthusiasm high to get out on the water it seems near impossible that we could get stuck in a rut with our paddling routine or training right?  It does happen. Here are some words of wisdom from ‘Elele Vic Anthony Allen.  He has many training miles under his belt so take it all in and here’s to training with enthusiasm and a great season!
Are you stuck in a rut, experiencing a plateau in strength, concerned with overtraining? Have your workouts become dull and lifeless, and in need of amping, ramping and revamping?
If this is your conclusion, could it be the problem is not the workout but your attitude? A bright and hopeful and energized state of mind can often transform an apparently fruitless and lifeless workout into an inspiring mountain-mover where two steps forward are followed by three steps upward and another one onward, and again and again to the top. Imagine the view at the mountain top, sense the fulfillment of the steep slopes hiked and every crack and ravine crossed. We reach the top one workout at a time. Vic Allen 8
Are you enjoying your training or is it distressing? Is it an obligation, or a desirable pursuit? Is it fun, like a hobby, sport or recreation, or is it hard work, toil and trouble, like stacking cinderblocks or digging ditches? I know — it’s sort of a combination of all the above!
Whoever we are, whatever the time of year and if we are yet with breath, we are always seeking more effective and interesting training methods. We know muscle develops slowly and strength builds gradually, and we’ve exhausted every training routine since the days of Sandow.
Make a plan! Truth is, any plan, if you haven’t practiced it in a long time and it isn’t an outright bad plan, is probably a good plan. The only requirements are for you to execute it with form, focus, intensity, assurance and continuity.

  • Start with nutrition… give Hammer Nutrition a try for great endurance fuel.
  • Get a paddle that feels good and is built right for your purpose.
  • Don’t quit! Quitting is so final. It’s also so tragic. Quitting, even an extended layoff, is like close to dying while still breathing. Inez, Vic Allen, Meg

First race of our season is just right around the corner.

See you Together on the Water — Vic Anthony Allen