Optimum Trim = Optimum Performance!

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Paddlers at the start of a race. Photo, OnIt Pro

With over 30 years of a performance boating background and having a lot of racing in my blood, I should know a few things about the effects the correct “Trim” position (Webster’s Dictionary: to assume or cause a boat to assume a desired position in the water) can have to your performance on the water.

My grandfather, Bob Nordskog, was the founder of Powerboat Magazine, a World Champion powerboat racer and I was one of his crew members for the Powerboat Magazine Race Team for many years. I built and raced my own stock outboard hydro at the age of 15 and my brother and I were also National Offshore Champions in our class back in 1987. As a surfer, paddler, waterskier and founder of OnIt Pro, LLC, I feel qualified to add my two cents on this matter.

Tests have shown that a hull which has Xtreme Cream, (Xc), applied to it, got on a plane quicker, had a smoother ride, reached a higher speed and reduced fuel consumption.

In performance boating, optimum trim results in more speed and less fuel consumption. In paddling, the optimum trim results in more speed and less paddle fatigue!  However, there are some major differences between the two because of the much higher speeds in a powerboat. The optimum trim for a boat brings the nose up out just enough to get most of it out of the water so as to not be dragging in the water creating friction and resistance which slows the craft down. If the nose of the boat gets too high out of the water, you lose speed as more air is trapped under the bottom of the hull and becomes more like a sail.

If you watch a boat start from a stand still, it plows through the water for a while before the speed of the hull reaches a point where it releases from the water and the transom of the boat lifts and enters a plane, as in a flat or level surface.

At higher speeds you want to create lift out of the hulls so there is less wetted surface running through the water. The friction of air is a lot less than the water! When you go into a turn at high speeds, you want to bring the nose down and let the hull bite the surface of the water helping you turn better, then as you come out of the turn, trim the boat out again to lift the nose down the straightaway.

Danny Ching making a buoy turn. Photo, OnIt Pro
Danny Ching steps back to execute a perfect buoy turn. Photo, OnIt Pro

With Stand Up Paddleboard racing it’s quite the opposite. Since the only horsepower is the rider digging with their paddle, the optimum trim for an SUP is where the board is riding as flat as possible through the water. If you are set back too much, the board will stall through the water and the tail drags will slow you down. On the turns you want to step back and get as much of the board out of the water to make your precise turn. You don’t have to worry about getting air trapped under the hull at these speeds!

After watching and studying all the great elite paddlers it seems to me that they all have one thing in common, (besides using OIP), they all know exactly where to stand on the board to get the best glide!

Top athletes of any sport, take it serious when it comes to their equipment. That is why most of the Top SUP racers have been applying XC on their SUP boards for the last few years. They know that if they reduce friction, they increase speed which allows their board to reach optimum trim for a better glide.

Check your photos and see where you ride on your board. Is the nose of the board sticking up and the tail dragging? Are you too far forward on your board to where the nose is plowing or purling deep in the water? Where are your feet planted? It’s OK to move around on the board to find the right trim and glide; all the great paddlers do! If you watch them carefully, they are moving all over the board. When you find the “sweet spot”, you’ll know it. Remember, each board and hull design are different and plane through the water a little differently.

Also, your weight is a factor. When a ‘grom’ paddles, their boards are not sinking in the water, thus they will get a good glide. The board is riding on top of the water, not submarining through it! With the unlimited energy the young kids have, they can be really fast on the water! It blew my mind the first time I saw Riggs Napoleon paddle a few years ago. I’ve never seen anyone with a paddle stroke so fast! Riggs is now an OIP Team Rider!

Obviously when you are on a wave or riding a swell things are different! You don’t want to purl the nose of the board and stuff it, so standing toward the tail and getting the nose up works best! This is why surfers are so good in open water and ocean races; they know how to move up and down the board to get the most speed and performance.

All and all, trim (or foot placement on your board) is one of the most important things to think about when paddling to get the optimum performance out of yourself and your equipment. Remember, every board has a different sweet spot for that optimum trim!

Erik Nordskog is the founder of OnIt Pro, LLC. OnIt Pro produces a speed and performance coating for watercraft to reduce friction on the surface.

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