The One Board Quiver
I wanted to try out my Pau Hana Big EZ Ricochet as a workout machine. It isn’t one, of course — not in the sense that a workout machine is some sort of distance board designed for flatwater. Yet an all around board can be fine for regular workouts as long as you adjust your expectations to a one board quiver. You won’t break any speed records. You’ll also have to adjust your stroke for the wider platform. But even these, you still should be able to get a reasonable workout.
I took my board out into the Hudson about an hour before low tide. Now the Hudson River is an estuary. It reverses direction depending on the tide, and that reversal can be a little confusing. The river doesn’t just change direction at once. It happens chaotically, (so I’ve been told) with often one part of the channel flowing one way and another in the opposite direction. Now low tide is also when the river tends to stop. This lasts anywhere from half hour to an hour, but it’s noticeable.
But that’s just background to what promised to be a gorgeous workout. I suited up for the one board quiver trials with a 2.5 farmer john wetsuit, full PFD, and a coiled leash. I used my regular paddle, a KeNalu xTuf. I turned on MotionX, my go-to tracker for my iPhone. Then into the 53º water I went.
One of the things I like about MotionX is the way it gives you audio feedback. I set it so every five minutes in tells me my time, distance and speed. Not only is it good workout data, but it’s all good conditions data. I know my average paddle speed on flatwater, so the feedback tells me how much the wind and or current is in play. The thing was, about ten minutes in, something was odd. I was recording speeds over 4 miles per hour, and even over 4.5. That’s awfully fast for this board — even for a dedicated flatwater board that’s not terrible. Obviously something was going on. I figured the tide had maybe changed early and I was riding it upriver? It happens. In the meantime I paid attention to my technique and listened to the amusing phone updates.
And back again
My turnaround is tiny Fish Island. It’s an exposed rock but also a good current marker. As I approached it, things looked a bit weird. I wasn’t seeing wakes trailing upriver like I should. If anything, it almost seems like the current was going in the opposite direction. But that couldn’t be happening, right? I was just riding the current the other way! On a side note, a wide board like this is nice when turning in current. I’ve fallen more times rounding Fish Island than any other place because of cross currents, but never yet on this board.
I turned and paddled near the middle of the channel. Then I got my speed reports: 5.3 mph, 5.5 mph, 6.3 mph! What the hell? The only thing I could figure was that I was catching the current again. When I finally did my final turn, I started recording some lower speeds, something between 3.8 and 4.1 mph, which is a lot closer to right. Even then I might have had some current assist. So who knows?
What does this say about the board? When I was paying attention to technique instead of the weird MotionX feedback, it felt like a great platform to just work on that. Sometimes I worry too much about how fast I’m going, and then my paddling gets sloppy. Ironically, a slower board kind of forces me to think more about that instead of raw speed. Focusing on technique also keeps me from getting the dragging sensation I get with a surf-style board. You know the feeling, when you feel like you’re pulling the board over the water instead of gliding through it.
Clearly I’m going to have to repeat this experiment. Nobody’s going to really believe that I paddled an average speed of 4.6 mph on an all-around board. Maybe an expert racer could, but that ain’t me. Heck, I don’t even believe it, except that the data is right in front of me. The only explanation is that I went downstream both ways! Only on a tidal estuary like the Hudson could you do this, and only during a very narrow window, but hey, weirder things have happened.