Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Learning to Sprint

This blog post appeared last weekend on the Paddle Monster blog page. While I’m not planning on sharing material posted on Paddle Monster anywhere other than that site on a regular basis, occasionally there are going to be posts that I think are too useful to keep from the SUP community at large. In that case I’ll share them here so that everyone can give them a read and see if they are of any help to their own paddling. The rest of the posts will remain at Paddle Monster only, but will of course be available for the cost of a basic membership.

 Enjoy reading this post. I hope it helps your paddling.

Learning to Sprint

We’re in the middle of the summer paddling season. People are going in lots of races and realizing that doing a 6-mile race isn’t just a case of paddling at the ideal pace for that distance. They’re discovering you need to be able to sprint as well. Whether it is a sprint off the beach to the first buoy, a sprint to the finish, a mid-race pick up to get on a wash or hammering to catch a bump it’s not just helpful, but actually necessary to be a good sprinter that can change gears on demand and efficiently hit very high speeds for relatively short periods of time. So let’s take a look at sprinting and what you can do to make yourself a better sprinter.

The key to sprinting is getting the same (or for very short sprints even more) load on the paddle as normal but in a much more dynamic fashion so that your stroke rate is higher. The wrong way to sprint is to just throw strokes in. The right way to do it is to find load, just like when we work on the loading drill, but get everything loaded on the paddle and then unloaded really quickly. We want to engage big muscles rapidly with a positive blade angle and body weight on the blade, and then start to think about exiting sooner than we normally do so that it feels like we’re “getting everything done early” in the stroke.

To do this we’re going to need to focus on gathering water on the blade more rapidly than normal and working against the water more quickly and dynamically than normal. Imagine trying to generate the same or greater impulse that you do in your traveling stroke in a shorter period of time (or distance of blade travel relative to your board) than normal. You want to get good load on your blade as you do this and use your legs to continue to load into the pull till the blade is vertical. Then you want to very quickly unload the paddle by bringing your hips back underneath you towards your paddling side hand and straightening your legs, springing forward as you do into the weight forward, “tippy-toe” position so that you’re leaning forward and feeling like you might topple forward over your toes.

While you’re exerting greater amounts of force in a shorter period of time, you’ve got to be relaxed as you do it. Your hips, legs and arms need to be as free of tension as possible so they are able to move freely and naturally without any internal resistance. Remember, connection is about feeling water loaded on our blade. If there’s tension in your hands and arms you won’t feel that connection nearly as well and won’t be able to link it to the big muscles required to drive the movement. And if there’s tension in your legs and hips they’ll move more slowly, get out of rhythm and make you feel unstable.

Should I shorten my stroke?

Again, the idea of sprinting is to generate the same or even more impulse (which moves that board forward) than normal and as quickly as possible, then get the blade out of the water and prepare to do it again. You’ll find this a lot easier to do it you try to “get everything done early” generating as much impulse as possible with a positive blade angle and limiting the amount of time when the blade is in the water with a negative blade angle.

To do this you’ll be aiming for a stroke that feels a little shorter than normal, but that shortness needs to come from the back of the stroke rather than the front. Unloading the blade forcefully and dynamically will get it out of the water quickly, help you push the board forward off the exit and allow your board to carry lots of speed between strokes which actually makes the next stroke easier.

What you don’t want to do is try to get the blade out before your feet at the expense of loading the paddle. I’ve seen lots of paddlers try to paddle at very high stroke rates by getting the blade out of the water before the blade passes their feet. While in theory this is great, in practice it likely isn’t. Generally what happens is that in order to get the blade out so early, the paddler ends up cheating by lessening the load they should be getting on the paddle. They end up taking a great many strokes, but each one is less effective than they could be. By taking just a few less strokes but finding more load it’s possible to go faster.

On the other hand, if you pull too far past your feet with a heavy load on your paddle the blade is going to feel like it gets stuck behind you. This is a disaster if you want to go fast. Not only will it slow you down, it will make your board feel heavy and “sticky” in the water and suck energy out of you as you try to move a board that has bogged down forward through the water.

The fact of the matter is, even though you’re trying to get everything done early and make the stroke a little more compact by making sure you don’t pull through too far, your technique shouldn’t really be changing. You should be paddling pretty much the same as you always do mechanically; it’s just your rhythm and timing that should be changing to help make your stroke more dynamic and compact.

Tips to help you sprint

  • Lean forward more. Find an aggressive stance on your board. Imagine standing in ski boots so that you’re leaning forward right from your feet. When you’re reaching forward think about your hips being forward. Imagine that if someone looks at you from the side they’ll see your bum is ahead of your heels. Get in the “tippy-toe” position I’ve talked about, where your weight is forward and it feels like you just might topple over your toes. Your whole body should be leaning forward except for your upper legs and your head should be in front of your toes. Imagine that from your feet to your head you could draw a line that would be almost the same but opposite angle that your paddle is at the catch. I know I’ve used this photo a lot already but it’s because it’s good technique. Check out Seychelle Hattingh in this position at the Lost Mills 200m sprint this past June.
  • Generate the impulse that moves your board forward as soon or as early as possible. Obviously you don’t want to start this before the blade is properly set, but at the same time you don’t want to set the blade and then start to pull. You don’t have time. And if there is a lag between setting your blade and starting to pull, your paddle will actually be acting like a brake and slowing you down. The reality is it’s actually okay to be getting a little splash at the catch if you’re aggressively getting on your blade and getting it buried quickly. Lots of the top canoe-kayak athletes have catches that appear to be a little less than clean but they are aggressively burying and loading body weight on their blades which more than makes up for a tiny bit of missed catch up front. It’s a trade off, and while it is better to be aggressive and have a clean catch, I’d rather see someone who is trying to sprint be a tiny bit sloppy at the catch and aggressive than be perfectly clean at the catch and not aggressive.
  • Generating the impulse that moves the board forward early means being aggressive and even more dynamic with your hips. You want to get the board feeling like it is up and on top of the water as quickly as possible by engaging your big muscles as quickly as possible. Your hips are the biggest, most heavily muscled joint in the human body. It’s essential to find a way to use them to generate force. If you look at video of both Connor Baxter and Seychelle at Lost Mills you see they both use their hips to drive their stroke in an explosive and dynamic fashion. Good top hand pressure directed down the paddle shaft helps stabilize the blade, which gives your big muscles connection to work against.
  • In almost the same motion as you begin to engage your big muscles you want to get on top of your paddle with your body weight. Don’t be afraid to continue getting on top of your paddle with your body weight and building on the load you’ve already placed on your paddle at the catch. Your legs should bend a little bit more to facilitate this extra loading of body weight. Just make sure you don’t go too deep or you’ll have trouble exiting early and you’ll get stuck at the back of the stroke.
  • Almost as soon as you’ve loaded weight on the paddle you want to start thinking about your exit. You’ll want to start coming up with your shoulders, straightening your legs and, most importantly, bringing your hips back underneath you towards your pulling hand. People tend to think that your reach shortens when you sprint. I suppose if you have a very exaggerated reach at slower speeds that is true, but what really should be happening when sprinting is the blade entering in the same place and the stroke becoming more compact by your efforts to get everything done early. If the stroke shortens it should shorten at the back. Try to start your exit even earlier than usual, but try not to sacrifice load to do it.
  • Don’t just push off your paddle at the exit; spring forward off of it. If your paddle is well loaded as you exit and you’re able to feel connection as you bring your hips back underneath you, really try to make that motion explosive. As you’re bringing your hips forward straighten your legs and literally spring forward from your feet into the tippy-toe position. Get your weight forward for the next stroke as quickly and dynamically as possible. If you’re imitating that movement against a loaded paddle you’ll be accelerating your board forward off the exit more than you can imagine.

Take a look at the following photos of this year’s “Fastest Paddlers in the World” from Lost Mills in Germany. Though Connor and Seychelle have very different techniques, they both do similar things when they sprint that allow them to paddle with a stroke that is both fast and loaded/connected.

1. Weight forward in “tippy-toe” position at catch:

2. Fully loaded in pull, notice Connor has slight splash from catch that is more forceful than clean:
3. Exit, springing forward to “tippy-toe” off exit:
 4. Slow motion video of stroke cycle

Can you gather the same amount of water on your paddle in a sprint as you do in your traveling stroke?

This is the big question everyone wrestles with. My answer is that it depends. In a very short sprint I don’t think you want to lose any connection so I actually think you can gather the same and maybe even a little more on your blade. Because you’re attacking the water aggressively and being super dynamic at the beginning of the stoke the board gets on top of the water really quickly. This makes the rest of the stroke feel lighter, even though it is fully loaded. And a really good exit that involves both the hips reloading forward and your legs straightening and helping everything spring forward helps really accelerate the board off the back of the stroke. The fast recovery in a sprint helps you get the blade back in the water for the next stroke before the board has slowed down much. This makes the next heavily loaded catch feel easier, making it sustainable for the duration of the short sprint.

However doing everything I just described above may not be very sustainable for a more prolonged sprint. Consider that you’re trying to sprint all out with perfect technique just like a track athlete running the 100m with absolutely perfect strides. It is not only tiring on your muscles but also the nervous system that is controlling them. You may only be able to sustain this for a very short time like 20 seconds or so, so you’ll either have to transition into your slower traveling stroke (which is not conducive to going fast) or learn to sprint in a lower, slightly less loaded gear.

Sprinting is a slightly less loaded gear should be just as aggressive and dynamic as described above but with slightly less water gathered and held on your blade at the catch, and your stroke may not be quite as loaded and deep in the pull. This lighter geared sprint doesn’t necessarily have to have a faster stroke rate as the heavily loaded one can be quite high for short distances, but it should definitely feel like it is more sustainable for longer periods.

Choosing the right gear (i.e amount of load) is really important. You won’t be able to sprint very fast if you load up a paddle so much you can’t pull it dynamically. Your gear should depend on your strength but also your cardiovascular ability. Some people will want to pull less but don’t mind breathing more quickly (remember, you should be exhaling every stroke), while others will want to breathe a little more slowly and don’t mind pulling a bit more. Experimenting to find the right gear for you is essential. I’ve blogged about this before -click here.

Trying to sustain a sprint really just involves keeping your board up on top of the water. Eventually you’ll feel like your board is dropping deeper into the water, your stroke is getting heavier and your board is slowing down – almost as if it is getting bogged down in mud. A great way to prevent this (or remedy this as it is starting to happen) is to recognize this happening as soon as possible. Recommitting to making the first foot of your stroke as dynamic as possible is usually enough to make the rest of the stroke feel easier, help the overall stroke feel lighter, get the board back up on top of the water and allow you to sustain your sprint a little longer. You may have to refocus on this a few times over the course of your sprint. **When your mid race traveling stroke seems to “bog down” you can focus on the same thing to help maintain your pace.**

Dead starts vs. Running Starts

The big difference between dead starts and running starts is, obviously, the initial speed of the board. For running starts the board is already moving, so it is much easier to lock into the stroke and rhythm described above.

For dead starts you first have to get the board moving before you can find the stroke discussed above. In my experience trying to pull a full length stroke usually results in the first stroke being too slow and often getting stuck in the water close to your body or behind you. Either way it is going to make for a slow start.

Instead you want to load and unload the paddle really quickly in front of you, with a good positive blade angle and almost the same reach as you’d have when sprinting from a running start. The stroke should be very short and all in front of you. It should basically be an “in, out” kind of stroke (or an “on, off” kind of stroke if we’re talking about body weight); just in the water with some weight on the blade and immediately out. If sprinting requires a more compact stroke and you need to feel like you’re “getting everything done early”, then a dead start needs to feel even more like that.

Once the board is moving you can lengthen the stroke a bit at the back and approach the stroke that you’d use to sprint with from a running start (in other words, you can make the stroke a little less compact so it is like a normal sprint stroke).

For most of you your sprinting will improve at pace with the improved ability to load and unload the paddle in your basic traveling stroke. As you get more and more comfortable with the elements of technique we’ve been addressing in our drills and your basic technique consolidates, you’ll be able to execute it at increasingly faster speeds with more relaxation and generate the same impulse in increasingly more compact stroke lengths so it feels more and more like you’re getting everything done early. It may take some time, but this method of learning to sprint, while perhaps taking longer to go fast initially than just going nuts on the paddle and thrashing away, will always lead to faster sprinting in the end.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All Star Showdown – The 2016 14’ x 25” All Star vs. the 2015 14’ x 25” All Star

I remember seeing a few internet posts in the winter in which there was some speculation on whether the 14’ x 25” 2016 Starboard All Star was as fast as the 2015 model in flat water. I’m here to put any speculation to rest. Forget about it. It’s a lot faster.

 Developing the Test Protocol

When testing boards the first thing you need to do is come up with some type of coherent test protocol. You start by asking yourself, “what are we looking for?”

As most SUP races are distance races, ranging anywhere from 5 to 30 miles, you want to come up with a test that assesses the board’s speed and efficiency over that distance, not a short, all out sprint. The trouble is, if you’re testing over that distance you can’t fairly test two or more boards in one day without the test paddler’s fatigue becoming a factor. You need to come up with a way to simulate the pace paddled in races of these lengths without actually paddling the distance. This allows you assess the board’s performance for distance races, without test paddler fatigue becoming a factor.

At the same time, since the efforts are going to be sub-maximal, in order for any comparison to be valid you need to establish some controls which ensure that the test paddler went equally hard in each test. Only then can you be ensured that the boards were tested equally.

So what controls can you establish? Well, the quality of the water you’re testing on is an obvious one. Conditions need to be consistent. Conditions affecting time are wind, current, water temperature and to a lesser extent air temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. Your tests should he run in calm, sheltered water and boards should be tested sufficiently close to each other to minimize the chance of changes in any of these variables.

At the same time, there needs to be some controls placed on the test paddler to ensure consistency of effort from one test to the next. We can’t easily control power output, but we can control stroke rate and heart rate, both indicators of the test paddler’s effort.

With those controls in place it is just a question of how long to test for and what data to collect. You want to test long enough that any differences between boards are discernable and outside the range of experimental error. And you want to collect every piece of meaningful data that you can reliably measure with the equipment you have available.

Fortunately, I have access to some pretty sophisticated monitoring devices through the Canadian Canoe-Kayak Team. Most national teams in sprint canoe-kayak send their crews out on the water in races carrying a small GPS/accelerometer device that allows meaningful data to be reliably collected for analysis. These devices can also be used in training to assess the quality of training and the degree to which training replicates race conditions. The devices the Canadian Team uses are called “SPIN units” and they collect a lot of interesting data.

The Test Protocol

I settled upon a three-minute test, paddled at an aggressive race pace to test the performance of each board and it’s suitability for a flat-water distance race. This pace was faster than I’d go for an entire race, but one I’d commonly use for parts of a race. For any test to offer valid information it needs to be repeatable with the same or similar results in each test, so I ran the test and collected data three times over a one week period. I would have preferred to run more trials, but had limited access to the SPIN unit. I waited for reasonably calm conditions and ensured that the conditions remained constant from the test of one board to the test of the next. I figured three minutes should be a long enough time to show one board being faster than another, and if it wasn’t, I would stretch the test out for a longer period of time.

To minimize the effect of warm-up/lack of warm-up and fatigue, I changed the order in which the boards were tested for the first two tests and flipped a coin to see which I’d test first on the third test.

I also decided to run a “max speed test”. This was performed quite differently. I removed any control on heart rate and stroke rate and just paddled all out for 30 seconds, allowing myself a three stroke build up before collecting data to minimize the effect of a good or bad start.

Data Collected (3-Minute Test)

I was interested in collecting and comparing data that would indicate a difference in performance between the two boards. As it turns out I was also able to collect and compare data that provides interesting insight into how well each board can be paddled, which in turn affects performance. Below is a summary of the data collected and compared:
  1. Average Velocity: This is pretty straightforward and what we’re ultimately interested in. This is the average velocity for the three-minute piece and is collected in meters/second (m/s). I have converted it to kilometers/hour (km/h) as it is an easier unit for most people to understand. 
  2. Average Pace/Km: This is the average pace for the three-minute piece expressed as minutes/km. This is the measure I normally use on my GPS when I’m paddling and that makes the most sense to me. 
  3. Average Stroke Rate: This represents the average stroke rate or cadence for the three-minute piece. Ideally this should be the same in both tests. In fact there was usually a slight difference in stroke rate from board to board and test to test, despite my best efforts to keep it the same. The differences were small and I normalized them by dividing velocity by stroke rate in each test. 
  4. Average Distance per Stroke: This value represents the average distance the board travels in each stroke during the three-minute test and, with stroke rate controlled, represents a good indicator of each board’s ability to glide and maintain speed between strokes. 
  5. Average % Positive Acceleration per Stroke: This is the average amount of positive acceleration in each stroke for the three-minute test, expressed as a percentage of the total acceleration (positive and negative or deceleration). Given that we call the acceleration curve for the average stroke for each paddler a “stroke profile” and that it is like a fingerprint for each paddler, one would intuitively think that this would be more a function of the paddler’s technique than the board and would be fairly consistent from board to board. 
  6. Peak Velocity: Though not as important in the three-minute test as the max speed test, I though it would still be interesting to see which board reached the fasted speed in the three-minute test done at constant stroke rate. Again, this was expressed in m/s and I converted it to km/h. 
  7. Peak Pace: This is simply max speed for the three-minute test expressed as time per kilometer. 
  8. Distance: This is the total distance in meters paddled in the three-minute test 
  9. Ave Velocity/Stroke Rate x 100: This is my attempt to normalize average speed for differences in average stroke rate for each test. The greater the value, the better. 
  10. Stroke Effectiveness (SE): This is a key indicator of performance for most national teams in canoe-kayak. After collecting data like distance per stroke, time to peak acceleration, ave % positive acceleration, peak acceleration, etc. for numerous time controls and races in canoe-kayak and comparing the data against performance it was somewhat surprising to learn that none of these pieces of data have a strong enough correlation to performance to be considered key indicators of performance. Some of the fastest athletes had very short time to peak acceleration, others much longer. Some had great distance per stroke, others much less. There was no one bit of data that seemed to correlate directly with average velocity over a given distance.

    However one piece of data that could be generated from data collected, stroke effectiveness (SE), had a very high correlation to speed and performance and, if the paddler could reliably produce a consistently high SE in training was a good predictor of performance potential. Stroke effectiveness is arrived at by multiplying velocity by distance per stroke. It turns out the distance per stroke is somewhat irrelevant when considered alone as distance per stroke values are generally higher at lower stroke rates. Yet nobody wins races with the low stroke rates required to produce high distance per stroke values. If we assume the stroke rate rises in some fashion as velocity rises, we can assess the quality of the stroke producing that velocity by multiplying the distance per stroke by the velocity. This turns out to be a strong indicator of performance. So I was curious, would one board allow someone to paddle with greater stroke effectiveness than the other? 
The results are summarized in the table below:

I also decided to quickly run a test to see which board seemed to have the greatest capacity for speed in a short sprint. Though less important to those racing distance races, it is still a beneficial quality for a board to have. The ease with which a board accelerates, and max speed it can attain for short bursts, can have an impact on the racer’s ability to catch a bump or a draft train, get into a turn first, get off the start quickly or win a sprint to the finish.

For this test I decided to do 30-second all out sprints and allowed myself a three-stroke running start. With the board moving slightly this would be a more relevant test of the board’s ability to accelerate, as it would better represent all of the dynamic accelerations required in a race except for the start.

 Again, I attempted to ensure that conditions were constant and that the tests were performed in the same stretch of water. I collected all the same data as in the 3-minute test but also added the time to peak velocity which is an indicator of the board’s ability to accelerate. As these were all out tests I did not bother to attempt to control heart rate so it was not recorded. Also, I did not bother to control stroke rate but did record rate as it is easily retrieved from the SPIN device.

The results for the 30-second test are found in the table below:


 The 2016 All Star outperformed the 2015 in every measure. This wasn’t surprising. The board feels faster, and some of the data supports the contention that it is more “paddler friendly” when it comes trying to paddle fast. It’s worth taking a closer look at some of the data and also at the tests themselves, to explore whether or not they were sufficient to truly assess the differences between the boards.

In each of the 3-minute tests, the 2016 outperformed the 2015 in every single measure. In the first two tests the margins between the two boards were huge. In the first and second tests the average velocity of the 2016 was 6% and 3% faster than that for the 2015 respectively. In both tests the stroke rate was slightly faster on the 2016 (2 strokes/min in test one and 1 stroke/min in test two). Despite my best efforts to paddle at the same rate it is difficult to do it, even with feedback from a GPS device. This was anticipated and so in an effort to normalize speed for stroke rate I calculated a speed to stroke rate ratio for each test (velocity/stroke rate x 100). Even when velocity is normalized for stroke rate the 2016 performed substantially better, with the ratio being 2% and 1% greater in the first and second tests respectively.

In the third test I made a real effort to keep the stroke rate down on the 2016 board and actually paddled with a faster stroke rate on the 2015 (53 strokes/min to 54 strokes/min respectively). Yet the 2016 was still 1.5% faster over the 3-minute test, and when normalized for stroke rate the difference was a 3.5% advantage for the 2016.

When averaged over three tests, the average velocity was 3.6% greater for the 2016 and, when normalized against stroke rate the 2016 performed 2% better.

Peak speeds reached in each of the tests were higher for the 2016, and the distance per stroke and total distance travelled in each test was greater for the 2016 as well.

Surprisingly the average percentage of positive acceleration for each stroke (Ave % POS acceleration) was substantially greater for the 2016. Ave % POS acceleration is a measure of the average percentage of each stroke in which the board is accelerating vs. decelerating. Imagine an acceleration curve for each stroke like the one seen below:

Each different colored line represents the acceleration for a different stroke from the sample of strokes collected. The black line represents the average acceleration for the entire sample. Anything above the X-axis is positive or forward acceleration, while anything below is negative acceleration (or deceleration). The shape of the curve tends to be like a “fingerprint” for each paddler and describes the way their boat or board responds to the forces they produce during the stroke. If technique is consistent one would expect the shape of the curve and the relative proportions of acceleration to deceleration to remain nearly constant from board to board, with differences perhaps seen in the magnitude of the acceleration and deceleration. The % POS acceleration is represented by the area under the acceleration curve.

Surprisingly, the % POS acceleration values were consistently and dramatically higher on the 2016 All Star as summarized below:

This is a remarkable difference in the % POS acceleration between the two boards, with the minimum difference being 7.1%! 

This got me thinking about the “paddleability” of the two boards. I am extremely familiar with both, having spent over 2000 km on the 2015 since June 1st 2015 and more than 800 km on the 2016 so far this year. Familiarity with and comfort on the boards should not be an issue. I’ve done enough paddling to know that my technique is consistent from test to test and board to board. Yet to me, the 2016 feels faster. It seems to climb out of the water and sit on top of it much more easily. It also seems easier for me to paddle with a faster stroke rate.

I have always been a paddler that prefers to paddle with power more than stroke rate. If you use a cycling analogy, I’d prefer to ride in a higher gear rather than a lighter gear. I’ve realized that if I’m going to improve and go faster, I need to develop more comfort in a lighter gear and paddle effectively with a higher stroke rate. The 2016 board seems to help me with that. Because it seems to sit so high in the water the strokes feel lighter, and the feeling of a lighter load makes it easier for me to put more strokes in in a sustainable fashion.

While I can feel that the 2016 seems to be more user friendly for me in terms of stroke rate, I can’t honestly say that I can feel that it accelerates for a greater portion of each stroke compared to the 2015. However the data doesn’t lie, particularly when the differences between the two boards in this metric is so large. For me at least, given the way I paddle, the 2016 board seems to have characteristics that make it easier for me to make it perform.

In the 30-second test, the difference in average velocity between the two boards was negligible in the first test. In the second test it was dramatic. Stroke rates were slightly different, so the best way to compare the two boards is through the velocity to stroke rate ratio. Considering the velocity to stroke rate ratio for each board in the two tests we see:

Again, the 2016 outperforms the 2015 by a substantial margin. All other measures again show the 2016 to be a better performing board, and just like in the 3-minute test we see that the 2016 stays in positive acceleration for a longer period of each stroke by a sizeable margin.

While I believe strongly in the validity of the tests and the technology used to gather the data, it is fair to ask the question whether the sample size is enough to draw firm conclusions in each of the two tests.

For the 3-minute test I believe it is. Though I only had access to the SPIN unit for a few days since it was being used by the National Canoe-Kayak Team, I believe I could have run the test 100 times with the same outcome. I can feel the difference and, despite heart rate values being comparable for the tests performed on each board, the perceived exertion from the perspective of load on the paddling muscles feels less on the 2016. As much as I have grown to love the 2015 All Star in over 2000 km of paddling in all conditions, I feel even better on the 2016. When testing the 2017 All Star vs. the 2016, I’ll aim to run up to 10 trials between each board and should hopefully have less of a problem accessing the SPIN unit as it will be after the Olympics.

For the 30- second test there is, in my opinion, less certainty in the test results. While the 2016 outperformed the 2015 by a substantial margin when stroke rate was accounted for, the fact that it is a) a small sample size and b) I have not done much speed training making the data collected a little less meaningful and more random. Given the current state of my training and the inconsistency of my performance from one effort to the next in short sprints at this point in the year, I think it would be useful to have a much larger sample size for this test. I’ll aim to do at least 10 separate trials over 30 seconds when comparing the 2017 to 2016.

What is particularly impressive to me, and what gives me great confidence in the equipment I’m using is that I used the exact same test protocol and technology to test a variety of different boards in June 2015. As I was looking for a new board to ride I wanted to test as many as I could to find the one that would perform the best for me. The 2015 All Star was a hands down winner over the other brands I tested. The only board I tested that outperformed it was the 2015 Starboard Sprint.

Given that the 2016 All Star outperforms by a considerable margin the board that outperformed all the others I tested last year, I feel really confident that I am riding the fastest 25” board available. And given that it’s design allows it to really shine in rougher conditions I think I can say with confidence that I couldn’t be on a better board.