Twice As Nice - Tips for racing with the Barracuda AR Duo at Kathmandu Coast to Coast
Teams of two complete the entire Coast to Coast course over two days together - they must stay within 50m of each other at all times.
Barracuda Kayaks, is a proud sponsor of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast, and Tandem Teams are provided with a Barracuda Kayaks AR Duo for the kayak section of the race
Racing Kathmandu Coast to Coast in 2019? We have put together some tips and tricks to get you familiar with the Barracuda AR Duo, and some thoughts for training, and for race day to get you flying into that Waimak Paddle feeling excited and confident. Special thanks to Hannah Johnston from Make it Dirt for sharing her valuable insights into preparing for the Tandem Teams Event.
#1 - Get Familiar with the Tandem Teams Handbook
This regularly updated publication will become your dog-eared, well-loved, energy-gel-stained Kathmandu Coast to Coast bible! The Tandem Teams Handbook contains everything you need to know for race day from registration to race day time table, compulsory gear to cut-off times. There are some particularly useful sections about River Forecasts, and a guide for your support crew too. Be sure to check back to the website from time to time, as there will be an updated version issued for 2019.
#2 - Prepare to Paddle
Hannah, from Make it Dirt says:
Don’t under-estimate the importance of the kayak leg. Even if you’re not out there to win, you still need to be paddling fit and confident on the river. This will immensely help the enjoyment factor too! So to avoid a long, uncomfortable 6-7 hours on the river on race day, here’s a few things you can do:
Book in a Grade 2 course for both of you. This isn’t imperative as the rules so far have stated that only one of you needs a Grade 2 certificate, however it is recommended for a number of reasons:
a) It’s all part of the fun training journey together.
b) You will both be confident on the water on race day.
c) It allows for the unexpected. If something happens to one of you, maybe you have a bad day, or roll an ankle going through Goat Pass the day before meaning you can’t operate the steering in the tandem kayak, you will still be able to get down the river in one piece.
Join a local canoe or kayak club. A club can offer you access to equipment, coaching, group training sessions, and it’s a great place to meet other training buddies, here are just a few:
– Central Otago – Southern Lakes Multisport Club
– Christchurch – Arawa Canoe Club
– Nelson – Tasman Bay Kayak Racing
– Wellington – Kupe Canoe Club
– Auckland – Waitemata Canoe & Multisport Club
Get some technique analysis and additional coaching. Get your paddling technique sorted right from the start – it will save you pain in the long run. Yes it’s likely to be frustrating, you want to improve quickly, and you just want to go fast. I certainly know these feelings, I’ve been there. In fact I still feel that way some days. But putting in this work early on will give you a strong, efficient technique that means you can go faster for longer – not to mention more comfortably.
#3 - The Waimak
The Waimakariri River paddle is one of the most spectacular parts of the race, and comprises of two braided sections, with the Waimakariri Gorge in the middle.
Taking a guided trip down the Coast to Coast course is one of the most valuable things to do in preparation for your race. It will be a bonus if you can do the guided trip in a tandem kayak with your team mate, but you will gain a lot of skill and knowledge by going down the river in individual boats.
#4 - Paddling Tandem
It’s a good idea to spend some time paddling together in a double kayak to get a feel for it. This doesn’t have to be in the Barracuda AR Duo’s used at the race, any double will do. There might be one you can hire/use at the kayak club, or ask around and someone might have one hidden away. Here’s a few things Hannah learned while training with her team-mate for the tandem event:
– You can both get surprisingly wet just from the splash off the other persons paddle, even on flat water on a dry day.
– Use similar or the same size paddle blades. Otherwise the person with the larger blade can end up doing more work.
– Matching cadence between the two of you can take some work. Often the “comfortably hard” pace for the both of you doesn’t match up.
– Clear communication is important on all levels. It can help to have a process or key words that you generally use because it can get noisy on the river and hard to hear each other.
If you want to hire a Barracuda AR Duo for training there are a few options:
PaddlerZone in Christchurch have two available for hire.
Arawa Canoe Club in Christchurch may have a couple available for training. Check their website and Facebook page.
In the past there have been a couple of the Duo’s available for hire from Flock Hill Station (on the main road between Christchurch and the start of the kayak leg). Check the official Coast to Coast website and Facebook page for these details.
#5 - The Barracuda AR Duo
The Barracuda AR Duo has been designed specifically for adventure racing. It is a stable, light weight, durable tandem kayak that handles well in the rapids.
Check out this video for a guided tour of the AR Duo:
Hannah, from Make it Dirt, says: Don’t be fooled by the stability of these kayaks, they handle quite well on the river, as long as the kayak knows that you are the one in charge. You need to be actively paddling, just like you would in a single person kayak. Don’t let this scare you though. Just put the work in and you will be rewarded.
Top Tip: Be in excellent control of your AR DUO - get that rudder down and locked:
Are you AR Duo Race Ready?
Set your foot pegs to the right distance
Ensure you know how to work your rudder, and how to lock it down
Pack your compulsory gear into the kayak so that the weight balanced in the boat
Ensure your neoprene hatch covers are secure and water tight before closing the hatch lids
Nut-out the transition, what order do you need to put your gear on? Do you need to change foot wear? What extra gear will you have if the weather is cooler/warmer than expected?
Practice transition with your support crew, so everyone knows what they are doing, and what order they need to do it in, don’t forget the transition at the end of the paddle either!
Practice attaching the spray deck to the kayak - this is a good one to run through with your support crew for quick transitions on race day
Experiment with different forms of nutrition and hydration for race day, and practice the system that works best for you
#6 - Food & Water
Fuelling and hydrating yourself during the paddle is really important. You need to have enough energy to sustain your system throughout 4+ hours of paddling, as well as priming your fuel tank for the final cycle leg into Christchurch.
Figure out how much you need to eat and drink for your projected paddle time, and then take a bit extra to be sure that you have plenty
Liquid nutrition is a good option, and can be stored in a hydration bladder, and accessed via a drinking tube, so you don’t need to take your hands off the paddle to "eat"
Think about how you will attach hydration bladders to yourself or the kayak - there are bungees on the deck, as well as space in the "glove box" inside the cockpit and space behind the seat.
Many PFDs have pockets specifically designed for hydration bladders, and attachments for drinking tubes, including a block to hold drinking tubes at mouth level for easy access
Rasdex make a range of kayak accessories, including this Multisport PFD - it meets all of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast Safety Requirements for the race, has several pockets for food and hydration bladders, and has the drinking tube block that holds tubes at the right position and height to allow you to drink from them without taking your hands off the paddle
Consider having some extra tubing of the correct diameter (can be found at hardware stores) so that you can have greater options for hydration bladder placement within the boat
Think about securing your food and water to the boat, so that if you do end up swimming, you don’t lose your food and drink to the river
Water tubing can be duct-taped to the side of the boat, with the end of the tube in the water which will allow you to drink straight from the river
Consider having some solid food options, gels, bananas and muesli bars are good to have stashed in a pocket, or taped to the deck for if you need something extra, or your tummy starts to grumble
Top Tip: The beauty of paddling an AR Duo kayak is that you dont ever have to completely stop paddling to eat/drink - one person can have some food while the other keeps paddling!
It’s a good idea to keep your brain and body well powered up on the paddle so you can be sure that you are making good decisions about reading the river, and that you have enough energy to paddle effectively and maintain good control - boost up your energy levels before you get into the Gorge and again as you draw close to the transition at Gorge Bridge so you can power into that final bike leg fully amped
If you have any questions about the Barracuda AR Duo get in touch. All the best with your training and we can’t wait to see you at Kathmandu Coast to Coast 2019!