February 1, 2013
Clint Robinson Clinics Melbourne and Surfcoast
Clint Robinson Coaching Clinics - Melbourne & Surfcoast
After the outstanding success of the previous 2 clinics, multiple world and Olympic Champion Clint Robinson will be returning to Victoria again to run more clinics.
Options will be available in Melbourne and on the Surfcoast.
Don't miss it - it will book out quickly!
> Download Flyer (PDF)
October 31, 2012
A study on carbohydrate loading
Tips for carbohydrate loading
An informative article that sheds light on a subject I frequently get asked about - carbohydrate loading.
How to Carbo-Load for a Marathon
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
New York Times - Phys Ed
October 31, 2012
> Original Article
appears that despite the depredations of the big storm, the New York
City Marathon is likely to take place as scheduled on Sunday. While the
47,000 runners entered have too little time to remedy any major lapses
in training, there is one element that can still be tweaked, two new
studies show: what to eat in the days before the race.
ideal composition of a pre-marathon diet has been somewhat in dispute
recently. For years, marathoners were told that they should swallow as
many carbohydrates as possible in the week leading up to the race in
order to "load" their muscles with stored carbohydrates, or glycogen,
the readiest energy source for working muscles.
But such prolonged
carbo-loading often leaves runners bloated and heavy; when muscles pack
in glycogen, they also add water, and therefore weight, which must be
hefted throughout the 26.2 miles of the marathon. Women, in particular,
have been found in some studies to benefit little, if at all, from
prolonged carbo-loading before marathons.
However, a study
published last month in The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and
Exercise Metabolism found that carbo-loading can be effective for both
men and women - but is best if it's truncated, encompassing only a day
or so of dietary manipulation.
For the study, researchers at the
University of Minnesota turned to a ready-made pool of volunteers,
consisting of students enrolled in Physical Education 1262: Marathon
Training, who were aiming to finish the local Eau Claire Marathon for
Forty-six students joined the study, 36 of them women and all but two of them first-time marathon runners.
Several weeks before the event, the runners completed a two-mile time trial, to determine their endurance and running ability.
beginning three days before the race and continuing through breakfast
on race morning, they kept detailed food diaries. They also noted, to
the extent possible, what they ate and drank during the race.
All of the students finished the race, with an average time of 4 hours 43 minutes (and, one would hope, an A grade in P.E.).
statistical analysis showed, those runners, both men and women, who'd
eaten the most carbohydrates on the day before the race finished faster
than those who'd eaten fewer carbohydrates that day.
neatly replicate those of a larger study published last year of 257
male and female runners who completed the 2009 London Marathon. Those
runners also kept detailed food and training diaries, which researchers
compared with their finishing times. In this case, the scientists also
tracked each runner's pace at five-kilometer increments throughout the
They found that, as in the Minnesota study, runners who'd
loaded up on carbohydrates the day before the race ran faster than those
who had eaten fewer carbohydrates. The difference was especially
striking beginning at about the 18-mile mark, just when many runners
famously "hit the wall" and feel their energy flag. The carbo-loaded
runners jauntily maintained their pace. The others did not.
both studies, carbohydrates eaten at breakfast on race day, during the
race itself or on days earlier in the week were relatively unimportant.
It was primarily what people ate on the day before the race that
And yet, few of the runners in either study actually
consumed enough carbohydrates to benefit, even if they thought that they
were doing so. In both studies, the minimum effective "dose" of
carbohydrates was at least six or seven grams for every kilogram of a
person's body weight, or about a quarter-ounce of carbohydrates for
every 2.2 pounds of body weight. By that formula, a 220-pound runner
would need to consume at least 25 ounces, or more than 700 grams, of
carbohydrates on the day before a marathon to finish faster.
the Minnesota study, fewer than a quarter of the marathoners consumed
that many of carbohydrates on the day before the race. In the London
study, barely 12 percent did.
What those numbers suggest is that
many more marathon runners could benefit from a brief bout of
carbo-loading than currently do. And the process itself is relatively
simple, says Patrick Wilson, a graduate student at the University of
Minnesota who led the study of novice runners. You don't need to
increase your food volume or calories the day before a race; just
replace some fats or proteins with carbohydrates.
"I often tell
people to choose relatively concentrated sources of carbs, like juices,
pasta, rice and sweets," Mr. Wilson says. "That way, the volume of food
needed isn't so enormous." In addition, he says, "lower-fiber foods may
be good, since that could reduce the potential for stomach distress
during the race." (According to a rather intrusive study this year,
extremely high intake of carbohydrates was associated with faster times
during endurance races but also with "nausea and flatulence.")
completely upend your normal diet, though. "Stick to foods that are
familiar," Mr. Wilson says. "It's always a bad idea to experiment right
before a race."
And don't expect that diet alone will lift you
from the back of the pack. In the British study, every increase of 1
gram per kilogram of body weight in the carbohydrates that runners
consumed on the day before the race increased their speed by about 0.1
miles per hour.
Far more important in the overall determination of
people's finishing times was their training and their fundamental
fitness. In the Minnesota study, the runners who were fastest during the
time trial were fastest in the marathon, too.
You can't alter
your training or talent at this point. You can, though, have a chocolate
chip cookie on Saturday and call it race preparedness.
October 31, 2012
Clint Robinson Coaching Clinic
August 21, 2012
Paddling Coaching Clinics
Coaching Clinics with the World's Best - Clint Robinson
WePaddle is proud to announce that we are bringing Clint Robinson, the best kayak/ocean/surf ski paddler ever, to Victoria to run a weekend of coaching clinics.
If you are serious about improving your paddling, then you'd be crazy to miss this one.
Options are available in Melbourne, Torquay or Barwon Heads.
Numbers are limited, so don't muck around. Click HERE for bookings.
Any further questions through Tim via email or call 0425 739 918.
August 6, 2012
Sydney surf ski
New Beginner/Intermediate Surf Ski
Craft report on the new Stellar S18S beginner/intermediate ski by Gavin Clark of Slipstream Surf. Read about the features of the latest Slipstream release or contact Tim Altman at Wepaddle for more information.
August 2, 2012
Molokoi World Surf Ski Championships 2012
Tim Altman - Molokai 2012
The following article was recently published in the Surf Coast Times.
Tim Altman of Torquay on the pace on a nice runner in the Kaiwi Channel in Hawaii, during the 2012 Surfski World Championships recently.
Molokai mission a success for coast paddlers
BY ALI DEANE
Five local paddlers headed to Hawaii recently and returned triumphant.
On Sunday May 20 Tim Altman, Jeff Sweeney, Bruce Dunlop, Peter Currie and Andrew Sargeant conquered one of the most gruelling but prestigious events on the surf ski calendar, the Molokai World Championships.
It is an event the Aussies have known success in, with numerous champions adorning the leaderboard in its 36 years.
The race encompasses a massive 51 kilometres of open ocean racing from the island of Molokai to Oahu across the Kaiwi channel.
Known for his role as coach to athletes at Torquay SLSC and in Geelong, it had been some time since Tim Altman had felt the call of competition, when he took on formal training for the event in January alongside comrade Jeff Sweeney.
Each exceeded expectations in the three and a half hour and beyond race, as much a mental battle as physical, and although Currie was sick, still finished well.
Altman returned with the biggest smile when he collected category title in the masters and his hoped for top ten finish, in tenth overall, with a time of three hours, 40 minutes.
"We were wrapped with our results, and we were a real team," Altman told the Surf Coast Times.
"It was my first attempt at the Molokai, and to end up coming tenth, I was really happy.
"Especially with a field of such a high standard, they're all professionals."
Dunlop paddled in 20th overall and took third in his division, the 50-59, with a time of 3:53, and Sweeney and Sargeant finishing midfield in times they were very happy with.
"It was a fantastic result all around for the Victorian contingent," Altman said.
Many contest the iconic race, in the three separate events - the outriggers in early May, the surf ski in late May, and the board and stand-up paddle next week.
In addition to a successful race, the pre-race briefing where contestants joined hands to honour the tradition of the race made the Molokai even more special for Altman.
"This combined with listening to the build up and hype from locals and fellow competitors gave a real perspective of the deep tradition of the race and this channel, and how important it is to them and to the Hawaiian culture. It is so much more than just a long paddle back against some fast paddlers."
Altman said he hoped to head back for a second go next year, aiming to halve the 20 minutes between him and race-winner Greg Barton.
July 2, 2012
Exercises for Sporting Performance
Optimal breathing during excercise important if you want to get the best out of your sporting performance.
The objectives of Breathing Dynamics training for sporting performance include:
- Nose breathing at all times.
- Building tolerance to hypercapnia (elevated CO2 )
- Developing diaphragmatic strength
- Creating a breathing rhythm with reduced breathing rate and volume
The exercises take time to learn, but you will learn to exercise whilst
breathing using nose only, driving breathing using the diaphragm and
with lower heart rates and breathing rates at most levels of exercise
For more detailed information please contact Tim Altman Naturopath.
April 30, 2012
Rapid Ascent M2M
Rapid Ascent M2M Distance Chart
Anyone doing the paddle leg of the Rapid Ascent M2M (Marysville to Melbourne) race coming up may find this document useful for determining how far you've been and, especially, how far to go!!
March 4, 2012
Review of the Stellar SES Surfski
Stellar SES Surfski Review
- By Wesley Echols
(Source: www.surfskiracing.com - 24 Oct 2010)
Unlike my other reviews where I had no formal industry ties; this
review is unique in that I am the Northeast Sales Representative for
Stellar and based on my experience of paddling and reviewing surfskis
have provided Stellar with feedback both during the prototype testing of
the larger Stellar SE as well as the development of the newly released
SESbased on my experience reviewing surfskis. Like all my other skis
that I have reviewed; I did purchased all the skis for this review. I
point this out because many reviews are done on
loaner/borrowed/sponsored skis and often only paddled a few times before
the review is written.
Feedback from many readers has been that my surfski comparison chart,
reviews, and Surfski Basics DVD have been helpful to many novice,
intermediate, and advanced intermediate paddlers like myself. I have
gotten feedback from all over the world reporting that this information
has been helpful to them in purchasing a ski. If nothing else the
reviews are a point of reference to be able to ask appropriate
questions. Ultimately it is up to the paddler to gather all the
information that is available and make an informed decision on the
purchase of a ski. I am very pleased to have been able to share my
experience with paddlers around the world as the sport continues to
While I paddled the larger SE prototype a few months ago, I had been
anxiously awaiting the SES model, the model specifically designed for
small to mid-size paddlers like myself. So like most of us reading this,
I asked myself some of the familiar questions. Will I like the fit? How
fast is it? How stable is it? How is the construction? Having come off
my best racing season last year, I certainly did not want to be
purchasing and racing boats that would compromise my having another good
For this review I included several pictures of the most common waters
I paddle in to give you a better sense of the conditions I review the
boats in. Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Sound, Sakonnet River are some
of the best places to paddle along the Eastern Sea Board due to its
varied conditions and access to these waters. Newport, Rhode Island is
one of the Sailing Centers of the World for the same reasons. Maybe in
the future, an East Coast Surfski Championships could be held here. Good
enough for the America's Cup, good enough for an East Coast Surfski
How fast is it? The $2,400 to $4,400 question. I received the boats
on the Thursday before the Essex River Race, a six mile tidal river race
that kicks off the New England racing circuit, not leaving much time to
get the ski dialed in the way I typically would with a new boat. So
that morning of the Essex Race, I put the four inch flat water rudder on
and hoped for the best. The conditions were one foot beam chop in winds
ranging from 15 to 30 mph. Tim, my other training partner who owns my
original V12 paddled it with his custom flat water rudder. We raced the
entire race together finishing in a photo finish. My burning question
had been answered: does it have the top end speed of other high
performance skis on flat water? Absolutely!
Flat water is one thing, but what kind of speed does it have in ocean
conditions? Fast forward a few weeks to the Sakonnet River race. This
was a 12 mile race, with some of the familiar faces on New England
racing circuit, albeit missing a few since the violent thunderstorms
kept a few away. The SES ultra answered the call again; this time in
mixed conditions upwind and downwind conditions. I was able to win the
race by almost a minute in 1:48:52. I did have a chance to paddle the
SES 70 miles between the Essex and the Sakonnet getting the new ski
On my 3.18 mile time trial course I use to compare all my skis, the
SES in the Advantage Layup (31 pounds), I had the 3rd and 5th fastest
times ever. So even this modestly heavier layup has excellent
speed. Another indicator of its speed is how fast I am in comparison
with my calibrated training partner of many years. For instance last
year I calculated our total race times in the 10 races we did to get the
overall differential in our times. We were within a minute total of
each other over the 10 races. That is normalization! Over the years I
have raced a different boat every year, so Tim represents my baseline to
compare how I am doing since he remains the constant having raced
predominently a V10L ultra and a V12 (last year). In our training
sessions, my times and heart rates have mirrored Tim's since I have been
paddling the SES. Tim and I are the same age as well.
I also have paddled the SES Ultra, Excel, Advantage layups in mixed
conditions including many downwind conditions in 2-4ft seas which is
typical in certain areas in Rhode Island Sound, and Narragansett
Bay. The Ultra/Excel layup accelerates as well as any other ski I have
paddled, while as you might expect, the Advantage layup is slightly
slower due to the weight. Upwind the bow rarely slaps, and downwind it
rarely gets buried.
Most paddlers I have communicated with over the years want to know if
the ski they are paddling will limit their speed/performance compared
to other skis if everything was equal. Well we all know it is never
equal, but I feel very confident that SES has the top end speed of any
ski based on these two races, my time trials, my
calibration/normalization with my training partner Tim over 200 miles in
varied conditions that I have accrued thus far on the SES in all three
layups. Lastly, the speed is very deceiving as others have commented
regarding Stellar skis. If you don't put a clock on it, and go by
"feel", you will be tricked into thinking you are not going as fast as
you are. Why is it so fast? Read on.
The following day after the Essex Race, I took the Advantage (31
pounds) layup out in true New England ocean conditions in 2-4ft seas for
2 hours off Cormorant Rock (Newport, RI) to give it a proper test of
stability. While not quite as stable as the more stable 18-19"class of
skis, it is not far off in this layup. Secondary stability is extremely
high without having to go through the learning curve of "trusting the
boat" which can take months.
The initial stability is very good and reassuring without any of the
twitchiness associated with most HPS. Under power the SES has no
excessive movement that defines so many other skis in this class. The
transition from initial stability to secondary is very predictable. The
SES also dampens much of the wave action. Every ski has its own
personality in this department requiring varying amounts of "time in the
bucket" to gain your confidence in anything but flatwater. Many of us
give up on some of the "faster high performance" skis because of this
learning curve, especially those who don't have the ability to paddle in
ocean conditions multiple times per week. This confirms what most us
know by now, "you can go faster on a more stable and predictable
While the SES is very stable, what is uniquely different about the
SES is how it feels going downwind. Most HPS have some wobble going
downwind until you adjust to that particular ski in those downwind
conditions. Most novice and intermediate paddlers have the most
difficultly going downwind due to this feeling of instability. Due to
the flared hull beyond the footplate, the SES is extremely stable with
little excessive movement; therefore you can paddle with full power
sensing this unique stability in the hull. You can visually see how
stable it is, as well as feel it. The tracking is comparable to most
other skis; however, the Ultra requires extra attention and more input
from the rudder due to the lightness of the ski (a trait that you will
see with any ski once you get down into the 20 pound range).
Having all three layups of the SES at different weights, I was
excited to test each layup regarding stability and speed. My general
rule of thumb is that four pounds of weight is the margin that
noticeably affects the speed and stability of a ski. While I have owned
almost every ski in at least two layups, never have I had three layups.
The SES comes in the 21 pound (ultra), 24 pound (excel), and 31 pound
(advantage). It comes in a 33 pound version that I have not paddled.
The advantage of an ultra light ski is that the acceleration is
instant when trying to catch a bump, get on someone's wash, or close the
gap on a competitor. It also requires much less energy to propel it
through the water especially over a long race. The minus is that you
give up some degree of stability and in a long race in rough conditions
and this can cause boat fatigue for all but the well trained
paddler. The SES Ultra is no different.
The SES Ultra is the most stable high performance ski but it requires
some extra attention while the Advantage requires nothing but having a
good time - just put the power down and enjoy the ride. The Excel, like
other skis at this weight (24-25 lbs) is an excellent weight for
performance training and racing.
Design and Fit
The SES model was specifically designed from the ground up for the
small to mid size paddler (hull, deck and bucket). I can't help but make
the comparison to the sleek design of a breed of dogs called
Whippets. Whippets are small framed, leggy, sight hounds that can reach
speeds of up to 35-40mph in short burst while chasing prey of rabbits or
squirrels. They are the fastest dogs on the planet due to their unique
build and running style that is maximized for speed and agility in a
small package. We just rescued a Whippet/pointer mix yesterday and she
is amazingly sleek and lighting fast. So like the Whippet, the SES model
was built to maximized speed and stability for paddlers 140 to 190
pounds. It is only 20 feet, 4inches in length and has one of the
narrowest beams at 16.6 inches with a narrow bucket.
The narrowness of the bucket will exclude some paddlers who think of
themselves as mid size. I fall into that mid size category at 5ft
9inches and 175lbs. The bucket fits me perfectly with no padding in the
hip part of the cockpit. I took a measurement of my hips (widest point)
and they are 39 inches. Since fit is such a key factor, I wanted to be
clear that if your hips are much larger than this, the bucket maybe too
narrow for you. So like all skis you need to try it for comfort before
purchasing. I found the bucket to be very comfortable. I have done
several 2.5 to 3 hours continuous paddles with no hint of tight
hamstrings, leg numbness or tailbone soreness. Fit is highly
individualized, so once again, trying a ski before you buy is extremely
important. Stellar is planning on widening the cockpit slightly to
accommodate more paddlers. As for as length, the SES will accommodate
very tall paddlers, albeit, tall with narrow hips.
The height of the hump is very low. So for shorter paddlers like me
(29.5 inch inseam) the hump is thankfully a non-issue. Many skis have
the hump placed too high for the shorter paddlers so your calves rest
too much on the hump negating maximum leg drive. You can place a pad in
the bucket to modify this problem; however, this most often increases
your instability. The bucket height to foot well height is appropriately
designed for maximum leg drive. The ratio falls in between the other
models of skis I have reviewed. The Stellar skis have a built in leash
attachment that should be standard on all skis for safety reasons.
Remounting the ski was easy due to its shallow bucket and strong
secondary stability. You can lay the ski on its side and practically
rest it there, while you remount. Although the bucket is shallow, the
footwell is fairly deep with high gunwales forward of the hump so the
ride is very dry.
Draining the water from the cockpit varies from ski to ski. The SES
sitting still has a large volume of water in the footwell. It drains
more slowly than many other skis taking approximately 45-60 seconds to
clear. Once it is clear, and you are paddling above a 5.2 mph most all
of the water is clear. I found at my training and race pace this not be a
problem. Once above 5.8 mph the footwell is virtually water
free. Stellar however is working to improve this even further.
With the exception of the Red 7, the SES has the only 3 point
footplate which means it has the most solid footplate of any ski I have
paddled. The footplate has the conventional attachment points on each
side of the foot well, but with the added camber locking center rail
system that allows you to absolutely push as hard as you can on the
footplate with no creaking, scraping, flexing, or bending, (rock
solid). Due to the center rail system, the plate does not touch the
bottom of the foot well so it is easy to adjust the footplate without
forcing the footplate along the bottom of the foot well which can be
annoying in many skis. The footplate height is different in the SES
model vice the SE model. The footplate on the SE model is oversized for
paddlers with extra large feet while the SES model has a standard size
footplate. The foot strap while serviceable, can be easily removed which
is what I did. I replace this with the Linke foot strap with the
addition of my Timbuk2 shoulder strap pad that makes for a wonderful
foot strap that I have on all my skis. I could put 3 Garmin's on these
foot straps and it still does not flop into the bucket. This is also
very helpful in remounting during larger seas where less rigid
footstraps tend to collapse when trying to re-secure your feet.
The Stellar skis use spectra line for rudder lines which has its pros
and cons as I have mentioned in other reviews. The "sponginess" in
comparison to steel cables can give the sensation of a less connected
feeling, yet in the Stellars, overall steering (hull, rudder
combination) is comparable to the top skis in this category... My pet
peeve of tying the rudder lines while adjusting the rudder pedals for
the first few times, still annoys me to no end. True, once you have them
tied off like you want, you rarely have to retie them, but never the
less, and it takes way too much time in my opinion.
The Stellar skis have a traditional shaped 8 inch elliptical rudder
and a nicely shaped flatwater rudder. I used the flatwater rudder in the
Essex Race that is notorious for its weeds. Unlike any other rudder,
the rudder post on the 8 inch rudder has no forward leading edge so
there is no room to collect those aggravating weeds. While you have to
use a wrench to remove the nut to switch out the rudders, this is very
simple to do with little fuss.
Another unique feature of the Stellar skis is there structural
rigidity just forward of the footwell and aft of the cockpit. The area
transitioning from the footwell to the deck is a gradual curve to add to
the integrity of the ski, unlike the traditional near right angle found
in many skis. Also, the rear deck that runs from the back of the seat
well to the rudder is raised slightly to add structural integrity to the
ski as well.
Quality of construction is very pleasing on these boats. All are
vacuum molded. As mentioned earlier, Stellars come in 4 different layups
with 4 different price points and weights. The Ultra is made from
pre-preg unidirectional carbon fiber to increase stiffness, and decrease
weight. This is the stiffest and lightest boat I have every owned. The
boats are practically flawless with no rough edges in the transition
areas, no soft spots, thin spots, etc. Even the glass layups are
extremely stiff. See the Stellar web site for construction details of
the different layups.
The SES offers a near perfect combination of speed and stability for
the small to mid size paddler who fits into the narrow bucket, based on
typical NorthEast USA ocean conditions
- Most stable high performance ski.
- Has top end speed of any surfski.
- Rock solid 3 point footplate that is easy to adjust.
- Built in leash attachment.
- Easy to remount.
- Nicely shaped flatwater rudder
- Four price points in 4 layups at different weights
- Construction is excellent with added structural integrity in key areas
- Comfortable bucket.
- Massachusetts based Sales, Distribution and Warranty Coverage
- Narrow bucket may not fit broad range of paddlers (SE model may be better option).
- Could drain better at lower speeds.
- Foot strap needs to be more functional
See more pictures and read comments on the original Stellar SES Surfski Review by Wesley Elchols.
March 4, 2012
Review of Stellar Elite Low Volume (SEL) Surfski
Stellar Elite Low Volume (SEL) Full Review
- By Wesley Echols
(Source: www.surfskiracing.com - 3 September 2011)
Stable as V10 Sport Ultra, Fast as V12
I know the above statement for some will be hard to believe especially since I am the Northeast Stellar Rep. However, my reviews have been substantiated across the world. My advice to any paddler is get in the boat and paddle them and form your own opinions. Keep in mind however, that my experience (skill level) has increased dramatically since I first started my reviews. Enough of the disclaimers. Read on!
In May of this year, 2011, I demo the first SEL and was impressed, but I did not know the full story until this week, August 29. Because May is the beginning of the full on race season, I put the SEL on the rack and switched to training and racing in my SES's. Now 4 months later, I have spent a fair amount of time in the SEL. First let me make the distinction between the SE and the SEL.
The SE is 21ft 6 inches long (6.5meters), 17.5 inch (44.5cm) wide. The SE is made for the big boys over 200 lbs. It has a lot of bow volume. I paddled the SE about 2 years ago and wrote a short review but did not go into much depth because it was too big for me. I did not feel I could adequately review a ski that did not fit. However, even then I knew it was an incredibly stable ski.
The SEL is the little sister to the SE. It is 21ft 6 inches long (6.5meters) and 17.3 inch wide (44cm), so slightly more narrow. While the same hull as the SE, the SEL has significantly reduced bow volume and is a full inch narrower at the catch which is great. It is long and very sleek. The footwell (not just the track) has been extended to accommodate even the tallest paddlers, even longer than the SE's footwell. A recent paddler, Brian, a professional sailor, at 6ft 5inches, fit with his knees at the proper height for an optimal fit. It also helps the hump is low in all the Stellars skis. He recently had bought a V10 but it was too short for him and too narrow in the bucket. He was too heavy for the SEL at 235 but he relished the fit.
I have both layups in the SEL, the 31lb advantage and the 26lb Excel. The day after the Double Beaver Race I paddled with Mike Tracy on the Sakonnet River. The Sakonnet is more like a channel connecting Rhode Island Sound to the Mount Hope Bay. It is 2-3miles wide and 12 miles long and is a wonderful place to time trial skis. I have GPS time trialed kayaks and skis since 2000. This day with Mike we had some
great downwind conditions with perfectly formed 2ft seas. Mike was in his Mako Elite and I was in the SEL Advantage. We surfed neck and neck the whole time and it was then a HUGE light went off, this ski surfed great! I had not expected it to be so stable and so fast.
So a month goes by and I suggest to Dave Thomas, co-owner and co-designer, of Stellar Skis and Kayaks that I would like to demo an excel version to thoroughly time trial and race. So on Monday, August 29, day after Hurricane Irene, Big Wave Bill Leconte stopped by my house and we took a spin on the Sakonnet. Bill has one of my old Legends. We paddled upwind past Black Point and then turned to head downwind. I got into a good groove and by the time we reached Sandy Point, I reset my GPS, and put the hammer down. 12 minutes and 12 seconds later and 1.62 miles, averaging 8.197 mph, I had my 2nd best time ever on this course. My previous record was in my Ultra carbon SES on May 15th of this year, averaging 8.32 mph.
The next day on my 3.21 course which by the way includes the same course as my 1.62 mile course except I start at Black point, 1.5 mile further up the river. This time I broke this record with a time of 24.23, average speed 8.152 for 3.21 miles. Previously the record was in one of my all-time favorite skis, my carbon Legend, averaging 8.141 mph back on June 28th, 2009. This time in the Legend by the way, was three weeks before the Blackburn Challenge. I went on to PR the Blackburn Course in this Legend with a time of 2:52:32 paddling virtually alone for the entire race with just my Heart Rate monitor. This year I broke that record in my carbon Ultra SES with a time of 2:49:55.
Yesterday, September 3, I was excited to be paddling off Sachuest Point in Rhode Island Sound where the conditions are much bigger than on the Sakonnet. The Sakonnet River empties into the ocean at this point. This has the best surfing in Rhode Island because the waves are smoother and better formed than say Beavertail which has a much different feel than Sachuest Point. Mind you it is still rough for Northeast conditions. This is where Big Wave Bill Leconte seeks 3-7ft seas routinely in the summer/fall.
In fact, Bill just demo my SES Excel yesterday in the afternoon in conditions SSW 15-20knots, 5-7 ft. waves, 5 miles off shore. Tim and I were paddling much earlier at 7:30 am in 2-3ft waves with 10knot winds and much closer to shore than Bill. Bill clocked a max time of 13.3mph. I digress some, but Bill said the nose of the SES rarely buries in these conditions, and surfs great, and is much easier to remount than his Legend because the secondary stability is great on the SES so you can just lean it on edge while remounting and it stays there. He suggested a 9 inch or 10 inch rudder vice the 8 inch rudder for bigger conditions like these. He has a 9inch rudder on his Legend.
One of the reasons I wanted to take the SEL in these conditions (2-3ft) was to see how it responded with the 4 inch weedless flatwater rudder vice the 8inch rudder. It did not disappoint. The ski is so stable I can easily use this rudder if I think I need extra speed over handling in races. Tim (V12 Ultra) and I paddled upwind for 30 minutes and then turn to go downwind. We were flying!! I maxed at 11.01 mph. We paddled for 10 miles at a tempo pace with some pickups. I also wanted to confirm the volume of the ski. I weigh 178 and the bow only buried twice in this conditions. I also wanted to know how wet the ride was with the low gunwales. While it is a wet ride, it handled fine as it has in similar conditions, and draining was not a problem.
My other outing in the SEL was 2 days before the East Coast Surfski Championships when Reid Hyle and Rob Mirlenbrink and I paddled past the famous "House on the Rocks" headed toward Beavertail. It was much more chaotic than the Double Beaver Race just a few weeks ago by far. I was in the SEL advantage layup and brace only once or twice.
This ski fits virtually everyone in regard to leg length. My inseam of 29.5 inches is very short. Brian, the 6ft 5 inch paddler, I mentioned earlier fit fine the SEL with low knees. The trade off in the Stellar skis of fitting everyone is there is a huge space in front of the footplate, I mean huge. Visually, I first was concerned but after testing, I did not find it to be a problem with water splashing over the low gunwales in general. However, today paddling upwind in 12 mph/up current in short 2ft seas, I could have used a footwell cover. We are making a detachable footwell cover. The cover will be also helpful for winter paddling, when I want my feet to be a dry/warm as possible. I can easily fit my hydro pack here and most guys will be able to do the same.
Remember, this is a low volume ski by design. If you are over 200lbs and paddling this in the conditions above what I have described, then you will have less freeboard and will experience more burying of the bow and a wetter ride. If you are over 205 or so then you need to move up to the SE or if you just want to paddle the SEL on flatwater than you would be fine.
The overall beam is 17.3 inches. As you can see in the pictures, the measurements at the point the base of the cockpit slopes upward, it is 15.25 inches. The widest point in the ski is 15.5 inches where the hump begins. This is where I have padding for a personalized fit so I have hip rotation with about 1/8 separation from boat and me but I have contact with the ski when I edge it or in rough seas. I also put some padding at the calves as another contact point and to keep my legs straighter for optimal leg drive (no splaying). My calves do touch the padding slightly on extension.
For comparison I measured my Evo at the same points. It measures 15.5 inches at base of the back of the cockpit as it slopes upward. So it is ¼ inch wider at this point. The Evo like most skis begin to taper almost immediately hence it gets much narrower toward the hump. The Stellars do the opposite and get wider at this point and then start to taper as you get into the footwell. Basically the Stellars don't taper much as they carry some of the width through to the footwell. This possibly explains why the Stellars boats are so stable with the same beam widths of other manufacturers. So with all the Stellar skis you have more room than other manufacturers in this regard creating a much different feel as far as the fit. Some skis you feel you are too jammed into them as they taper depending on your size and your preference.
The SEL has excellent initial stability with no twitching. The secondary is astounding. You can edge the boat over like a sea kayak, hold the edge and paddle. There is much less of a learning curve because the secondary stability is predictable and it literally waits for you to either hold the edge or edge it to capsize. The point is it holds right there waiting for you to make a decision, similar to the "Stable class of skis" hence the reference the V10sport stability. You could substitute the Evo as well.
But the real test was in the waters I have paddled in: flatwater, confused, 1-2 occasional 3ft waves, etc. I am able to paddle it with a 4 inch flatwater rudder that also speaks to the stability of it. Stability before speed is the mantra. The SEL defies this; you can have it both, stability and speed. I can paddle at full power almost never bracing because the platform is so stable.The SEL Excel is more stable than 30lb SES and is getting close to the V10sport ultra. So I would put it in between the V10sport Ultra and the Huki S1X's.
I had a PR in it as mentioned earlier and the 2nd fastest time, and another 8th best time this week as well. I am sure the more I paddle it and race it, more PR's will fall particularly in the rougher and longer races. Do not be lulled into the perception due to their stability you are not going as fast. This is a common mistake. Get your GPS!! This perception has been confirmed for me repeatedly from other paddlers of Stellar skis.
I did notice my SES's are slightly quicker to accelerate when jumping on a wave than the SEL. The SEL is a foot longer and 1 inch wider in the beam than the SES's. The glide is not quite as smooth on the SEL as in the SES, Uno, V12 or Mako's. In downwind conditions of 1-2.5 ft here in New England this boat surfs as well as any boat I have paddled. I really enjoyed my Legend for true downwind where it was at its best, but the SEL is more stable, carves turns better, and is faster and easier to remount. Upwind it goes over the waves and has some bow slap. This ski is Low Volume and is best for paddlers 150-200lbs. The 150-180 lb paddlers will enjoy the ski in typical New England conditions as I have described. The 185-200 will enjoy the boat on flat water and up to 1 foot waves.
I will race in at the Lighthouse 2 Lighthouse next week hoping for a moderate to rough day. In the ocean, the SEL excel can hold it's on with any other ski that I have paddled: SES, Uno, V12, V10L, Legend, Huki, Mako 6, Huki's. In pure flat water the edge goes to the Uno, SES, and V12. The caveat is that I will buying a full pre-preg carbon unidirectional (best in industry) Ultra SEL for next year to race in so I am sure it will be faster, have better glide, be more buoyant, less stable than the 26lb Excel. I will be in this ski for the Blackburn, Double Beaver, and the longer races.
September 12 Update after my Lighthouse to Lighthouse Race
My race confirmed for me how fast and stable the SEL is in both flatwater and ocean conditions. The first 7 miles was flat, and the 2nd 7 miles was a mix of quartering and beam. I place 5th in a highly competitive field and was beaten by my long time training partner by 14 seconds in a V12. We paddled within 3 boat lenghts of each other the entire 14 miles. Three other excellent paddlers fell apart when the conditions went from flat to very small beam, quarter chop in less stable boats for them. Stability is vastly under rated when choosing a ski!! That is what makes the SEL so unique. Below is my Garmin track with Heart Rate and Speed. I had my best time ever on this course: 2:03:06 for 14.10 miles. See the L2L Race Summary for more details about the race.
As I have always done, I urge you to demo as many skis as you can to see how they fit, how stable they are, and yes, how fast they are in the conditions you will predominately be paddling in. Be sure to see how easy/hard they are to remount. Of all the aforementioned skis, the SEL is the easiest to remount so this farther increases you confidence.
So the design team of New Englanders Dave Thomas, Ed Hofmeister and others at Wintech Rowing have designed a ski/skis that defy the old design that skis have to be less stable to be fast. We have seen this trend over the last few years in ski design so it is not surprising that Stellar has computer designed their models with years of experienced making and designing rowing shells.
See more pictures and read comments on the original Stellar Elite Low Volume (SEL) Review by Wesley Elchols.
March 4, 2012
Review of Stellar SR Surfski
Stellar SR Surfski Review
- By Wesley Echols
(Source: www.surfskiracing.com - 8 April 2011)
(Disclaimer: I am the Northeast Surfski Rep for Stellar). The best way to decide on any ski is to gather as much information as possible from paddlers, manufacturers, websites, then paddle all the skis you can to form your own opinions based on fit, stability, speed, cost, durability/quality, warranty, availability, customer service and your paddling goals.
This past fall (2010) I paddled only one of the two SR's in the US at the Kayak Centre in Wickford, Rhode Island. I jumped in it after a few of the employees took it for a spin in the back waters of the Wickford Harbor. I did not know what to expect. Would it be like the other stable skis that I have owned? Would it be more stable, less stable, faster, slower, comfortable, etc? I was pleasantly surprised, as were the Kayak Centre employees. I watched these seasoned kayakers wade out a few feet and jump in the ski, and within minutes feel comfortable. No initial stability twitching, no wobble, no bracing, just get in and paddle. This is quite different from some other skis in this class, especially for paddlers making the transition from sea kayaks to surfskis or for surfskiers who find the high performance skis (HPS) too unstable for them in conditions.
At 19.2 feet by 18.9 this ski is the shortest and widest of the Stellar line. Contrast this to the 20 foot by 16.5 pocket rocket SES. All Stellar models are new designs but share commonalities across the entire line; namely the excellent speed to stability ratio. The SR bucket is designed to fit most paddlers without being too wide and tapers in toward the hip area. The foot plate is the Stellar standard 3 point, ultra secure, no creaking, no rubbing, or no flexing foot plate. This footplate maybe the best in the industry. What is also nice that maybe unique to the Stellar SR, is that the track can be moved a few inches to accommodate really short paddlers or really tall paddlers. So this boat has a wider range of "would be" paddlers. Similar to all Stellar boats, the hump is very low which is an advantage especially for shorter paddlers like myself. This lends itself to better leg drive and better stability since your knees are lower without your calves hitting the hump. I have known a few handy paddlers that have actually modified/lowered their hump in various skis to solve the hump problem. Another built in feature in all Stellar skis is the leash attachment. Stellar boats have a reinforced back deck and the curved area connecting the foot well to the foredeck. This design increases the structural integrity of the boat by not being at a right angles like on so many other skis. The draining is better in this model than in the other models. However, Stellar will be adding bullets that increases the draining time by approximately 30% especially when decelerating. They will also be providing dealers with bullets so they can give to the previous Stellar customers. You also have the option of using the drain plug. I have found that between the plug and the bullets, the excess water is mostly abated except when completely dead in the water without the plug. At training pace, I have found no water in the footwell with or without the bullets. When I noticed too much water in the footwell is when paddling upwind and against the current on a "Big" day. Now with the the bullets, this problem is eliminated.
My usual complaint on the Stellars is the time consuming art of adjusting the rudder lines to get the proper angle on the toe pedals. Self-adjusting rudder lines would be a great addition. Also, as you have noticed on all my boats, I opt for a stiffer single foot strap that does not sag and easily adjusts enough so that I can use my winter paddling boots as well as my summer paddling shoes.
My first impression of the SR was how quick it felt. We don't normally attribute quickness to the stable class of skis, however, this ski felt like it wanted to be paddled hard. Last week on March 28th, I did my first "official" time trial on my 6.4 mile course and I was surprised how fast I actually was. I averaged 7.11 mph (8.26 pace) on the first leg of 3.19 with the current but on a very flat day. On the return leg against the current I averaged 6.49 mph. I have done this particular course 228 times now in all my skis. Anytime I am in the 8:30 min/mile on any ski, I am having a very good day. One week later, I did 8 miles on the same course in very windy quartering seas, much different from last week in terms of conditions. I clocked an 8:45 pace (6.86mph) on the downwind leg with an average heart rate of 149.
A few weeks ago, Chris paddled the SR with Tim and I. I was in my SES and Tim in his V12. On the downwind section in 2ft seas, despite Chris having the flu that kept him in bed the next day, he was able to catch most of the waves we did. This was also the first time Chris had been in the ocean since October which speaks to the stability of the SR. It also speaks to fact that the SR can accommodate a wide variety of paddlers with ease. Chris is has a 36 inch inseam, and I have a 29.5 inch.
So does the SR Excel have as much speed as the other boats in the "stable class of skis? I think so. The SR certainly has excellent "glide" that contributes to its speed and light feeling. Skis that don't have good glide dramatically decrease in speed once you are not applying good effort. In the next month I will have a chance to time trial it even more. The caveat to this is that over the years I have gotten faster in any boat I now paddle. So keep that in mind when reading this.
As I mentioned, the stability is rock solid. No initial twitching, and the secondary stability maybe best in class of the skis I have paddled. You have to want to capsize in this boat. You can edge this ski all the way over on the gunwales and still hold the line and keep on paddling. The stability is predictable and dramatically dampens the confused seas. The bow rarely buries and if it does, it sheds water very quickly. Steering is pinpoint. It turns on a dime and tracks very well upwind and in downwind conditions. The new "balanced rudder" is now standard on the skis. This means the rudder post is similar to what is on all the other skis. This rudder increases the responsiveness over the previous rudder. A 4 inch flat water rudder is available as well like on all Stellar models.
Another example of the SR's stability is what I witnessed last fall. A novice 40 year old, female athlete who primarily paddles an 80lb sea kayak with her partner, demo the SR in the advantage layup at my beach. Within 5 minutes she was experiencing the overall feeling of what it means to be in a surfski (freedom). She was liberated from her 80 lb double sea kayak. The SR provided the stability that even novice kayakers can appreciate without being overwhelmed. Both her and her male counterpart each bought an SR.
The SR is an excellent choice for sea kayakers making the transition to surfskis or persons new to paddling who don't want to begin with a sea kayak. It also would be appropriate for current surfski paddlers seeking out another option in this class of "stable" skis. It offers rock solid stability with excellent glide contributing to its overall speed. It will fit a wide range of paddlers and as is offered in three layups: Excel(25lbs), Advantage(31lbs), and Sport(33lbs).
See more pictures and read comments on the original Stellar SR Surfski Review by Wesley Elchols.
February 20, 2012
Fatigue and immune system deficiencies
Whilst this article
is not about paddling as such, it does cover a health issue that is very close
to my heart. I have done a lot of research on it, have worked clinically with
for it several years, and many paddlers and athletes are or have also been afflicted by it - fatigue and immune system deficiencies. In fact, it was this ailment (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) that I suffered from
for several years, progressively deteriorating until I could exercise no longer
and could barely work, and which finished my paddling career at the
international level. After a very vigorous health program I eventually healed myself from this
affliction and was subsequently inspired to pursue a career in the health and
wellness profession as a naturopath, so that I could help others who also
What causes fatigue:
Fatigue most often appears as a
result of a number of ailments or aspects of living that debilitate our system.
viral illness; i.e. glandular fever, chronic sinusitis etc.
extreme and/or chronic stress - be it emotional (divorce, death in the family,
bankruptcy, VCE etc),or physical (i.e. as is often seen in athletes who over
a result of long term elevated and/or fluctuating blood sugar levels - leading
to hypoglycaemia or insulin resistance.
stimulation of the nervous system via stress (as above), and excessive amounts
of stimulants (coffee, energy drinks, sugar, alcohol, smoking, drugs etc.).
problems - IBS, dysbiosis etc.
inactivity or lack of exercise.
deficiencies; i.e. anaemia.
In general, it could be argued that
all of the above occur as a result of living in a fashion that is out of
alignment with how our bodies have been built or genetically programmed (via
evolutionary environmental influences) to function optimally or thrive.
These aspects of living include how we eat and drink, how we move (or not!!),
how we breathe, how we think and how we rest and rejuvenate.
Q: Why do people feel tired?
As above. However at a cellular
level it is because their cells no longer produce energy efficiently due to:
- Nervous system and adrenal exhaustion
- via over stimulation.
- Poor fuel and vitamin/mineral
- Excessive free radical damage to
cell membranes due to an excess of toxins and insufficient antioxidants.
- Immune dysfunction and poor
absorption of nutrients due to disturbance in gastro-intestinal flora and
mucous membrane linings - known as dysbiosis.
- Inefficient metabolism and
elimination of wastes and toxins via liver and kidneys.
- Poor supply of oxygen to the cells
due to inefficient breathing - too rapid and too much volume of air due to
mouth breathing as opposed to breathing through the nose and being driven by
Q: The top 7 things you can do to prevent fatigue?
- Eliminate or dramatically reduce dietary intake of the following: sugars - including
- sugar, sweets,
chocolates, added sugars, refined carbohydrates (white flour/rice in bread,
pasta, cakes, biscuits, cereals, muesli bars etc.), alcohol.
- Processed foods - foods containing
chemicals or that have been refined in any way.
- Stimulants - coffee, energy drinks,
cigarettes, alcohol, drugs.
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks
daily and include protein in each meal and snack (especially breakfast).
Breathe through the nose at all times, using the
diaphragm (even during exercise) rather than using the mouth, chest and shoulders.
Cleanse you gut and liver via detoxification processes.
Learn to relax and balance your nervous system via
meditation and yoga.
Use a herbal adaptogen such a Siberian Red (www.pineneedleproducts.com or www.siberianred.com) to assist in undoing the damage caused by over
stimulation of the nervous system and the resulting adrenal fatigue.