How to use those little surfing waves to increase your paddling speed!



ÒI wishÓ, I hear you say.  Well I recently had occasion to do some calculations of my own.  In trying to calculate the strength of the tidal currents in the Birdaking section of the Coorong (Barrages area) it became evident that during a 6km passage back to camp we had been paddling at about 7 km/hr.  As my usual sedate pace is 6 km/hr I became interested.  Sea kayakers will be familiar with the ÔtrickÕ of catching waves coming from behind, holding position on the face of the wave by paddling hard and reaching surfing velocity until the crest of the wave eventually passes beneath the kayak, when you stop pumping and wait for the next useable wave to lift the stern of your boat to repeat the process.  WouldnÕt it be good after a Tsunami when the waves travel at hundreds of km/hr!!  Perhaps fortunately Tsunami waves are much too small to be useful (or even noticeable) until they hit shallow water, when I donÕt want to be anywhere near them!  But how fast do normal waves travel?  A book on the principles of physical geology provided formulae for calculating this and I found that the waves pushing us along the Coorong were, according to the formula, traveling at about 16 km/hr.  You donÕt need to catch too many of these waves to push up your average paddling speed!  I reckoned I needed to catch about 18 waves to lift my paddling speed from 6 km/hr to7 km/hr over a 6 km journey.  Or to put it another way, one needed to travel only 550 metres at 16 km/hr to produce the 7 km/hr result over 6 km of water. 

Rob Tanner 8339-2835