What You Should Know About Time Trials on an OC1
What’s With the OC1 Time Trials for Dragon Boat Crews?
So much time and energy goes into debating the question: “How will we select the best paddlers for the race crew?” I can assure you, your coaches and/or captains lose sleep on this question and realize that you are also losing sleep over this question! That’s partly why there is so much variation in how crews conduct their selection exercises.
Some crews run trials where a pair of paddlers must move the whole dragon boat together over a distance; some crews introduce the variation where one member of the pair trials “out” from the dock, and the other trials “back” to the dock; some crews do boat pulls of singles, pairs, or quads, one boat against another, over a distance; some crews do OC-2 time trials with the same person steering from either the front or the back of the OC and a paddler paddling the set distance; other crews do OC1 time trials. There are probably multiple variations not mentioned here, but the goal is effectively the same: to determine how quickly one person (or one partner pair) can move a boat.
The goal of a single-paddler outrigger canoe (OC1) time trial is NOT:
1) to determine your ability as an OC paddler (though time on an OC helps);
2) to embarrass you for having to do something alone in front of all other paddlers (your coach is trying to name you onto the crew, why be unnerved to show your individual talents?);
3) to trick you into huliing (flipping the boat) and hurting yourself;
4) to convince you that you need to do another sport;
5) to persuade you to buy an OC
There is one goal of an OC1 time trial: to measure you, by yourself, against others by assessing your performance over the same distance under similar conditions. An OC1 time trial removes many of the variables that would be introduced with the other methods listed above, allowing your ability to shine through.
“How will we select the best paddlers for the race crew?” I can assure you, your coaches and/or captains lose sleep on this question! Tweet it!
It is not uncommon for paddlers to be upset at the idea of having to trial, particularly on a craft they aren’t familiar with. Thus, for paddlers on a crew where an OC1 time trial is a known component of crew selection, it can be helpful to get some time on the trial boat or at least one like it.
A common complaint about the OC1 trial is that “an OC1 is nothing like a dragon boat!” While this is true, no better single-person analog is readily available. While a paddle-erg trial is a fine choice as well, common complaints against the paddle-erg are: 1) it can be “gamed,” 2) the catch is totally different, 3) it’s not on the water/in the boat so it’s not a good analog, 4) the paddle/seat/catch/return are all different from a dragon boat. The list against the paddle erg is probably as long as that against the OC1 trial. Given two highly imperfect options, an OC1 trial has many positive aspects:
- Since the trial takes place on water, it tests the paddlers’ ability to move the boat through the water
- The trial is single, so it tests that particular paddlers’ singular ability
- The OC1 is affected by bad form in the stroke (lunging, bobbing, leaning side to side) which become obvious during a time trial
- OC1 trials may take a while, but they are still relatively quick
What About the Righties?
A frequent question that comes up is, “Since the ama is rigged left, how is this fair to right-sided paddlers?” Although it is intuitively obvious that the OC1 is more likely to huli (flip) when someone leans to the right, a stable paddler paddling on the right has an advantage over the same stable paddler paddling on the left. That advantage arises because the ama becomes lighter, introducing less drag, when paddled on the right. So, while right-sided paddlers may feel a bit more tentative, if they can maintain a stable body position (which comes with time on the boat), they have the advantage over their benchmates on the left when doing an OC1 trial.
However, there are two important points to keep in mind here. Firstly, coaches are comparing rights to rights and lefts to lefts, so it doesn’t matter how a left-sided paddler does in a time trial if you are a right-sided paddler. You are only competing for a seat with other right-sided paddlers. And secondly, right-rigged OCs exist and many teams use them for time trials, so in many cases a right-sided paddler need not worry about balancing on a left-rigged OC.
Get on the OC
If you are planning on trying out for your country’s national team, it is highly likely that you’ll have to trial on an OC1 at some point, so the more comfortable you can get on one, the better. Having to steer and paddle at the same time can prove daunting for beginners on the OC, so getting some experience in that area will help immensely.
How Do You Get More Time on an OC?
Ideally, your team will have an OC1 for you to borrow. But realistically, most teams, especially newer ones, may not have the available funds to purchase an OC, nor the available space to house one. So, what can you do?
If you are interested in purchasing one, I suggest that you check online sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji (or any other online classified ads). For Craigslist (and some other sites) you can set up alerts to let you know as soon as one gets posted. At the end of this post, you will find directions for setting up an alert. It’s relatively easy.
Until someone comes up with a better testing method, OC1 time trials are likely to be the primary method of team testing, so you might as well embrace it! Spend as much time as you can on an OC1. Go exploring, get comfortable on it, test your balance, even let yourself huli so you know where the fine line of balance is. The more time you spend on an OC1, the better paddler you will be. You can really learn your individual contribution to the boat because you are the only one paddling. In time, you will likely develop an improved connection with the water which will then carry over to the dragon boat. And when has more time on the water ever been a bad thing?
How to Set Up an Alert for Items Posted on Craigslist:
- Make an account on IFTTT.
- Create a recipe by clicking “my recipes” then “create a recipe.”
- Click on the word “this” in the words “if this then that.”
- Choose a trigger channel by scrolling down and clicking on Craigslist.
- Click “new post from search.”
- Go to your city’s Craigslist in a separate tab, and do the search for what you want. (Example: click on “sporting” and then search “outrigger canoe”)
- Copy + paste the URL from your Craigslist search back into IFTTT and click “create trigger.” (Note: use the URL from the search, NOT the URL from an individual posting)
- Click on the word “that” in the words “if this then that.”
- Choose an action channel. I suggest SMS, which sends you a text (so you can jump on those deals quickly!). Email or even calls could be good options for this, too.
- Click on “Send me an SMS.”
- Click on “Create Action” (leave the message box as is; that will send you the title of the post and the URL in the text).
- Name your recipe (e.g. OC1)
- Click “Create Recipe.”
Or, if you prefer, there is an app through a different source that will help you with that.
Contributing author: Sara Jordan, Team USA Premier paddler, and paddler of pretty much anything that floats.