Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ventilation/Air Subduction & other reasons why paddles don't work as well as they should

One of my readers recently informed me that what I called air subduction already has a name in the field of boating, namely, ventilation.  OK, there we go, the internet once again comes to the rescue and dissipates darkness by spreading light, at least in the linguistic domain.
The original post, the one just before this was all about ventilation diminishing the efficiency of paddles.  Ventilation, the sucking of air down the back side of a paddle blade is a problem but can be fixed by appropriate modification of one's paddling technique.
But the problem, fundamentally of getting the best bang for one's paddling buck is that there are too many variables to the deployment of a paddle by a human and inadequate means for measuring input energy vs. forward propulsion, the two key numbers one needs to measure efficiency.
I thought the problem was more or less insoluble.  But perhaps it isn't.  Quite coincidentally while launching my kayak to do some paddle testing, I fell into conversation with a painter who has been commissioned to do paintings of some of the America's Cup boats. He told me that the boats have a person on board whose title is tactician and he advises the helmsman, the person who actually controls the boat.  The tactician sits at a computer which gets constant inputs from a variety of sensors and then suggests ways to wring additional performance out of the boat.
That's all I know, but I suppose that as software and sensors get more sophisticated, some of that learning paid for by sailing syndicates might also be used to increase the efficiency of lowly kayak paddlers.  I haven't done any serious research on the topic, but who knows, paddle design might be advanced from art to science, assuming of course that someone cares enough to spend the money to do the research.

1 comment:

yancy said...

I try to be green, but find out that in my ignorance, I’ve made silly choices instead.
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