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terminology

Terminology

Barnacles

term used in Bellingham, WA. for the local older paddlers (60+, increasingly 70+) who are still tenacious racers and downwind enthusiasts. Also sometimes referred to as “ancient murrelets”1) 2) 3)

Photo: Reivers Dustin - Click to enlarge

the_dudes_.jpg

Bob McBeath and Duncan Howat Smoking the Youngsters in the S2S Canoe Leg

Boat Classifications

  • Canoe 4) - paddler sits or kneels and uses a single bladed paddle, Kayak - paddler sits and uses a double bladed paddle
    • Canoes typically do not have hard decks (except slalom canoes, OCs) and cockpits (except slalom canoes). Surfskis belong to the style of “sit-on-top” kayaks that do not have a cockpit but instead have an recessed seating area sealed off from the hull. Sit-on-top kayaks typically are easier to remount than kayaks with cockpits and their sealed hulls should not take on internal water in upsets and rough water. One might call a modern sealed hull outrigger canoe a “sit-on-top canoe”, though we are not aware of any example usage.
  • Ocean ski, Spec ski - the modern surfski, “ocean ski”, evolved for open ocean wave surfing and downwinding from a version, “spec ski”, that was designed (and is still used) for breaking through shore break and for life saving.
  • SS - surfski, OC - outrigger canoe
  • Multiples
    • SS1, SS2 - single, double surfskis
    • OC1 - single paddler outrigger canoe, OC2, OC3, OC4, OC6 likewise indicating number of seats built in these canoes for paddlers
    • V1, V2, etc. - “Va'a” Tahitian style outrigger canoes, rudderless
    • C1, C2, C4, etc. - single, double, 4 person canoes - can be Olympic style sprint canoes (paddled kneeling on one knee) or other canoe types such as marathon racing canoes. Native North American racing canoes run from C1 to C15 (aka WC or “War Canoe”).
    • K1, K2, K4, etc. - single, double, 4 person kayaks - can be sprint, marathon, or slalom kayak types
  • Dragon Boat - 8 to 20 person canoe with two columns of paddlers sitting side by side. Each paddler only paddles on one side, in contrast to almost all other canoes where you regularly swap sides with your paddle. Olympic sprint canoers also paddle on just one side
  • HPK - high performance kayak eg surfski, SK - sea kayak, FSK - fast sea kayak etc. these are designations that were developed to provide some uniformity of boat speed classification for racing - based on width and length of boats. There are some beginner surfskis whose dimensions qualify them as FSKs in races using these ratings. SoundRowers.org Classification Reference

Boat Orientation and Dimensions

This is a subset of common boat terms that may be more likely to be heard in reference to surfskis (particularly from paddlers with experience with other types of boats)

  • bow - front end, stern - rear end
  • port - left, starboard - right
  • aft - the area towards the stern of the boat.
  • fore, forward - the area towards the bow.
  • heel - lateral or transverse tilt
  • transverse - at right angles to the boat's fore to aft center line
  • waterline - the intersection of a boat's hull and the water's surface, or where the boat sits in the water.
  • keel - the lowest point of the boat's hull, the keel typically provides stability and prevents sideways drift of the boat in the water; most surfskis are rounded transversely, so they really do not have a defined keel on the bottom in which case the term simply refers to the bottom centerline running fore to aft.
  • beam - the width of the boat, measured at its widest point; generally, the larger the beam, the more stable the boat.
  • draft - the distance between the waterline and the keel (bottom centerline) of a boat or lowest fixed piece of running gear which in the case of surfskis and OCs can be the bottom of a long surfing rudder. Thus draft is the minimum depth of water necessary to allow a boat to float freely.

Brace

using one of your paddle blades in a “fixed” position to press against the water for stability and support

  • Low Brace - putting the non-power side of one blade more or less flat on the water surface to your side or somewhat behind you. Your wing paddle5) will generally be as close to horizontal as practical given that it has to angle over your boat. Both hands are kept low vertically. Sometimes people rest the paddle on their legs or lap. (one of Oscar Chalupsky's energy saving tips) . You can also lean to the brace side if you need to apply more weight on the brace, but the point is to keep your boat upright - generally you do not lean and you just apply light weight for support while minimizing drag and speed loss. This is the kind of brace used by surfskiers (OC's also use a low brace with their single blade paddles). You need to practice and get completely comfortable with both sides (if you feather6) your blade angles, bracing on one side will likely seem more awkward at first). This brace is also often used for support on the side you are turning toward. With more pressure it can act more like a rudder assisting sidewise turning but also reducing speed more.
  • High Brace - recovery support and sharp turn stroke (high brace turn) on one side with higher (vertically) hand positions using the power side of blade. Commonly used by sea and white water kayakers - proper technique is critical (take care about not letting your hands get too high or too far away from your body) because it can put significant stress on your shoulders.

Broach

when a sailboat turns sharply back into the wind because the rudder cannot compensate for the forces bearing on the boat's direction it is “broaching”. The same term is used in downwind paddling, when your boat turns sideways (usually at speed, on a wave) though you are trying to steer it forward with the wave. More speed, turning too far, and less rudder surface area in the water (using a smaller rudder and/or because your rudder is lifting above the water) all contribute to a greater tendency to broach. Broaching in surfskis is also common when paddling at a low speed and being overtaken by a steep or breaking wave (such as slowing down too much in a surf landing zone).

Downwind

If you are paddling to catch (surf on) wind driven waves (or a combination of swell and wind waves), you are downwinding 7) , or going on a downwinder. “Downwinding” can be done in the form of repeated laps or paddling solely in one direction, but saying you are going on a “downwinder” typically implies going in one primary direction from point A to point B downwind the whole way, having setup a shuttle for pickup at the end point and retrieval of vehicles from the start point. The exhilaration of downwind paddling drives the growing popularity of surfskis more than any other single factor.

  • Terms for downwind conditions: 8) 9)
    • = BIG
      • Awesome, Nuclear, Epic, Puckery, Survival, Rock-a-Hula, Gorgelike (these terms usually just imply bigness while others like Ticklish and Manky also imply some size plus turbulence - also “Fiddly” whether just big or big and turbulent seems to imply nervousness inducing)
    • = NOT SO GREAT
      • Lumpy, Micro Bumps
    • = NOTHING
      • Duck Farts, Flat (- as someone's beer? - as LG's roof? …), Pondwater
    • Applied Across the Range of Size Levels
      • Technical (waves from multiple directions), Chunky Munky - choppy, difficult, maybe also “technical”

Drafting/Bow Wake Riding

Paddling either directly close behind another water craft (drafting) or alongside and trailing about 2/3 of the lead boat's bow (riding the lead boat's bow wake) reduces the effort required to maintain the same speed as paddling without any draft would require. The directly behind draft effect (water slipstream) for boats is strongest when closest. But care has to be taken to avoid annoying the lead paddler(s) or damaging your and their boats by bumping into them when too close. Drafting is not practical when downwinding, but serious racers will try to use it to get any ounce of assistance possible in other situations though drafting in choppy water requires a fair amount of skill both to stay close enough to get benefit and to be efficient enough to avoid using more energy than paddling solo would consume. See also WRS

Feather

“feather” of your kayak paddle refers to the angle your blades are offset from one another. Feathering your blades may be helpful in paddling upwind - reducing the wind effect on the recovery side blade. When one blade is in the water, the one in the air (if feathered) slices through the wind rather than catching or having to push against it. Oscar Chalupsky (somewhat controversially) in recent years has recommended surfskiers adopt zero feather to simplify bracing and because feathering is not needed when paddling downwind. As of 2020 this recommendation has not been widely adopted.10)

Fetch

also known as wind fetch or fetch length is the length of water over which a given wind has blown without obstruction. A longer fetch along with stronger winds contributes to larger wave size. Some refer to “fetch width” which can contribute to waves coming from more directions although a number of geographical and weather factors can also contribute to multiple wave directions without necessarily having a large fetch width.

Grand Ducky of Fenwick (more commonly know as the Duchy of Grand Fenwick)

Reivers Dustin's adopted homeland. He uses his dual citizenship to compete for the Ducky11) in the Think International Challenge race series.

Lipp

A unit of measurement (aka “Lipp Unit”) used for downwinding in which 1 Lipp = a 30 second ride/run/wave surf without paddling. One Lipp is considered outstanding and even 1/2 a Lipp is pretty good. 2 Lipps = 1 PHAT Lipp , the holy grail of downwind paddling..12) 13)

Outrigger Terms

  • ama - Polynesian term for an outrigger float. Used for the ones on the side of an OC and a Va'a and also commonly used when referring to the outside floats on catamarans and trimarans. Amas are usually mounted on the left but can be mounted on the right (which surfing OCs do in Hawaii to catch “rights” while avoiding digging in with their amas and flipping)
  • iako - Hawaiian term for a pole (2 per canoe) that connects an ama to an outrigger canoe (Polynesian term is “aka”)
  • huli - term commonly used by OCers to mean tipping one's boat (usually flipping) and falling in the water which can be a little more dramatic in an OC given the two boat parts. In rough water OCers sometimes manage to huli boat over ama to their left. Huli is becoming more common in usage with other types of boats to also refer to falling in the water.

Photo: Paul Reavley - Click to enlarge

OC in middle of a huli


Put-in, Take-out

  • Put-in where you put your boat in the water to launch
  • Take out - where you take your boat out of the water to end your paddle trip.

Rhumb Line

The path between two points on a surface that allows a constant bearing. On a curved surface like the earth it is not the shortest path, but it allows the simplest navigation. On a two dimensional surface it is also the shortest path. Wikipedia: “Over the Earth's surface at low latitudes or over short distances it can be used for plotting the course of a vehicle, aircraft or ship.[1] Over longer distances and/or at higher latitudes the great circle route is significantly shorter than the rhumb line between the same two points. ”

Rips and Races

The following are the traditional definitions of such currents. It is not uncommon, however, to see “rip current” used to refer to an actual tidal race.

  • Rip Currents (aka Rip, aka Rip Tide - hence the common confusion between “rip tide” and “tide rip” - a misnomer because these currents are not caused by the tide) are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are common along ocean coasts as well as along the shores of some large lakes such as the US Great Lakes. Typically these currents flow outward perpendicularly away from shore. If caught in a rip current, don't fight it! Swim or paddle parallel to the shore to get out of the rip before heading more directly back toward shore.
  • Tidal Race (aka Tide Rip) is a specific type of current associated with the swift movement of tidal water (either ebbing or rising) through inlets and the mouths of estuaries, bays, and harbors. These tidal currents are stronger and faster where constriction or narrowing of a channel occurs. Depending on circumstance such tidal currents can be a nuisance or a danger or they can be the source of excellent waves to surf.14)

Spondooley

another word for “money” according to Reivers Dustin's Uncle Claude.15) Uncle Claude was right. Spondooley or spondoolie is a modern variation of 19th century slang “spondulix” meaning money or cash.

Tidal Bore

A tidal bore, or simply “bore”, happens when the leading edge of an incoming tide forms a wave (or series of waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current. Well known tidal bores around the world.

TOW

“Time on Water”

Uitwaaien

“of good health” - the Dutch cure for the winter blues

The Dutch practice of jogging or walking into the wind, especially in the winter, for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one's general health. Downwinding might be considered another form of “uitwaaien” particularly in colder climes like Bellingham.

Wallowing

repeatedly missing waves and sliding back down their backsides is called “wallowing”

Wallowing may be due to any or all of these:

  • waves that are just going too fast - e.g. trying to catch swell when you should be catching slower moving wind waves first to get your speed up
  • fatigue - take a break
  • bad timing - usually accelerating too late If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.” Jack Sparrow - Pirates of the Caribbean

Waves

Swell and Wind Waves

are both primarily generated by wind or wind events like storms.

Wind waves refers to waves that are being generated by the wind in the same area as the waves. TCSurfski Description of Wind Waves

Swell refers to waves that have moved beyond the area of wind that generated them, sometimes traveling great distances and not “affected” by the local wind (the swell retains its size and speed - although it can be masked or made less visually obvious by large local wind waves). Swell waves tend to be longer and faster than local wind waves. “Groundswell”or “ground swell” refers to swell that has traveled 1000's of miles and is often identified by a period (time between waves) of more than 15 seconds.

Larger Waves (including “Freak Waves”) - wave size increase happens when:

  • Wind puts pressure against strong ocean current
  • Ocean depth change is dramatic
  • Two close storms cause overlapping waves

Breaking Waves

when waves roll over shallower areas such as shorelines (Shore Break) the deeper part of the wave slows due to friction from the underlying shallows while the tops of waves keep their speed and eventually topple over (break). This process can occur anywhere (not just close to shore) there are shallows due to features such as underwater reefs, shallow bottom shelves, and sand bars. Very shallow water will cause all waves to break which is usually easy to notice, while deeper shallows will cause only bigger waves (Boomers) to break sometimes with periods of 30 minutes or more between breaking waves. Such breaking waves can be surprising (particularly for paddlers unfamiliar with the underlying shallows) and have to be watched out for carefully by folks in smaller vessels. Nautical charts are available online (view or download) for coastal waters around the world to allow anticipation of shallows and potential boomers, although online viewers may not have sufficient resolution to show all smaller shallow areas. Water depth and resultant occurence of breaking waves can also vary with the tide.

Rebound (aka Reflection)

flat shorelines usually absorb most wave energy while steep shorelines can cause waves to bounce off and rebound back out into deeper water causing turbulence and waves working at odd angles to the prevailing wave patterns. This can create more challenging paddling. It also can contradict the usual wisdom of staying closer to shore for safety or easier paddling when rebound makes for more difficult paddling conditions closer to shore. Transient rebound can quickly cause more turbulence when larger waves from passing boats or ships bounce off of the shore.

Boat Wakes

More On Waves


Wind Directions

the most commonly used terminology refers to the direction wind is coming from:

  • “south wind” - wind from the south, “east wind” - wind from the east, etc.
  • Sometimes people may say a “southerly” or “northerly” wind. If used correctly these terms also refer to the direction these winds are coming from even though as adjectives they may sound somewhat opposite. A southerly is coming from the south, a westerly comes from the west, etc.

WRS

“Wash Riding Scum” - derogatory racing term for paddlers who draft and either never take turns pulling from the front, or draft continually until race end then sprint to beat the boat(s) that carried them on their backs for the entire race. Attitudes about wash riding without turns in the lead can vary depending on local race tradition and the experience of the paddlers involved. Drafting is usually considered just fine and a part of racing skill in most locales (though there are exceptions). And those who are learning or trying to improve by keeping in a slipstream that they can barely hang on to will typically be cut some slack (good racers generally have methods for dropping weak drafters if they wish). Others who hang back solely to try to sprint to wins are sometimes not considered so favorably - hence “WRS”. When dealing with this tactic, many consider such WRSers fair game for tactics such as scraping off at turns and obstacles.

Yew

From urbandictionary.com: “A word used to show excitement, originally by surfers but now used by non-surfers….”

1)
Howat, D. Phd Emeritus 2015, “ Ancient Murrelets
2)
Howat, D. Phd Emeritus 2021 Barnacles
3)
See Aging
4)
* Outside of the USA (particularly in the UK) “canoe” can also be a more generic term that refers to canoes and kayaks
7)
More about downwinding
9)
Usage varies - there is really no consensus - always good fodder for argument
12)
Lipp, Alan, Bellingham, WA., Final arbiter of Lipp qualifications ( JR's orginal suggestion )
14)
See Ambleside or Deception Pass - typically the waves stack up more with wind going against the current. Also they often tend to be technical with rapidly varying wave forms and directions so these sites when working can provide particularly demanding workouts for strength and skill.
terminology.txt · Last modified: 2021/06/14 16:19 by preavley