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In light of the annual Cheat race last weekend, and with strong urging from Anna, I thought I would share a few of my racing tips with you. New River Academy did well at this years Cheat race. Coach Seth Dow took first in the Men’s Shortboat category- but only because I was right behind him to claim the second place title. Kira Tenney placed second for the Women’s short boat, and other New River Academy students had a blast, made some key hand of god rescues, and enjoyed the 11 mile run.
You might think that New River Academy crushed it due to our excessive race training. You would be wrong. I am about to tell you why, and let you know what you really need to do well in creek boat racing.

The first thing that everyone needs to understand about racing is everyone moves at about the same speed. It doesn’t always have to come down to who has the biggest arms or who has better endurance. Creek races are made by the lines taken, by how you harness your energy, and when you use it. It really doesn’t matter how big your arms are, if you can’t read water then you’re going to lose anyways. Racing is all about reading the water.
Another very important tip is (shh…) In a race, don’t go for the wave trains. If you hug eddy lines and cut corners you can cut off tuns of time.( ///// ) this is a wave train( ___________)this is an eddy line. By hugging the eddyline, you cut out the up and down distance, making your paddling more efficient.
The next very important tip is to rest in rapids and paddle hard through the flat water. This is because in the rapids, the water is doing the work for you- you won’t be able to accelerate faster than the water most of the time. Therefore, use this time to conserve your energy, so that you can sprint where it matters most. On the flats, there is nothing to help you except for your own speed and power. This is where you unleash the beast… so to speak.
The last tip I’m going to give away is…don’t tangle up with others. If you get caught up on another racer let him go in front, ride his wake and rest. Then in the next rapid pass him with hard powerful strokes. Watch out for stern ends of the boats in front of you- try not to take one to the eye, as Alex Muck learned the hard way at this past Cheat race.
I hope this is helpful to all the boaters out there looking for how to improve their racing times. Remember, you want to finish a race feeling as though you couldn’t possibly have taken one more stroke. Conserve a little bit of energy to make a strong finish- and always have fun.