An Hour Record
The One Hour Record
Quite a few people have been posting 1 hour record times on the Performance Sea Kayak website over the past few weeks. As well as times for specific kayaking challenges that include:
- circumnavigations of islands such as the Isle of Man,
- crossings such as the North Sea and
- multi-day exploits such as the circumnavigation of the UK mainland,
there are also some more achievable challenges too. I’m not up to any of the above challenges but I have done the Llyn Padarn TT a few times and wouldn’t mind giving a few of the others a go at some point too.
There are also distance challenges to see how far you can paddle in 1 hour, 3 hours and 5 hours. Planning and timing are important for these. As is the actual physical aspect of paddling fast for the given length of time.
An Hour Record Attempt
I already had a listing on the 1 hour record table which was for a distance of 11.16km. The lack of races and events during the Covid-19 pandemic meant that some sort of a challenge was needed. My previous time had been from a steady paddle. I hadn’t been going for the hour record distance. It just so happened that I saw someone else post a time just after I’d finished. I thought I’d compare and see how I did. It wasn’t the best of distances but it wasn’t too shabby so I submitted it anyway. I did of course vow to improve upon it now that I had something to aim for.
Time for a Proper Hour Record Attempt
I thought I’d give my hour record another go today. There was a decent tide running although not massive. I would also have a gentle breeze behind me whilst paddling up the estuary with the tide. With light rain and cool temperatures it was worth a go.
I set off from home at a decent pace and just kept going for an hour. I wasn’t going flat out as I had to get back home afterwards. Once I’d completed an hour and turned around I would have a long hard slog into both the tide and wind. So I needed to keep plenty in reserve for that.
Towards the Estuary
The first part of the paddle was along the beach heading north into the estuary. There was a 2 foot swell and some wind blown chop so it was a little testing. I was however going well and making good time. As usual my watch was set to beep at me every ¼ mile. The first two were just over the 2 minute mark. That’s not bad for me. I then turned right and started to head towards Aberdyfi. This is where I hoped the pace would increase. I now occasionally had some swell to help me along. The wind was behind me (almost) and I was in the channel where I would have the most benefit from the tide.
High tide today was 4.8m at around 10:20am. It was now about 8am so the flow was slowing from it’s peak but should still be quite fast. I couldn’t have left much earlier as there wouldn’t have been enough water over some of the sandbanks in the estuary. I was hoping I had timed it right to have enough water to navigate the channels for a whole hour but maximise the assistance from the tidal flow.
Up the Dyfi
Things seemed to be going well, once heading into the estuary the ¼ mile times were down below 2 minutes. As I entered the estuary properly they were down closer to and sometimes below 1:40. They stayed that way for the first stretch through the main channel. My splits slowed a little at one point as I passed over the top of a sandbank and so entered shallow water. I should really have gone wide around the sandbank and stayed with the main flow but I didn’t and I paid the price with a 1:59 ¼ mile. That’s still pretty good as holding sub 2 minute splits would still get me close to 8 miles in an hour which would beat my previous distance.
Once I was off the sandbank and back into the channel my splits were back into the 1:40’s and I was making good progress up the estuary. According to my heart rate which barely got above 130pm I wasn’t working too hard either. I did slow down a little as I turned right once more past Ynyshir and in towards Glandyfi. I was heading into the wind here, there wasn’t much help from the tide and there were quite a few shallow banks too. Eventually, as I glided under the Dyfi Junction railway bridge the hour was up. Looking at my watch I reckon it was around 8.2 miles (13.2 km) but we’ll have to see what the official time is once it has been processed. The GPX file has been sent to Performance Sea Kayak for ratifying. Here are the ¼ mile splits for that part of the paddle.
That won’t put me anywhere near the top of the 1 hour distance table but hopefully it’ll squeeze me into the Top 10 for now.
The Long Hard Slog Back
I continued upriver for a little while until I found a suitable pace to stop. It was raining, grey and fairly miserable and I was actually quite chilly. Thankfully I had packed a cagoule and a flapjack or two so I stopped on the river bank and put them to good use.
Had it been a glorious sunny day I think I would have taken a proper packed breakfast. I could then have sat in the sunshine for an hour or so eating and chilling while the tide filled the river and eventually turned. That was never really on the cards today though so instead I was soon back in my boat ready for what would be a slow and probably quite tough paddle back. I took it easy and my heart rate and pace dropped in response. My ¼ mile splits were now taking twice as long as they had on the way upriver at over 3 minutes. My heart rate was only in the 80’s-90’s though so it was all pretty easy going. I stopped once more at Picnic Island to stretch out my back and eat another flapjack.
All that was left now was the paddle back out of the estuary and onto the sea. The wind had filled in quite a bit by now though and I would hear the surf roaring over the bar from Aberdyfi. Things could be fun out there! Sure enough, there was quite a swell and chop coming at me from all angles over the bar. I stuck to the channels as much as I could but still had a bumpy ride as waves and chop splashed over me and the wind blew into my face. Next was a similarly bumpy ride with a side-swell back to where I started, followed by a nice ride to the beach on the increasing waves.
I was back having paddled a total of 17.73 miles. Not a bad morning all in all.