WWR manual chapter 4

4.1 Boats

4.1.1    Regulations

There are regulations concerning maximum length, minimum width and minimum weight of boats. There are also regulations concerning the amount of buoyancy (air bags) fitted into a boat. Check the BCU Wild Water Racing Rules and ICF Rules to confirm the regulations in force.

4.1.2    Hull Shapes

Modern racing boat hull shapes are all very similar now. However there are subtle differences which affect the handling of a boat.

Most modern boats have an elongated teardrop shape at the waterline (think of the shape of a tadpole). The hull then expands rapidly upwards and outwards above the waterline. This introduces volume when a boat starts to pitch and thereby keep the boat flatter (and moving faster).

The main differences concern the amount of rocker in the boat. Rocker is the curve of the hull from bow to stern. It is most easily seen by placing the hull on flat ground and seeing the rise of the bow and stern from the ground. Generally the greater the rocker the easier the boat is to turn, though it can become ‘skiddy’. The less the rocker the more the boat will hold its line and track. There can be different amounts of rocker at the front and back of a boat.

Modern flatwater racing boats have a surprisingly large amount of rocker. This is so the boat generates lift and, in fact, rises out of the water, thereby reducing the wetted area of the boat and hence the resistance of the boat. It’s uncertain whether WWR boats are moving fast enough for this principle so it’s probably simpler to consider rocker just from the handling point of view discussed above.

 

4.1.3    Fitting Out

Attention to boat fittings is not just for the elite athlete, the beginning racer will benefit from the control and power. Being in an ill fitted boat is similar to trying to drive a car fast down the motorway with a loose steering wheel - you have to make large correction movements before something happens.

4.1.3.1    Importance of fittings

Boat fittings are designed to address two key requirements:
Applying power to the stroke, allowing a dynamic and free paddling position
Maintaining control of the boat, over leans and pitch etc.

At the extremes these two requirements are contrary, a very free paddling position will offer little control and a very tight fitted boat with great control will offer little in the way of dynamic paddling support.

Although there are some key principles of boat fitting, each person is individual and will develop personal preferences over time.


4.1.3.2    Kayak fittings

The key to optimal boat fitting is to reach a compromise where the athlete can drive dynamically with the legs, gain a full rotation of the pelvis to initiate the paddle stroke and yet still offer control over the lean of the boat. In white water, there are very few 'pure' paddle strokes where the application of power has no steering component. Thus the athlete needs to make sure that they can control leans and still drive powerfully with the legs.
 

The key principle is the fittings should be set up so that there is always three points of contact at any point in the paddle stroke, this allows the paddler to maintain control over the direction and lean of the boat even if a dynamic leg drive is being used.

1. Footrest - must be solid bar or plate across the whole width of the boat. The feet are used to assist in steering, and so need to be able to reach to the side of the boat, but should be kept in the middle of the boat for normal paddling. When the feet are at the edge of the boat this locks out the hips and makes rotation more difficult, and also introduces a torque to the paddle stroke which causes 'boat waggle'. The footrest should be set up close enough to keep the athlete in the seat, and allow a strong leg extension. Typically this is actually feels quite tight, a footrest that is too loose allows the athlete to slide down the seat, inhibiting rotation - or requires the paddler to brace too much to get purchase on the thigh braces.

2. Thigh braces - The braces (or bars) should be set up to be in contact with the thigh at the hip, and then follow the angle of the leg when braced. The fittings should allow the knees to be held relatively close into the middle of the boat for normal dynamic paddling, but have the option to move wider if necessary. The key is the height at the hip - it should be tight enough to allow the leg to be relatively relaxed and still maintain control. Be aware that the knee needs to lift up and drive forward in order to allow the pelvis to rotate, and so any fittings need to permit this.

3. Seat - Ensure that the seat is fitted close to, or on, the bottom of the boat, and is blocked out to the sides and front/back. A high seat will be more unstable than a low seat. Seat design is a personal preference and can make the difference between a fun paddle and a raw back. Once you have found a seat design that you like - keep with it. Seats can either be high back or low back (traditional) - traditional seats require the addition of a backstrap to ensure a solid paddling platform. Ensure that this backstrap is snug, and very smooth to reduce chafing. Ensure that the seat allows you to 'spin' within it to allow hip rotation, and that blocks are placed each side above the hips to remove any lateral play. The seat should have a little lean forwards to tilt the pelvis and assist in rotation. The feeling you want to achieve is being able to spin, without moving up out of the seat, or moving from side to side.

When fitting out a boat make sure that you are wearing the same clothing you will be using to paddle in, as the thickness of the material will have an effect on the tightness of the fittings.

If you paddle in a shared club boat, try to ensure that the fittings (footrest, seat, backstrap and thighbraces) achieve a good fit for each athlete.

 

4.1.3.3    Example kayak fittings

Through all of the following you will find reference to measuring and recording.  This is important in ensuring that subsequent boats of the same design will be fitted out identically.
 
 fit1.jpg fit2.jpg
 
The starting point – original fittings in old boat… 
 The target – a new boat of new design….    

If you have the same design of boat for practice and race, ensure that both are set up identically.  This ensures that both boats will perform the same way and transition from practice to race boat is seamless. Typically the seat will make a big difference to the feel of the boat – and so taking a primary seat from one boat to another is a way of reducing the amount of variation in feel between the boats. In these examples the seat is swapped from the old boat to the new – and provides the reference for all the fittings. However a new seat of exactly the same design can also be used (make sure the tilt and fitting of support foam is the same as the old seat).

4.1.3.4    Installing the Seat

When you find a comfortable seat design, stick with it. The seat should allow rotation, but provide a secure paddling platform. Make sure the back is well supported to provide lower back/pelvis support and allow good leg drive.

The seat should be comfortable and snug. Ideally the seat shape will fit the athlete’s bottom shape, but if the bottom is too slack, then foam pads should be added to make it snug all round. A backstrap is important as it provides an extension to the back of the seat that moulds to the back flexibly when the body is moving around. The backstrap anchor points should be far enough forward on the seat to allow the backstrap to hug the back as much as possible. The seat is best mounted on flanges in the side of the boat. Seats attached to the bottom of the boat risk being dislodged when running over rocks. If a seat is floppy and poorly fitted, controlling the boat will be very difficult.

Sit in the boat and adjust the position of the seat for height from the hull and the angle of the fore and aft rake for the most comfortable position and one which will give the correct trim when in the water.

Measure:

 
Height of the nose or point of the seat from the hull  fit3.jpg
 
Height of the back of the seat from the hull
 
Distance of the seat from a reference point,  e.g. the rear of the cockpit or bow of the boat  fit4.jpg
Square angle across boat for seat.  
Write these down somewhere safe. 
A garage wall is ideal
 fit7.jpg



fit5.jpg
These dimensions will ensure that the seat is always in the same location and attitude.
 
 Ensure that the seat is firmly fixed, either epoxied or screwed into place. Fit high density foam to block the seat and stop any flexing of the seat at the rear or the side. Bracing either side of the centre point allows a little flex where the coccyx touches the seat, reducing chafing.

Ensure that the seat is as close to the bottom as possible – a high seat is more unstable than a low seat.

 

 

4.1.3.5    Installing the footrest


The footrest should be a comfortable distance away, which allows for a leg position similar to a flatwater boat but with the knees slightly parted. The footrest should be a bar across the full width of the boat to allow the feet to be central but also to allow the possibility to slide sideways the whole width of the boat. Some athletes prefer a wooden bar footrest to allow the ball of the foot to slide up and down slightly when the heel of the foot is moved in or out slightly.

The form of the footrest is down to personal preference, from wooden bar to carbon tube.  The principle for installation is similar.
fit6.jpg
Sit in the boat and wedge your intended footrest at a position which is comfortable.
Make sure that you wear the type of shoes that you will be using when paddling, different shoes could add more than a centimetre and start to push you to the back of the seat.

 

Measure the distance from the bow to either side of the hull and mark the position on the hull to ensure that the footrest is square on.
By shining a light from the outside of the boat it is possible to accurately position the footrest inside the boat.

fit7.jpg

  Write down the dimension (on the garage wall)


 fit8.jpg
  Measure the height of the footrest from the hull.  A good idea at this point is to make a height template (a piece of wood of the correct length) so that when the footrest is removed form its temporary position relocation for height is simple.


fit9.jpg When using tube for a footrest, aluminium or carbon paddle loom, cut this a little short (2 mm either side) and stuff in firm ether-foam. before wedging it back in place.  This will allow some flexing of the hull if you hit something side-on and minimise the chance of punching a hole in the side.  Also, if you should need to reposition the footrest, you only hacksaw through the tape and foam and not the tube as well.

 
fit10.jpg
 Clean the area to be fixed and if necessary abrade the tube lightly with 180 SiC.  A mixture of glass and Kevlar tape is probably best for installation, ensuring that there is sufficient to prevent detachment in time of crisis.  Bear in mind that the crucial bit is the first layer.  Several layers will not necessarily improve the strength but will add weight.

Weigh all the resin and materials as they are used.  Record the information. Fittings will normally add approximately 500g over the weight of a boat + seat – if they weigh more, think how could you reduce this weight?

 

 

4.1.3.6    Thigh Braces


fit11.jpg Having fitted seat and footrest in the correct position it is time to turn attention to thigh braces.
Thigh braces are important to give further refined control, including lifting the bow and holding leans. The bars should pass over as much of the thigh (rather than the knee) as possible. They should be positioned so that on flatwater the thigh braces are just brushing the thigh. The athlete can then tighten their legs into the thigh braces by simply sliding their heels back and shortening their leg length, fit12.jpgthereby raising their thighs into the thigh braces. The relationship between footrest position and thigh brace position is therefore important. The thigh braces should be positioned to encourage as narrow a leg position as possible when on easy water but allow for a slightly widened leg position in rough water.


There are various designs and preferences. In all instances make sure that they are strong enough and securely fitted.  Should they fail at a crucial moment it could result in a capsize.



fit13.jpgSit in the boat and fit the thigh braces around you, packing them into position with tape and foam.  To ensure good contact cut the bars to fit the contours of the hull. Mark the position for fixing onto the boat, if possible measure the location and record for reference.fit14.jpg

As with the footrest, epoxy well into position.  Weigh the thigh bars, resin and fabric and record it.


 
You will now have a well-fitted boat, which should be comfortable and an efficient means of energy transfer. (note this example shows an old seat being installed - this normally would be a new seat)

By recording all of the information as you progress, fitting out the next boat (of the same basic design) will rely on a minimal amount of trial and error.  If you find it necessary to change the position of any of the bits, record the information.

If all your boats are fitted identically, the transfer from practice to race boat becomes seamless and paddling will improve in the knowledge that equipment is at its optimum.

Expect to take 1 day to fit out a single new boat, up to 2 days to fit out a new design of boat. Check and re-check the fittings and feel against existing fittings – and only fix in place when you are sure. If you can find an assistant with excellent glassing skills – this also helps!

 

4.1.4    Trimming

A boat should be trimmed to gain maximum performance from the hull shape. The general goal is to have the boat flat trimmed or slightly bow light when moving at race pace. For this to be the case on flowing water, the boat usually has to be set to be a little more bow light when paddling at race pace on flat water.

How bow light to make the boat depends on the hull shape. Having a boat set slightly bow light usually makes for easier steering as the bow does not ‘stick’ in the water. Sometimes the aim of setting a boat bow light is also to set the stern deeper to overcome too much stern skid. If an athlete is trying to overcome this problem, perhaps changing to a hull design that has less stern rocker may be a better solution.

 

4.1.5    Protection

Racing boats are moderately expensive but their life can be extended by using protection when practising.
Guards can be made to fit a boat, usually to the stern and bow. Some boat manufacturers sell ready-made guards for their boats. Guards, particularly on the stern, need to be well attached with tape as it is easy to scrape them off. The negative aspect of guards is that they change the performance and steering characteristic of the boat. This can cause more rock hits due to the lack of control an athlete has. Too often athletes train with guards and remove them for the race only to find the boat handles completely differently.
Other material such as lino can be used as a guard. A heavier tape-like material known as Action Patch affords very good protection, but once applied it may not be possible to remove it, so is only really suitable for boats intended for practice only.
Whilst affording less protection, simply using duck tape (or carpet tape) is a better compromise. It protects from bumps and scrapes, though not from heavy hits. However, when not scraped or torn, it has minimal effect on the performance and handling of the boat.

4.1.6    Repairs

A modern racing kayak or canoe is remarkably resilient to damage, and it’s lifespan will be greatly enhanced by repairing damage as soon as possible. Often at races it is not practical to repair the boat so gaffer or duct tape is used to protect the damage until a sound repair can be undertaken at home.

In all cases it is best to ensure that the boat to be repaired is fully dry, clean and the damaged area has been masked off to ensure there are no unexpected dribbles of resin onto the remainder of the boat.

Minor damage to the boat, cracks in the gelcoat etc can and should be repaired from the outside by applying a little epoxy to the damaged area to allow it to re-wet out. Warm epoxy will flow better than cold to seep into cracks.

Major damage to the stern is the most common in a WWR boat, and will often require a repair from the inside to recreate a good approximation to the original shape.

4.1.7    Bow Repairs

One of the most common repairs that need to be undertaken to a racing kayak or canoe is to repair the bow after a head on collision. Without repair to the bow, over time it will become weakened and ‘fat’. This will often require more radical repair from the inside to strengthen fully.

For minor repairs to the bow, cut all loose material back from the damaged bow. Mask off closely to prevent drips and to allow a fine and accurate finish. Tease apart some Kevlar cloth or tape to create some Kevlar string or rope of approximately the correct length – cut slightly over length to ensure you have something to hold onto. Fully wet out this small rope section – and then carefully apply to the damaged bow section making sure it is well bedded in (use latex gloves to allow you to use your fingers). Roughly shape to the correct curves of the bow and allow to cure.

When the epoxy is cured, remove the masking tape and cut back the excess rope. Allow to fully harden
When fully hardened, roughly cut to shape with a Stanley knife, and then sand back to an accurate shape. Work down through the wet and dry grades (use wet to stop the Kevlar from going ‘furry’) and finally finish with t-cut or similar cutting paste to give a fully polished finish.

You should now have a bow which is shaped pretty closely to the original, and being made of solid Kevlar it will take a few knocks.

 

4.2 Paddles

4.2.1    Regulations

There are no regulations surrounding paddles.

4.2.2    Size and Shape

The advent of winged paddles has created a myriad of shapes and sizes of blade. Generally a number need to be tried by an athlete to determine which they prefer.

A blade is deemed to be ‘big’ if it requires a lot of force to paddle with.

There are a number of variables to be considered when assessing a blade shape.
Area – the area of a blade is the simplest measure of how ‘big’ the blade is
Scoop and top lip – the depth of the scoop and, in particular, the depth of the top lip affect the amount of grip the blade has. A blade with a lot of grip will make it feel ‘big’.
Lay-back – all winged paddles have lay-back. If you look down the line of the shaft you will see that the blade face lays back from the line of the shaft. A blade with less lay-back will give better grip at the catch and start of the stroke. A blade with more lay-back will have a lighter catch (which can reduce pressure on the forearms) but feel more powerful in the middle and end of the stroke. It is generally better to have a strong catch on rivers to assist steering and give a feeling of stability, so a blade with less lay-back is generally favoured.

4.2.3    Shafts

Virtually all modern shafts are made of a composite of glass and carbon, occasionally with the use of Kevlar. The amount of carbon in the shaft is what affects the stiffness of the shaft most, although the amount of resin used in the shaft will also have an effect.

The aim is to have a shaft that is stiff enough to feel responsive but not so stiff that the flex effect of the shaft is lost. Also, it is important to avoid very stiff shafts as they can cause injury, particularly to the shoulder. Generally a shaft with about 20%-30% carbon is favoured.

The standard diameter of a shaft is 30mm measured from the outside edges (outside diameter – Ø). Most shafts have a wall thickness of about 1mm so the internal diameter is usually about 27-28mm.
For athletes with small hands it may be more comfortable to use a narrower diameter shaft. This is possible (usually 28mm Ø) but not as abundantly available mainly because there are not as many blade ends manufactured to be compatible.
Athletes that suffer from forearm trouble could try using a larger diameter shaft. This is non-standard and would usually be done by adding material (such as cork mat) wrapped around the shaft where the hand grips. However, forearm trouble usually indicates poor timing and technique or possibly an injury or condition (such as compartment syndrome).

Winged paddles are much more stable in the water than old-style flat blades, so some athletes don’t find it necessary to use a hand grip under their control hand.
Most athletes do favour them, though, as they help locate the control hand properly and add comfort. It is very important, however, to align the hand grip correctly which can be very difficult with winged paddles.
It is usually best to have a smooth plastic ‘grip’ (known as shrink-wrap) around the shaft under the hands. This will smooth any unevenness in the, often rough, manufactured finish of the shaft.

Often athletes like to experiment with paddle lengths, or use different lengths for training. The best solution for this is to use an adjustable shaft. Usually the length can be altered by about 6cm. The shaft is more expensive but is cheaper than buying 3 or 4 fixed length shafts.
4.2.4    Joining Paddles
Blades can come in two types for joining. Male blades have a stub that inserts inside the shaft. Female blades have a sleeve into which the shaft inserts.
There is no real difference between the methods of joining these two types of joint.

The most important thing is to ensure the blade and shaft fit snugly together. You may need to sand down either of them, but be careful not to sand too much off a shaft that is fitting into a female blade as this could weaken the strength of the shaft at the joint too much. If a joint needs to be packed to ensure a tighter fit, you can either paint resin on beforehand or wrap Kevlar rovings before or during the jointing process.

The angle to set the blades is important. Generally an angle of between 65°-75° is most common. Because winged blades are different shapes it can be difficult to determine a ‘face’ to measure angle from. It is usually best to setup a new paddle angle to be the same as an old paddle which has the angle you would like. It is often best to set up a jig to do this. If it is a brand new paddle shape you are setting up, it is best to use an adjustable shaft first to decide what angle is most comfortable.

The most reliable and permanent join is done using resin. Obviously once a resin joint is made, it is permanent. An alternative joining method which has proved successful is joining using ‘hot glue’ dispensed from a glue gun. Apply the glue to the blade or shaft being inserted, re-apply some heat with a hot air gun to ensure the glue remains soft and then slide the glued end in. Heat can be re-applied to the outside to keep the glue soft while any adjustments are being made. The joint between paddle and shaft must be well taped to prevent water leaking in through the joint. ‘Hot glue’ joints have proved reliable, though care must be taken if a paddle is left in a hot environment, such as a car on a sunny day, to ensure the blade does not come loose or twist.

4.3 Waterproof layers

4.3    Waterproof Layers

The waterproof layers are an integral part of the racing equipment. Keeping water out of the boat is of primary importance. The last thing you want is to take on the extra weight of water and worse still have it washing around the boat.

Special care should be taken of waterproof equipment. Ideally an athlete will have training sets, and a race set (which is taken very special care of). Good lightweight race kit will damage easily, so take care of it and save it for races that matter most.

4.3.1    Regulations

The only regulations are regarding helmet and buoyancy aids. Check the BCU Wild Water Racing Rules and ICF Rules to confirm the regulations in force.

4.3.2    Helmet

A helmet should meet the regulations and fit correctly. It is a safety item, so should fit properly. Not only that, an ill fitting helmet is simply uncomfortable and annoying if it is moving around on the head each time you hit a wave.

Helmets should be worn at all times on rivers. Hitting a head on rocks or the river bed is actually quite rare, but bumping a head on overhanging tree branches is surprisingly common.

4.3.3    Bouyancy Aid

A buoyancy aid should meet the regulations and fit correctly. Again it is a safety item, so should fit properly. Again, an ill fitting buoyancy aid is simply uncomfortable. Ideally a racing buoyancy aid will be very light. It should be narrow in the chest and back area allowing complete and free movement of the shoulders and arms. A buoyancy aid should also be short in the body. With the advent of large volume boats, a buoyancy aid that is too long will sit on the spraydeck and restrict body rotation.

The foam in a buoyancy aid does deteriorate, so a race weight buoyancy aid is likely to need replacement, or additional foam adding, every 2 or 3 years to be sure of passing the regulations of supporting the body.

4.3.4    Spraydeck

The spraydeck is the most important piece of equipment, as it is this that keeps the water out. The deck itself should fit the cockpit of the boat perfectly. If it is too large it may pop off under water pressure, or be too slack where it clips under the cockpit rim and let water in.

When clipped in, the deck should be taut and rigid so that water is shed quickly and doesn’t pool in the lap. The most common material to achieve this is neoprene. It is a material proven to be watertight and have reasonable longevity. There are newer neoprene-like materials available, but all of them create a taut deck. The elastic should be quite tight to create a good seal under the cockpit rim. Make sure it is clipped snugly with no bumps in the neoprene as it passes over the cockpit edge. Any minor imperfection in the seal will create a small leak which lets in a surprising amount of water.

If the cockpit rim is proud of the side of the boat, watch out for damage on the cockpit edge. The area can be easily caught against big rocks or simply with your hand or paddle shaft.

The bodice of the spraydeck should fit snugly to create a good seal, but not so tight to prevent freedom of movement and breathing. A loose fitting bodice made of thick nylon or similar material is most popular. Tight elastic at the top is required to keep water out. The join of the bodice to the deck is the most important part. This must be waterproof. It is the area of the deck that wears out most quickly as it rubs against your waist whilst rotating and has the most strain caused by body movement. Always keep a careful check on the condition of the spraydeck.

4.3.5    Cagoule

A cagoule should be waterproof and light. The seals at the neck and cuffs must be good. Creating a good seal without having them too tight can be difficult. Dry seal cuffs do this best, but they need to be looked after as they can perish or tear if good care is not taken. However, they are usually easy to replace as they are simply glued to the cagoule. It is difficult to get a dry seal neck to be comfortable, so neoprene neck bands are most common.

The waist band should be tight enough to prevent water rushing up the body and in through the top of the spraydeck. Again it is a difficult compromise between keeping a good seal and not being too tight on the stomach which can hamper breathing and body rotation.

The best solution is to have a cagdeck, which is where the cagoule and spraydeck are a single sewn together item. This allows complete freedom in the waist area. The weak point of cagdecks is the cagoule near the join to the spraydeck. This area often suffers from constant rubbing against the body which can wear away the waterproofing and allow water to enter. An awful lot of water can enter the boat through this route, so it is important to take good care of race cagdecks saving them only for racing.

4.3.6    Pogies

Pogies are the nylon over mitts to keep hands warm and are an essential item for Wild Water Racers. It is important to keep hands warm to prevent extreme discomfort or possible injury from cold hands. Thin nylon versions as well as silver lined or fleece lined thermal versions are available.

If an athlete doesn’t like wearing pogies, sometimes simply warming up for 10 minutes with a thermal version is enough to get hands warm at the start of a session or race and then the pogies can be removed.

4.4 Clothing

Clothing should be light and comfortable. It should provide sufficient warmth in cold weather and reduce overheating in hot weather.

Clothing should be dry when you put it on, to provide most comfort and keep muscles warm. Ideally athletes will have a number of sets of clothing so that they are always using dry sets. This can even extend to their shoes!

Clothing should be kept clean to prevent the risk of bacteria. Laundering of thermal wear after every use does prevent ‘smelly helly’ syndrome.

When paddling has finished, change into dry warm clothes as soon as possible; Getting cold whilst wet uses a lot of energy and it is at this point the body’s immune system is at it lowest, so keeping warm can also reduce chances of illness.

4.4.1    Shirts

The most common choice of clothing is thermal shirts. These can be short sleeve or long sleeve, however remember muscles should be warm to perform well, so long sleeve would be the usual choice.

If the weather is hot and overheating is a problem, lycra shirts are good. They provide a layer to protect your skin from your waterproof layers, whilst creating a cooling effect.

4.4.2    Legwear

The most versatile legwear is neoprene shorts. They are comfortable to wear in the boat and provide good grip on the seat. Ensure the shorts have a high back to prevent chafing on the backstrap. They provide sufficient warmth in the cold and are cool enough in hot weather.

If an athlete likes to have vigorous rotation, they may prefer to use lycra shorts which will slide on the seat. These are not very warm in cold weather though.

In particularly cold weather, you could use thin neoprene leggings which are now available.

4.4.3    Footwear

Footwear should be as light as possible. It’s silly to trim weight off a boat only to get in it with heavy shoes!

If they can bear using bare feet, then clearly this is the lightest footwear! However care must be taken to avoid cuts and risk infection from dirty water or riverbanks. They could use footwear to get to and from the river, and ask someone to carry their footwear.

Probably the best solution is to use lightweight shoes. There are many watersports shoes available now, which are fashionable and practical. It has been said the first rule of canoeing is to ‘keep your feet dry’. By keeping shoes and feet dry they will remain warmer.

4.6 Tying boats on Roof Racks and Trailers

It is important to tie boats onto roof racks and trailers properly to ensure the boats are not damaged or worse still fall off and cause a road accident.

4.6.1    Roof Racks

Most people carry boats on roof racks on their sides. This allows more space on the roof for more boats and tends to tie the boat down on the seams of the boat which is generally the most rigid part of the boat. Placing boats on their side usually requires an upright or J-bar to lean at least one of the boats against. Boats can then be stacked against each other. Boats should be centred between the roof rails so that they are nicely balanced. Facing them forwards will reduce fuel consumption.
Most people choose to tie with straps with buckles. It is best to ‘tie off’ the strap at the buckle or around the roof rack as straps can slide through the buckle if put under strain potentially causing the strap to go slack or release completely! If you are good with knots, ordinary rope is very effective. Elastic cords or straps can be very effective as a stretched cord doesn’t go slack. However the knotting or clipping together of cords should be carefully checked to ensure they won’t slip, break or detach. The hooks on commonly available bungy cords are not really suitable anchoring mechanisms.

Having tied the boat/boats onto the roof rack it is important to complete the securing process by end tying the boats. The stern ends should be tied into the roof rack to stop the boats sliding backwards in the air pressure. The bow ends should be down tied down to an anchoring point around the bumper area. Some people use the towing eye in the front bumper, others attach small loops of rope (ears) around engine mounting points just inside the edge of the bonnet. These ears just poke out when the bonnet is shut. It is very important to down tie the bows of the boats to resist the enormous uplift generated by the boats. Most roof racks and the roof rack mounting points are only rated for a downward load and not the uplift load. It has been known for roof racks, integral roof rails, integrated roof tracks and parts of car roofs to rip off cars carrying wild water racing boats.

4.6.2    Trailers

The principles for tying boats on trailers are similar to roof racks. Due to the lack of suspension on trailers, boats have a greater tendency to loosen and bounce around.

Boats on their sides will tend to turn themselves to 45°, so often it is best to accept this will happen and tie the boats at that angle in the first place. Unfortunately if a boat is soft this may cause some squashing of the boat.

Using elastic chords or straps to tie boats on trailers is very effective because they don’t go slack. This is often enough for shuttling slowly up and down a river. However, for longer journeys or on rough roads it is sensible to also use additional ropes and straps to tie over the boats, but also to end tie the bow and sterns to prevent boats slipping forwards or backwards.

You should always make sure the trailer is safe. Check tyres are in good condition and welded joints are still sound. Trailer boards should be checked they have the correct number plate for the vehicle towing it and that all lights work correctly. If boats stick a long way out the back of the trailer you should attach a sign of flag to indicate the longest point.