I have analyzed and calculated and ran numbers in every combination and permutation regarding my chances to break Carter Johnson’s 242 km surfski 24 hour distance record. So far, to be brutal honest with you, I have not been totally convinced that I can do it. Carter is a formidable opponent and it is very difficult to beat the simple efficiency of a Surfski kayak and a paddle.
Is my boat fast enough? Am I physically capable? Both really important questions, and both difficult to answer independently.
However, I found a way to directly compare man and machine. I found a YouTube video of Carter doing a 4 minute, 11 second thousand meter sprint in the same Surfski kayak that he used to set the 24 hour HPB distance record. I figured that if my fitness and my boat were both up to the challenge, I should also be able to complete a 1000 meter sprint in about the same time. And I did – 4 minutes, 11 seconds exactly.
Below are the two YouTube videos – the top one showing Carter finishing his 4:11 sprint in his Surfski kayak and below that, me finishing my 4:11 sprint in Critical Power 2 human powered boat.
I haven’t been training these short bursts, so my sprint interval power is probably down from what it used to be, but I was able to complete a few very painful 1000 meter intervals between 4:11 and 4:16. My interval was also interrupted by some waves from the SS Moyie paddle boat, and my prop striking the hull near the end of the interval when I was pushing out over 400 watts to finish. I am certain that I could shave at least 11 seconds off with some additional training – which would probably be good for me anyhow.
I think this is a fair comparison and at the very least, it provides me with some level of confidence that I should be able to go at least 242 km in 24 hours with the assumption that my long distance endurance is at least equal to Carters.
I have postponed the 24 hour record attempt until later in August to allow me more time to find a lake and get organized. We’re off to our cabin in Whitefish, MT this week and I am planning for some epic long training days on Whitefish Lake and maybe even Flathead lake with CP2.
I just had an email conversation with Jeff Potter about what exactly we are hoping to prove to the world by beating a simple kayak with a complicated pedal and propeller powered boat. Jeff really makes me think about the bigger picture. I get so immersed in my challenge that I sometimes lose site of why any of it matters at all.
If the record is a vast improvement over the kayak, then we could certainly state that our system is simply a better way of travelling on water by human power. It’s not that simple, and I really doubt that if I break the record, it would be by a substantial amount – however, 1 km over the current record in my books at this point *IS* substantial! A kayak is simple, light weight, and inexpensive. It can be dragged up a beach and generally weeds don’t effect it’s forward progress much. There isn’t much to break on it and you can paddle in shallow water because the draft is so small. The pedal powered boat is none of the above.
A pedal powered boat does have it’s merits though – The advantages might be equal efficiency to a surfski – but I would say more comfortable to more people for longer distances than paddling. It also frees up the arms for fishing, or reading, or whatever. Most of the rowers tell me they would kill to be able to use their hands and arms during a long rowing journey.
The technology we develop in pedal powered boats, however, has far greater importance than for what Joe Sixpak wants to tool around in on the weekend. Because we are developing a means to power a boat (or a road vehicle for that matter) that does not rely on large oars or paddles extending from the hull, we have a way to make our boats more aerodynamic for wind and weather sheltering for the rider(s). On long journeys, this is substantial (as PedalTheOcean hopes to prove).
For the advancement of energy efficient water transportation, what we are developing with our pedal powered boats is DIRECTLY APPLICABLE to that end – whereas, paddle powered boats are not (I doubt anyone would be interested in pursuing a solar powered rowing boat). An adequate solar panel on CP2 would probably be the most energy efficient boat on the planet. I’m not sure how you could use a solar panel on a Surfski.
I’ve said this before – Human power is about the pursuit of doing more with less rather than our current way of always trying to do more with more. Someone calculated that a gas engine in Critical Power would demonstrate fuel efficiency of over 10,000 miles per gallon.
I would like to extend a HUGE congratulations to Carter Johnson who recently won the men’s solo division of the Missouri 340 kayak river race. Carter finished the race in 37 hours, 46 minutes. Johnson’s time is record-setting for this race, now in its third year. He finished more than eight hours faster than the winner in the men’s solo division last year. WOW!
Carter Johnson during the 2007 Texas Water Safarai
Image courtesy of FitToPaddle.com