Rosters and seating are decided by the head coaches over the course of the off season as well as the paddling season. There are many factors that determine where you sit: gender ratio, fitness assessments, paddling technique, body weight/height, boat blend, and attendance.
Currently, ERDBA rules, which falls under USDBF, state that mixed crews must have a minimum of 8 self-declared female paddlers paddling per race. However, there are variations in these rules depending on the festival. For example, some festivals might require that a mixed crew must have exactly 8 female and 12 male paddlers. Some state that if one male or one female paddler is missing from the 12/8 ratio, then the team must also drop one female / male respectively. There are also some festivals that do not follow the USDBF rules and may require only 6 female paddlers. The IDBF and other governing bodies like DBC have transitioned to a 10/10 gender equal ratio.
Beyond the gender requirements for a mixed crew, the head coaches look at various factors concurrently to determine the rosters and substitutes.
Fitness assessment are conducted throughout the season to assess the strength and conditioning of a paddler. A typical fitness assessment might consist of bench press, pull up, run and plank exercises. There is a bigger emphasis on the bench press and pull ups compared to the run and plank. A kayak pro ergometer test or an OC1 time trial might also be conducted to further assess a paddler’s strength and speed.
The paddler’s technique, paddling strength and conditioning are incredibly important in creating proper boat speed. The coaches assess everyone’s paddling abilities during the water season. Coaches look at the current technique, ability to sustain good form, and execution of the Boston 1 technique. Also taken into account is the paddler’s on-boat attitude and ability to adapt to changes in seat position, paddling side, race instructions and stroke rate.
Beyond a paddler’s athletic ability, the head coaches also consider body weight, side preference and body type to best determine where one should sit on the boat. Usually, larger and taller paddlers sit in the middle due to wider seats and longer foot holds. Smaller and shorter paddlers might sit in the front or the back. Boat balance is taken very seriously in terms of left/right and back/front. An unbalanced boat is very dangerous and is more prone to boat flipping (a very rare occurrence). Furthermore, a balanced boat moves through the water smoother and therefore is a faster boat.
Boat blend is another factor determining who sits where. Every athlete has a different body type and potentially a different stroke style; this may determine if they paddle well behind one person or another.
Deciding who substitute races goes beyond pure fitness numbers and attendance – all of the above is taken into consideration. Subs warm up with us and are there in case someone doesn’t feel well or gets sick/injured. They also provide us with water and support pre and post race. They also take video footage of the races to help us improve ourselves. Subs are a pair of eyes outside the boat that can help us fix any issues that may arise during a race – they are an integral part of the team. Having subs means that our paddlers are rested and allows for more paddlers to paddle versus having less paddlers paddle more. We try to sub everyone out equally (meaning there isn’t a single person subbing out twice) and try to be fair and as inclusive as possible.
If you have any further questions regarding seating and placement on the boat, please reach out to our Head Coaches!