Winning from the START
Jude Turczynski

In OC-1 sprint racing , there is no more important moment than the start and the few seconds that follow. When preparing for your race, get out on the water early. Do your warm up as you check the course for current, wave direction and wind. Practice holding your canoe on the starting line, minutes before they call you up to the line.

If you line up next to the line marker that is on the upwind, up-current, up-wave side of your race lane, you'll be able to more accurately tell where the start line is. This way, you won't bump into the marker/flag if you can't keep up with the drift. And, as you travel down your course, you won't be wasting as much time, effort and energy ruddering and correcting for drift in your lane. If wind/current has you drifting across the start line, it's best to learn to keep your canoe in place, rather than back paddle several feet behind the line and drift back to the line right at the "Go" signal (this works about once in several tries), hardly worth it.

When waiting on the line, keep an eye on the race starter. You should've been studying this person's habits during the preceding races and so will be able to count down to "Go," just by reading his/her body language. Be absolutely certain, you're in the correct lane before they call you to the line. This will be where lots of people get confused, loose concentration on the process, and loose the race before it begins.

When they call you to the line, stop conversing with the other paddlers. You have a lot of things to worry about when there's a strong wind blowing one way, and current moving another. Don't waste precious faculties arguing with another racer over who's lane you're in. You determined that for yourself earlier.

When you see the "paddles up" signal, keep the edge of your blade close to the water so there will be almost no delay in your catch when the "Go" signal comes.

Once the "Go" signal has arrived, your blade should be deep and biting. Each stroke must be both deliberate and quick. Your goal is to get the canoe moving at full speed as quickly as possible. If your opponents have delayed their start by half a second or are slow in getting up to speed, this is your chance to make some distance before you break a sweat. Here, in these first several strokes, skill, luck and alertness may provide you with precious inches that may not otherwise be obtained by training & stamina.