Have you had your boat jigged?
Every boat competing in the U.S. National Canoe and Kayak Championships must be checked - or jigged - before and after each race to meet specifications.
"Everyone before they race, we want them to have their boat jigged, even if its been jigged before because things can change, people try to cheat, believe it or not. And it just makes it look more professional. First time racers come, its like its the big time and its the feel good thing," USCA National Coordinator Karl Vogel said. "And we want to make sure no ones boat has an unfair advantage."
Norman Ludwig, left, is in charge of jigging boats during the U.S. Canoe Association races in Warren. Jigging involves checking the dimensions of the boats to make sure each craft fits in the category. Each boat has to be jigged following a race to be a top-five finisher.
Marathon races were held Friday morning from the Kinzua Dam to Betts park and included the C kayak class which have to weigh 40 pounds, the width has to be at least 8.5 percent of the length, it has to have hatches and bulk heads.
"It's like stock car racing, keep even and legal," Vogel said. "It's a matter of length versus width equals speed. The wider the more stable, the longer the faster and usually the more tippier."
Saturday's races will be a touring day and include unlimited boats, a class Vogel came up with that is "anything goes".
A C kayak cannot be over 18 feet long. The next step is touring and can't be longer than 20 feet but must be at least 18 inches wide.
The unlimited class gives paddlers who've caught the racing bug a nice stable boat to start with, Vogel said.
"There's a lot of combinations. We try and keep it so that if you have a boat, and you're interested in racing, you come to the USCA and we'll have a class for you," Vogel said.
A few inches in length between boats can matter, but Vogel said it's really the engine, or the paddler, at that length that makes the difference.
If a boat is found not to meet measurements the paddlers are disqualified.
"The whole idea is we measure them afterwards, not that people would cheat or have an unfair advantage," Vogel said. "We catch them all the time."
"These are my easy days," USCA Jigger Norm Ludwick said at the finish line at Betts Park on Friday. "Yesterday we put in 16 hours."
Participation on Friday was good, Vogel said, but new regulations that require each paddler from the Kinzua Dam tailwaters to wear an approved life vest has led to decreased contestants from past years, Vogel said.
The USCA is below the Olympics and the world championships, but is above everything else, leading some athletes who train five to six days a week by themselves to skip racing in Warren this year, he said.
"A lot of guys went to another race that's this weekend that they didn't have to wear life jackets," Vogel said.
Vogel was checking life vests on children who were racing this weekend and said down the road, "everyone is going to have to wear a life jacket."
"I'm not saying it's bad, its just the world is changing and we're going to have to change with it."
The USCA will be held in Michigan next year, and Warren will have to put a bid for 2014.
Standing near the finish line at Betts Park, Vogel pointed out that there was nearly $35,000 in equipment within an arms length.
The USCA can transition to the new life vest rules, but the paddlers must have is water, he said.
"We've got to have water to race in, is one thing, and I know you guys have been in a drought," Vogel said. "I was up here three weeks ago and the cubic feet per minute was 3,000. We were beneath that today. We were promised more. I know you have a new guy in at your Army Corp and they've always given us a waiver in the past with the life jackets and they've always released enough water.
"We want to come back to Warren; we need water," Vogel said. "If you guys can do anything and you want us to come back here, we've got have that water."