GO CARBON! Or that is what everyone is thinking.
These days a lot of people are discussing whether to buy or use a carbon boat instead of a plastic boat.
Here is what I think from own experience and what I’ve seen happening to people who tried both.
We can’t ignore the fact that carbon boats are in the lift, they are becoming a hype for the paddlers who have the money or are really interested in freestyle.
There are indeed a lot of advantages of paddling a carbon boat:
They weigh less
They can be made to fit you perfectly
They are stiffer and very reactive
It goes bigger
But in fact, most advantages have a downside to it:
Yes they’re faster, but that makes them harder to control and harder to predict
The looser they are you might lose control on waves
The fact that carbon boats are very light and stiff makes them fragile
Cause the boat is so reactive it’s less forgiving
I have both a carbon 2015 Rockstar size M (cut up by 1cm) and a plastic 2015 Rockstar size M. When I would count the time I invest paddling in both boats, I would probably paddle my plastic boat more than my carbon boat. The reason for that is simple, when you’re training for competitions, learning new moves, trying new stuff or perfecting your moves, I find it better to be in plastic. It’s more forgiving, it’s a little slower, so you don’t wipe out that much as you would in a carbon boat and you have more time to control and perform the move. Especially when you come out of the winter and you really start paddling in spring, you will find that your body is not up to the speed of a carbon boat and you will have a hard time trying to complete moves at that level of speed. Another advantage of paddling plastic during training and preparation is that you will get stronger, more explosive, more controlled and your moves will be perfected.
Paddling in a plastic boat is harder for the muscles it’s harder to throw down but it will make you stronger. Adding the fact that you have more time to complete moves, you will have more time to learn and use the perfect technique.
Usually I switch back to carbon 1-2 months before I start competing. I can really feel that the boat is easy to throw down and by then my body is up to the task of keeping up and leading the boat during the moves without loosing control.
My advice for everyone thinking about a carbon boat is to really think it trough.
Do you need a carbon boat? Are you ready to paddle a carbon boat? By that I mean: can you do more then only big loops? Even if you have a carbon boat it’s very useful to have a plastic boat for shallow holes and for training. Actually if you really want to improve your level of paddling you still need a plastic boat.
Don’t go with the hype of buying carbon, yes it looks good and nowadays everybody wants one, but a carbon boat won’t boost your paddling skill. It will make certain moves easier and make them look better. But if you’re still learning you will struggle learning and perfecting new moves in a carbon boat.
Thanks for reading, here is my latest edit from training in Millau.