Vaaka Kayak Cadence Sensor

on Feb 25 in Equipment, Kayaks, Paddles, Racing, Skis, Think, Training, Uncategorized, Vaaka by

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Digital times call for precision tools. You’d be hard pressed to find a paddler who isn’t using GPS now, many combining with heart rate monitors. These tools combine beautifully with very functional software to accurately plot out training sessions and races, allowing athletes to assess their performance and progress. Back in my kayaking days, we focussed a lot on stroke rates during our sessions, but in all honestly, we were kind of flying in the dark a little. We used small, cheap metronomes to knock out a regular beat, and we aimed at placing the paddle in the water on each beep. That was fine for a piece where the stroke rate was consistent and we could set the rhythm at the required stroke rate. But in pieces where different strokes rates were set, it was much harder to get right. What I would have done to have a tool like the new Vaaka Kayak Cadance Sensor? This awesome little product from New Zealand is all I could have ever wished for back in those stroke rate dominated days.

The unit is small and light, and fits securely on the shaft of your paddle. Utilising ANT+ technology, it links with my Garmin 310 XT GPS with minimal fuss, and with a few setting inputs on the Garmin unit, I can follow my stroke rate in real time on the display as I paddle. Uploading the file after a session, I can then view the stroke rate of the session, combined with speed and distance, in really clear and precise graphs provided by Garmin Connect.


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Garmin 310 XT showing cadence, in addition to speed, distance and time.


So what value is watching and recording stroke rate to a paddler? Pretty invaluable actually. It provides a tool for you to accurately asses your power application through the stroke, as well as how you are combining with your equipment. By controlling your stoke rate, you ensure that you are developing speed through applying more power, and is the holy grail of good boat run and high performance. Over time you can see how your performance is improving over controlled stroke rates, ultimately making you paddle faster. New Zealand’s 200mt K1 Olympic Champion, Lisa Carrington puts a lot of her improvement over the past two seasons down to using this unit, and it makes perfect sense to see how it has helped her, combined with a lot of hard work and dedication.

Flat water kayaking is done in a more controlled environment than that of surfski paddling, but for a lot of us, we do a lot of our training on harbours and estuaries, so utilising a tool like the Vaaka can help improve our paddling and get us ready to paddle better in tough, downwind conditions through developing more power on our catch and therefore making us more stable. Also consider when you go to choose a new craft or try a new paddle. You might jump in and do some test runs, see your speed is higher than your normal craft and decide that the new craft is faster. But that doesn’t allow for an apples for apples comparison of craft. Now do the same test at the same stroke rate in boat boats, and the results could be vastly different. You can then do the test at various strokes rates, combine that with your GPS data of speed and heart rate, and then make a very educated guess of what is the fastest of the two boats for you. The very same applies to paddle shapes and lengths. The more you look at how useful this data is, the more sense it makes to use this unit. It has now become one of the must have pieces of kit in my bag and I use it every session. Being small and portable also means I can transfer it from different paddles and craft, such as surfski and K1, with no fuss, allowing me to plot every stroke I do.

When I first heard about the Vaaka Kayak Cadence Sensor, I was excited. After testing it for a few months, I can tell you that excitement was justified. It is a truly awesome piece of kit, and for the paddling techies, invaluable.

If you would like any info on the unit, just let me know. You can also purchase the units through Think Kayak here in Australia.

Stewart O’Regan

Think Kayak Australia

Mob:     0404 236 638
Skype:  stewieor