Almost 6 months ago, I wrote a short post about (what I thought was) a lack of technologies for monitoring training in flatwater or sprint kayaking. To make sure that it wasn’t just me thinking that way, I created a survey and sent it to a couple of kayaking friends who graciously helped spread the word. I also posted a link to the survey on social media (i.e. Twitter) which I think wasn’t quite as effective. Overall, I didn’t get a big response but it still gave me a peek into things. So let’s dive into it and see what it’s telling us.
So here are some key stats as captured by Typeform:
There were a total of 120 visits, of which 101 were unique and out of the 101, there were 37 responses. This means a 36.6% response rate. Among the 37 responses, 14 were done on Laptops, 23 on Smartphones, and none on Tablets.
Then onto the 6 questions:
- Training frequency per week – 30 out of the 37 responses said they train at least 2 times a week or more.
- Yes/No to use of technology during training – 30 out of 37 use some form of technology to track their training
- Regarding the type of technologies they use – 29 use a GPS watch, 19 use a heart rate strap, 8 use a smartphone app, 3 use Motionize, 3 use Vaaka Cadence, 2 use a SmartWatch, and 1 uses a GPS + IMU unit. (note that some people use more than 1 piece of technology)
- The number who do not use technology – 5 responded that they do not use any technology and the most popular reason is that they have not tried them
- What they liked about their current technologies – Being able to track Heart Rate (n=18) is the top thing that people liked. This is followed by Pace (14), Speed (11), Distance (8) and Stroke Rate (4) (or cadence).
- Regarding improvements they would like to see, everyone had slightly different preferences. But in essence, 9 said they would like a kayaking specific device or app, 6 wanted stroke rate available in their existing devices, 6 wants some form of power monitoring (that is affordable), 4 would like to see stroke/technique analysis, 3 wants greater accuracy and reliability in their tracking, and 2 would like a better visual of their data.
[If you would like to see it on Typeform, here’s an overview of responses to the first 4 questions: link]
Even though I only had 37 responses, there was a good mix of opinions; and I take away 3 key things out of the above data:
- The GPS watch is the most commonly used tech. It makes sense because it is a multi-functional device – it can be used for running, riding, swimming or just for everyday use as a watch.
- More than half (19) of the people use a heart rate strap and it seems most of them value the heart rate data.
- Although there are technologies out there that can be used/adapted, 23 out of the 30 still wants some form of improvement to their devices. The most common feedback is there isn’t a kayak specific device or app.
I reckon most people would have a similar setup as the athlete in his Instagram image below – wearing a heart rate strap and with a GPS watch mounted onto the kayak in front of the cockpit.
Also from the few conversations I had with some of the kind people who did the survey, most (if not all) GPS watches don’t track stroke rate, and the accuracy of the speed measurement during short distances/sprints/intervals are not very good.
What I didn’t get a lot of information or feedback about are those kayak specific technologies that are actually in the market like Vaaka Cadence, Motionize and Kayak Power Meter. It seems like not many people have used them. This could be because of the price or a lack of opportunity to try it. I will be digging a little bit deeper into that.
The main outcome I took out of this little exercise is that my initial hypothesis has its merits, and it’s worth pursuing this further. The few options that I am exploring further going forward are (in that order):
- Smartphone app (likely iOS)
- A kayak specific device like a kayak computer
- Garmin Connect app
As this is really just a side project here at ReEngineering Labs, the progress might not be as quick. Nevertheless, it will be moving forward and I will be posting updates every 3 months.
If you are reading this for the first time, please do check out the earlier post here, and have a go at the survey here. If you would like to give your input on kayak technologies or even be part of this project, drop me a message here. To get notifications about this project, simply subscribe on the right.
With that, thanks for reading!