By Michele Ramazza - BoaterX has become very popular during the last 4-5 years. Many people organise these kinds of races but not many people have a clear idea about the rules and ranking system. The BoaterX, or Boater Cross, has been inherited from snowboard races that are included in the Olympic winter games.
Since kayakers have 'copied' this kind of race, I think we should also copy the rules to make the race fun and fair. The idea is to have a course from 40 seconds to 1 minute long with 4 kayakers starting together at the same time. The first two who get to the finish line go through to the next round until only 4 paddlers are left to compete in the final heat.
The best courses are about 1 minute long and have multiple equivalent lines. If a course is too easy the organizers can decide to add some gates to make it harder. Gates can be fun but it's important to clarify the rules and have judges in the right position to judge in case someone touches or misses them. Generally the race ends by touching rocks or something (that should be – DELETE) fixed to the ground to avoid any swinging that could make it harder for the second paddler to touch it. It is obviously very important to have a safe course with no “different” danger in any of the lines.
The start is very important and has to be as fair as possible. That means all positions should be ideally equivalent. The start could be from a ramp or from a zone with quiet water where the paddlers could wait for the start signal. The signal can be something that physically stops the boats and is suddenly released, like a banner in front of the kayakers or a wooden plank that stops the kayaks from falling down the ramp. If a physical system cannot be set up the start can be given with a sound. When all kayakers are ready, the speaker says “start within 15 seconds” and the signal is suddenly given anytime during the next 15 seconds to avoid false starts.
Making the heats
A very important part of the race is the heat system. Anyone can create his own system to make the heats but the rules of the Ski Cross are pretty fair and I can't see any reason not to follow them. BoaterX racing generally accommodates 32 kayakers but it could also be done with only 16. First of all a ranking is necessary in order to create the heats in a fair way. The ranking can be done with a simple time trial in the course or taken from another competition. The best 32 paddlers will then (be-DELETE) qualify for the BoaterX and they will have a ranking from 1st qualified to (the-DELETE) 32nd.
Then the heats can be organised following this format:
heat 1: 1,16,24,32
heat 2: 8,9,17,25
heat 3: 6,11,19,27
heat 4: 4,13,21,29
heat 5: 3,14,22,30
heat 6: 5,12,20,28
heat 7: 7,10,18,26
heat 8: 2,15,23,31
After this everything is simple, you take the first two finishers from the first and second heat to create a new heat, and so on. It is important not to mix people up again but continue with the tournament format.
A rule for choosing the start position is necessary in order to place the kayakers at the start. The official rule says that the racer with the best ranking position can choose his place in the start and so on until all positions have been decided. This system makes the qualifications very important because if you want to gain the best choice of race start, you need to do a good time in the qualifications. I think this is a very simple and fair way to place kayakers at the start.
BoaterX is not a battle but is all about the fine art of going fast by finding the fastest lines. For safety reasons it is also important to follow some simple contact rules:
▪ Keep your hands on the paddle. You're not allowed to push people or kayaks with your hands.
▪ You cannot touch another kayakers with your paddle.
▪ Kayak – kayak contacts are allowed and it is possible to push someone offline by touching his kayak.
Website Michele Ramazza: www.micheleramazza.com/it
Photo credit (top photo) and website: www.tribealliance.com