The Award For Drafters
I love drafting*, not just doing it personally but also watching the draft-train strategy among the top guys as they jockey for position in the lead group. Drafting can turn a flat-water race from a boring procession into a engaging, tactical battle.
I don’t think there’s any question we should have drafting. It’s part of the sport and it’s here to stay. There’s no way we’re getting rid of it. Without drafting we might as well just run individual time trials at every SUP race. Can you imagine if the Tour de France didn’t allow drafting?! No.
But as much I love drafting there’s one thing that most of us will agree is pretty annoying: Draft Etiquette (or lack thereof). John from Distressed Mullet came up with a cool idea last week: Give out the “Remora Suckerfish Drafting Award” to the guy or girl who sits on the wash and puts in no time at the front even though they’re fit enough to do so.
If a paddler sits on the wash of the competitor in front the whole time, letting that leader do all the work, then sprints past at the last moment to “steal” the victory, they’re a Remora.
Note: There’s nothing wrong with sitting on the wash and sprinting past your rival at the last minute. It’s not against any rules and you could argue it’s more about smart racing than being sneaky. In fact some of the biggest wins from the elite guys and girls in our sport have come through remora tactics.
But still, most paddlers don’t like it, so while there’s technically nothing wrong with it and you may still win the race, you’re also gonna get called out for being a remora…
Again, it’s just like the Tour de France: If half a dozen riders form a breakaway group but only five of them are taking turns at the front, then that sixth guy is gonna get death stares and then be shunned for the remainder of the Tour.
Of course sometimes sitting on the wash is the only option. Sometimes you’re doing all you can to hang on and don’t have the energy to pass. The paddler in front of you doesn’t want you to pass either, because they know you’d slow down the draft train. In that case you’re simply a remora-by-necessity, rather than by-choice…
* Technically it should be called wash riding, not drafting, but I think we’ve already lost the debate about semantics…