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Elite vs. Elite


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Yours truly intends to race his Seda Impulse in the 2009 Mayor’s Club race around Manhattan. Reviewing the application forms I noted that the boat classes are 1. Elite (includes: ocean racing canoes, surf skis and sea kayaks with overall widths of less than 20 inches); 2. Touring (sea kayaks with overall width of at least 20 inches and standard paddles); and 3. Fast Touring (sea kayaks with overall width of at least 20 inches and wing paddles).

This terminology bothers me a little bit. Is the use of the nomenclature “Elite†patronizing to the touring class paddlers? Why should surf skiing be considered a more elite sport than sea kayaking?

By way of analogy, in the Blackburn Challenge, there are four rowed boat classes:

1. Traditional Banks Dories: Boats entered as Traditional Banks Dories will be screened by the International Dory Racing Committee.

2. Fixed Seat: Oar-on-gunwale boats only. Fixed seat boats with outriggers are in the Open Class division.

3. Sliding Seat Touring: Singles and doubles with overall length to overall beam ratio less than or equal to 9:1 or overall length less than or equal to 19' (singles) or 23' (doubles).

4. Sliding Seat Racing: Singles and doubles longer and narrower than Sliding Seat Touring boats.

Can any one imagine the Blackburn committee getting away with calling sliding seat classes 3 and 4 above “elite†classes. but not the first two classes? All the classes are elite, especially the Banks Dories … the Banks Dories’ rowers need to generate more power than any of the other rowers and paddlers in the race.

If one thinks that surf ski paddlers deserve the elite class nomenclature because they are faster then than the touring class paddlers then consider the results from the 2007 Mayor’s Cup race. There were 23 “elite†entrants (including four world class professional entrants) and 48 touring entrants.

1 touring boat beat 12 elite boats

2 touring boats beat 11 elite boats

3 touring boats beat 10 elite boats

5 touring boats beat 8 elite boats

7 touring boats beat 7 elite boats

8 touring boats beat 6 elite boats

10 touring boats beat 5 elite boats

18 touring boats beat 4 elite boats

22 touring boats beat 3 elite boats

30 touring boats beat 2 elite boats

37 touring boats beat 1 elite boat

No big deal, but any serious comments on this?

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