That's a Paddlin'
May 28, 2011 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Marc Ornstein - Freestyle Canoe. American Freestyle canoeing is the art of paddling a canoe on flat water with perfect control of its movements.
posted by exogenous (37 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
That man is awesome, if just for accomplishing all of this while wearing a dapper vest.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:35 PM on May 28, 2011


Gotta love the vest.

The trick here is that he's usually operating at an angle that, for most folks, means you're about to get wet. Once he gets that keel out of the water and is at an angle when very little surface of the canoe is in the water, it's almost like he is sitting on a small, flat disk, it takes very little effort to turn. Wear a life jacket if you try this, 'cuz you're a small, swift tip from being wet at every moment.

thanks, neat link!
posted by tomswift at 12:40 PM on May 28, 2011


That was the creepiest song he could have picked, but nice canoing!
posted by domnit at 12:48 PM on May 28, 2011


*canoeing
posted by domnit at 12:49 PM on May 28, 2011


People are so weird.



God, I love people.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's "Shoeless" Marc Ornstein, bub.
posted by rhizome at 12:59 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is something brilliant about this being followed by the first triple-backflip on a BMX post. I'm not sure what, but...something.
posted by dubitable at 1:21 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm impressed with his technical skills but that has to be about the worst spectator sport ever invented.
posted by Forktine at 1:21 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, they don't show the part where the backflip dude jumps over him.
posted by box at 1:25 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The trick here is that he's usually operating at an angle that, for most folks, means you're about to get wet. Once he gets that keel out of the water and is at an angle when very little surface of the canoe is in the water, it's almost like he is sitting on a small, flat disk, it takes very little effort to turn. Wear a life jacket if you try this, 'cuz you're a small, swift tip from being wet at every moment.

His canoe has a really thick interior lip on the gunwales, giving him a couple of inches that most people wouldn't have. I'm of two minds about how remarkable this is. I was a canoe instructor, and I'm fairly certain that if I had a round keeled canoe with good rocker for the pivots and gunwales like that, I could passably recreate his routine in an afternoon. Most people with decent whitewater skills can roll their boat pretty close to swamping it and hold it. I'd need to work on ruddering like that when I did it, and I wouldn't be able to consistently get that close to swamping in a few hours, but I could do a decent approximation.

That said, I'd want a royalex or kevlar canoe-- wooden boats are generally harder to control even if his looks tight (and jealousy-inducing gorgeous.) And I've never considered canoing movements an art form so there may be something that my pragmatism is overlooking besides the roll. His movements are very fluid, but I've never cared about form beyond making sure that I or the person I'm instructing are reasonably efficient and getting the power that they need.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:46 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice.
These whitewater canoes have no keel and that's why they can spin on a dime. You need to be able to do that in rapids so you can paddle cross-current or duck into an eddy at a moment's notice. Get them out on a flat lake, especially in a crosswind, and they're fairly useless.
If you want to see an expert pull off these moves in fast water, get a hold of the late Bill Mason's Path of the Paddle, an excellent instructional video.
posted by rocket88 at 2:06 PM on May 28, 2011


America, not everything needs to made into a competitive sport.
posted by PenDevil at 2:40 PM on May 28, 2011


i like how his thanks to friends and family as read by the announcer sounds like, "i'd like to thank my wonderful friends molly, doug, jonathon, bob, elaine and all the others for their comments, advice and cocaine."
posted by rainperimeter at 2:46 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


" there may be something that my pragmatism is overlooking besides the roll"

I suspect that, for some of those moves, although I couldn't catch the hand movement in the video, he's twisting the paddle underwater.

And, you're right, that canoe didn't have a keel.
posted by tomswift at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2011


I'm so glad someone mentioned Bill Mason. I am astounded by the gentleman in this video, as I would be by Mayor Curley, tomswift, rocket88, or any reasonably competent paddler. Trying to learn a j-stroke I lifted so much water into the canoe that the instructor thought he'd developed a leak in his boat and I was put ashore posthaste. I am so appallingly bad that I've never been in a canoe again. Alas, the only watercraft I'm not an absolute menace in have steel hulls, a diesel electric or steam turbine engine, and a minimum of four decks. Which is a shame because I live in a city with two lovely rivers, completely unnavigable by a boat with more than a 2 foot draw, which rather eliminates oil tankers.
posted by angiep at 2:53 PM on May 28, 2011


South Africa, don't be an ass.
posted by xorry at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2011


In canoing, "keel" actually just means the longitudinal center line of the boat to most people. A keel in the sense of a protusion along that line is often referred to as a "raised keel" and serious canoes for most purposes generally don't have one-- they restrict lateral movement and increase the draw of the boat by an inch or so.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:58 PM on May 28, 2011


Actually, if I had been paying attention I wouldn't have phrased that correction differently because tomswift previously commented and said he was familiar with canoing. Anyway, that's not how I would use "keel."
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:01 PM on May 28, 2011


"would have phrased." Fuck all. I'm done posting today.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:02 PM on May 28, 2011


When I did my ORCKA levels, the final test was to do a "canoe ballet" where a bunch of us solo'd our canoes around on the lake in an elaborate routine while blaring Bohemian Rhapsody.

This guy easily puts us to shame. Very graceful.
posted by sarastro at 3:18 PM on May 28, 2011


That is both amazing and hilarious!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:43 PM on May 28, 2011


Mayor Curley, you can call it a day, my sloppy posting has been pointed out, your job is done! :)
posted by tomswift at 3:48 PM on May 28, 2011


On a really good day, I can make a canoe go in the direction I intend for it to go. On other days, it goes backwards.

So consider me impressed.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:49 PM on May 28, 2011


Awesome. He has skills, he's a snappy dresser, his canoe is a beaut and he's canoe dancing to Lady in Red, a song that instantly gives me the heeby mofuckin jeebies, it's a little salt in the oatmeal, some lemon rind for the espresso. Watching that video was kind of like watching David Lynch scribble something on a napkin and then toss it away.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:03 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lady in Red did it for me. I just spent about ten minutes reading stuff about Chris de Burgh. His daughter won the Miss World competition in 2003. And I suck at canoeing.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 4:23 PM on May 28, 2011


MC, I'm confused by your assertion that wooden canoes are harder to control in the water? Maybe I'm using a different definition of control, since I'm thinking of how wonderfully the cedar canoes I've paddled in the boundary waters can cut through a big lake on a windy day, while the plastic and aluminum canoes are struggling to move in a straight line.

Of course, the cedar canoes weigh twice as much on the portages, ergh.

And I'd never dare run a nice wooden canoe through whitewater.
posted by kavasa at 4:34 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the least exciting of the extreme sports.
posted by joelf at 5:00 PM on May 28, 2011


Now there's a sport that will never make it into the Olympics.
posted by bwg at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2011


This stylized canoeing seems impractical, in that it would dump the beer cooler right in the lake.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:15 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


MC, I'm confused by your assertion that wooden canoes are harder to control in the water? Maybe I'm using a different definition of control, since I'm thinking of how wonderfully the cedar canoes I've paddled in the boundary waters can cut through a big lake on a windy day, while the plastic and aluminum canoes are struggling to move in a straight line.

That's an interesting point actually because it really does depend in your definition of control-- old wooden canoes (and replicas) will go in a straight line with less adjustment than a lighter canoe. if that's your goal, an old wooden canoe is easier to control. Though if you want to turn quickly or pull stroke up to a dock, or anything else really it's one of the tougher kinds.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:30 PM on May 28, 2011


I'd like to see him do that with a dead moose in the canoe.
posted by unSane at 6:35 PM on May 28, 2011


It's about shape and weight in my experience. A tripping canoe with a deep-v shape and a bit of weight in it, you barely ever need to j-stroke. In fibreglass prospectors, we used to do three bow draws in ever dozen strokes and that was more than enough to maintain a line across a lake even 45 degrees to the wind.

The shallow aluminum freighters, the Grumman boats, were utter pigs to keep straight, even with 100+ lbs in them. This was because their bottoms were flat. Even with a raised keel, they'd scud sideways in the wind. The abs (royalex) and other fancy plastic white water boats are similarly hard to control, but they'll spin on a dime.

Olympic flat-water racing canoes have extremely deep v's, and are designed to have drafts of 10 to 15 cm even with a single person in them. Made of light kevlar (and mahogany before that), they're designed to have the water push the sides inward making the sides of the v concave rather than convex. Those boats are like knives in the water, fast as anything in a line, but have natural turning radii of several boat lengths.

Mr. Ornstein is paddling a cedar-strip solo boat, with lines that look like a prospector derivative to me. A fairly deep V compared to a whitewater boat, which is why he rolls it on it's side, but less than a deep long-distance hull shape. The other thing he has going for him is that the hull is relatively short, maybe 14 feet, which makes it easy to turn. The gunnels are fairly typical width for that type of hull, in my experience. It is a beautiful boat, in great condition.
posted by bonehead at 7:41 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just wanted to add: that canoe is also super appropriate for his outfit---it's an older, but classic design, and a fine example of such in the classic materials of wood and canvas, in great shape. It's the canoe equivalent of what he's wearing, right down to his bowtie.
posted by bonehead at 8:06 PM on May 28, 2011


Wait is that Peter Sellers?
posted by Hicksu at 8:35 PM on May 28, 2011


The only way this could be better would be if there were two bearded barefoot bespectacled men in formal dress performing in perfect synchronization. Only two, though. Any more would be camp.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:54 PM on May 28, 2011


As this is the weekend to wash the canoe -I appreciate the technical appreciation. Great title

Funny story :On a Canadian train reading John Mc Phee's : The Survival of the Bark Canoe (no link - it's at the Library) hoping to get the canoe museum .

In the smoking car I met a native Indian leaving the reservation - we talked .

I asked what he did for a living he said " The government pays us to make canoes - on weekends I drink and gamble " .

I said "Really , cool, wow, what is that like ? How do you make the canoes ?"

He said " Screw that place , they think I am on vacation , I am never going back there, I don't want to talk about it."

From this I learned that canoes with fake birch bark are cooler than the ones with fake birch bark and the fake stitching.
posted by epjr at 5:07 AM on May 29, 2011


Well, that was lovely. I spent years at one of Canada's best canoeing camps and there were some moves there I've never seen before.

The best story I can pull out: eight good paddlers once paddled the moves for a square dance in eight canoes. But not with the elegance of Mr. Ornstein...
posted by namasaya at 8:07 PM on May 29, 2011


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