Postgraduate Dissertation

Optimisation of the athlete/equipment interface in Olympic Sprint Kayak Racing


The Olympics games represent the pinnacle of performance for athletes and their equipment. Kayak sprint racing is a small budget sport that has received significant attention to its equipment over recent years. Elite competitors have identified however that the interface between the athlete and their boat is a major weakness. Allowing the body to generate power efficiently is of the utmost importance. This is particularly apposite for Paralympians who may be require to expend a significant proportion of their energy to counter the inherent imbalances specific to the sport, that are amplified as a consequence of their disability. To create the best possible stroke; the footrest and seat must be at their optimal positions for a given athlete and race conditions. This necessitates a much finer and accurate “set-up” (fore, aft, and angular adjustments) of these devices than is permitted when using those currently available. Paralympians have the added difficulty of not being able to operate the existing rudder systems. This has been be solved by implementing a “fly by wire” device using (initially) a control system based upon GPS. The design process for new seat and footrest assemblies was initiated by creating a specification derived from consultation with Team GB paddlers and their coaches and the generation of “decision matrices”. These matrices along with “brain storming” meetings with the athletes and coaching staff enabled a ranking of possible solutions and the creation of computer generated (CAD) models. The models evolved through a series of revisions, finally leading to prototypes. The final seat and foot rest designs allowed for infinite adjustments while the athlete were situated in the boat and were demonstrated to improve times over race distances. The rudder control system created showed promise at following a locked GPS trajectory. Whilst this demonstrates the potential of such a system, it requires further tuning development and data collection to be race ready. Overall the project succeeded in allowing athletes an interface with their equipment which met the majority of their requirements, was easy to operate and can be produced at a realistic cost.

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Sarano, Nicolas


Rights Holders: Sarano, Nicolas
Supervisors: Savage, Gary

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Degree programme

MSc Motorsport Engineering



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