Disaster training

Training for Disaster is a philosophy I try to encompass in all aspects of my training as it helps me push the boundaries of my dwindling kayaking skills. I try to look at my kayak skills in different ways and identify the right way and the wrong way. Sometimes it helps to get it wrong in order to improve.

When practicing landing in surf I do it the right way, waiting for a smaller wave to pass under me then paddling after it to chase it shoreward, sliding gracefully up onto the beach and the wrong way, catching the wave, usually broaching the seakayak and having to support stroke as it is bounced along.

Paddle onto the back of a small wave and follow it to shore.

Sometimes you have to wait for a smaller set of waves

Get it right and you will slide gently onto the sand.

Steve shows how it’s done landing between larger sets of waves

Pick the wrong wave and you might meet disaster.

Sometimes you miscalculate badly. That’s me in there somewhere holding onto my paddle

Practicing for the times that you get it wrong will increase your confidence and your ability to recover after errors of judgement and can even make for a lot of fun. You don’t need huge waves to improve skills so try to practice every time you go kayaking.

Often the fun can be just getting out there…..

I was trying to stay dry today !!

Then there are paddlers I know who don’t need to “Train For Disaster”. Disaster is their middle name and part of their everyday paddling life, providing lots of fun moments, some of which are caught on camera like this one.

All Washed Up.  I have no idea what happened here…..but it looks impressive

Cheers ….Ian Pope.

Old Paddles

In a dark corner of the shed hidden behind an old Canoe Polo kayak and some old kayak seat moulds I found some very used paddles from the 1980’s. Now I remember why I like the look of wooden Greenland paddles.

A Greenland Paddle ? No thanks !!. That was what I remember of my first introduction to Greenland paddles in the 1980’s.  I was paddling a Nordkapp at that time and just getting into long distance sea touring when I came across a couple of “salty old dogs” who were dabbling with GP’s they had built from plans sourced from magazines ( no internet in the good old days). However, I ended up owning a paddle made from these plans as well as one purchased from overseas. (Mitchell brand I think).

Then arrived a new Kober Augsburg, followed by a Nimbus Capilano and a Linimat racing paddle, along with commitments in Canoe Polo, Marathon and Sprint racing for many years as well as instructing Sea Kayaking. Lots of other paddles came and went after that.

I now spend my days paddling or pedalling and the lure of the GP resurfaced using the Elver Greenland Paddle (made in Australia). I find that I like the feel of the GP and it seems to relieve my creaking joints. I even found rolling easier with the GP, maybe it’s just the longer surface area; and that’s rolling a Nimbus Njak kayak, not some low volume Greenland rolling kayak.

I did take time to get used to the GP in heavier conditions and clapatis but it all seems pretty normal now, no matter which paddle. I like the idea that I can move my hands up and down the GP to change direction which is quite different from what I have taught others in the past.

I worked out the approximate surface area of the Greenland paddle compared to my Feather brand Spoonbill paddle and found that they are actually very similar, which sort of surprised me a little as I always had it in my head that the GP was smaller in overall surface area and offered less support when bracing. I know that it feels that way when bracing sideways in a wave but maybe it’s just that overall it has a “softer feel” (is that a technical term ?).

I don’t get into the “which paddle is better” arguement. Have both and have fun – I also have a ruddered and a skegged kayak !. I find them equal, just different.

What next ?  I have ordered a new Greenland paddle from a local craftsman made exactly to my dimensions, and I have found a box of old kayaking photos in the shed so maybe more laughs to come.

Happy Paddling
Ian