Thursday, 10 June 2010

Single blade syllabus

So it was time to get to grips with a single bladed paddle. First we all stood around while, of all people, I named parts of the boat and explained about trim and the importance of communication.
I remember the moment well! Bemused, baffled and perplexed wondering WHY?!
Now I am coaching open boat at a very basic level, and I empathise. There you are - a getting to be pretty competent sea paddler, master of your own destiny even in quite big seas and raging winds reduced to... well what felt to me, like flotsam.

Luckily for everyone involved I don't know all the fancy names of the strokes and don't speak French so there was no fear of further complication. I looked them in the eye when I mentioned transferability of skills.

In tandem everyone got to grips with moving forward, paddle placement and positioning themselves. Sweep strokes and stern pry worked effectively. The stiff breeze from the north assisted in exploring trim when paddling solo and gradually moving about and changing position made sense as we went back and forth into and with the wind.

My coaching handbook got wet. Although I didn't open it once we were on the water - it felt comforting to have it close at hand. I am used to evaluating sea paddling skills by considering - Body, Boat and Blade. Change the order to Boat , Body and Blade and it is disorientating.

Despite the reservations of the salty sea kayakers everyone made good progress - they are a determined bunch. I learned a lot - nothing helps you learn like helping other folk to learn. And perhaps if we choose to spend a bit more time in open boats some folk might begin to enjoy it.

I draw the line at hitching a tarp as a sail though.....

Next time: J stroke, draws and prys...

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