Thursday, 17 May 2012

Storm On!

Its been a while since I took any video to have a look at my form, so a quick check before going off to a KayakWays intensive weekend next week. This was an opportunity also to get some evidence of my roll to send to Eiichi Ito for his Storm On website so that I can qualify as a Stormtrooper. Happy to say it still works but as usual I see plenty of room for improvement!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Spoons and Sticks

The last two weeks have been full on  Euro paddling as I took part in a couple of courses here in Orkney, delivered by visiting coaches. To prepare for this I loaded the Isel and put on full kit, radio, tow line, helmet, splits on the boat  and so on and went rolling. Doing something like that used to be no big deal but the seed of doubt had taken root. I spend a lot of time rolling in a tuilik so sometimes need to convince myself that I will roll as confidently in all that gear as I had done in my pre-Greenland days.The idea that rolling skills are transferable is true - but only up to a point. The buoyancy and lack of rotation or ability to crunch forward was disorientating. The deck held me straight at the waist. The hang time to sort out buoyancy increased. The big blades! I did it, but it did not feel smooth or effortless. Had it always felt this way but previously I had had nothing to compare it to?

You might ask - why not just use a stick? Well it was my choice to use the Werner's for these courses. Firstly when I am coaching I am coaching folk who are using a Euro paddle, its easier for them to watch how you paddle, even if its not the teaching point, if you use the same type of blade as them. For leading I may well one day use a stick and carry Euros for other paddlers should they or I lose a paddle, but for now I am still the coachee and I am watching a L5 coach use Euro blades and my personal paddling skills are being evaluated with big bladed paddles. Having said all that, a butterfly roll is a nice fall back.

In an ideal world I would like to be able to switch from one to the other without having to think about it too much, but the reality is different. I paddled for a long time exclusively with big blades and I am keen to establish good habits with the stick, beyond rolling. I had a short introduction to paddling strokes with Kayakways last year so I know there is a lot to learn. Despite this I find it easier, more comfortable and familiar, to go from Euro to Stick, than the other way around.

Back in the Tahe this weekend I had the first of a few pre-KayakWays sessions. I have to get used to the Tahe again after getting in and out of the Isel (which almost comes along and scoops you out of the water) but the stick did the trick.

While writing this a video is circulating between GP users which illustrates my point with humour. Warren Williamson evaluates a British type paddle towards the end of the video.