Saturday, 7 June 2014

Scottish Women's Paddle Symposium 2014

This year I attended the SWPS at Findhorn for the first time and coached a couple of rolling sessions over the two days. Although I didn't spot another paddler dressed in a tuiliq or sporting an avataq there were a couple of skinny stick users in the sea kayaking crowd and plenty of interest in trying a different approach to rolling.

The weather was glorious (reminder to self - apply suncream after rolling demo), the location for the rolling sessions at Hopeman harbour was perfect - an outdoor swimming pool sheltered on all sides and with a nice sandy bottom.

To start with we had a think about body movement and flexibility and then went on to compare kayaks and paddles. Thanks to Pam and Alan Forsyth I was able to show a range of paddle designs and materials. I also got to try out the new Gearlab paddle which one of the participants was using - interesting! However as usual my faithful roll friendly paddle is my Joe O' stick, which is perfect for sharing with others too.


It was very rewarding  supporting individual progress from static brace through to butterfly roll and beyond - hopefully the sessions allowed folk to get to grips with the foundation skills and the confidence to go away and practice, knowing a few reasons why certain things work well.

The weekend trip allowed also me to get van season underway, and get on the road on my own again. Once past Dunbeath and Berriedale Braes (graveyard of Orkney vehicles with any kind of lurking clutch problem) it was all good. It was interesting to hear what other women had to say about the various van sizes and their driveability', kayak carrying capacity and living space. Reassuringly quite a few folk had issues with reaching the carriers to secure them - another 'not just me then' moment. Unsurprisingly the weekend was punctuated by people saying things relating to strength or stature which I had already thought of more than once myself!

A women only event is a great way of meeting other women paddlers and coaches and supporting each other's personal development. It is reassuring to hear other folk have had similar experiences and issues in their paddling careers, quite often having shared preferences in learning styles. It also creates opportunities for meeting up with other paddlers later, and sharing future events like

Thanks to the organising committee, and Tania for the photos and helping coach on the second day.
Looking forward to next time!

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