Saturday, November 30, 2013

outnumbered by sups,pancakes and a new kayak

Its time for pancakes again

Usually we do it after the morning paddle but this time we decided to go for it before, its good to paddle on a full stomach

Hadass is a good pancake maker too

Full of energy we went out to challenge the surf

And we needed every calorie too

We were outnumbered by the SUPS

At least 4 to 1

After we had to beg for more pancakes

And Karl received his brand new kayak, we couldn`t get him out of the cockpit for love or money

outnumbered by sups 1

What an exciting weekend, rough water, good surf and fun at Optimist Kayak club. You need to have your own kayak if you want to play in rough water, and then you need to practice a lot, a good roll is essential as well as self and assisted rescues as there comes times when you get sucked out of your boat as well. The biggest problem these days is the large number of  SUPS all trying to get on the same wave as the seakayakers. They don`t seem to know the basics of surfing, and this makes it challenging and dangerous. Its like slalom surfing, the sun in your eyes as you surf down the wave you hardly see them returning directly in your path and sometimes there are accidents.
At a certain point we simply quit as the odds of a serious collision were getting too high.
Nevertheless we had a great weekend after a long spell of flat water.....bring on the winter storms, we are ready.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ben Lawry`s surfing lesson

I can surf my kayak , well at least thats what I thought before Bens lesson. Ben divides surfers into 4 types, now I cant remember the exact words but the gist is this. The first type is the surfer who has no knowledge and not a clue how to surf, then the second type gets a bit better and can get caught in the wave the third has some sort of control and the fourth is in total control of his kayak all the time.
 Just what is this control that he talks about, well  there comes a time when surfing when you just have to let the wave take you  till it peters out, but if you control your surfing you shouldnt get into this situation. No to mention the physics and dynamics of waves etc etc, lets just concentrate on catching that wave and screaming down the face  having the thrill of the ride. So according to Ben, once your stern gets locked in the wave you are out of control, its better and desirable to control your position by breaking and forward paddling  so that you stay on the crest of the wave with your stern in the air, you can then move your kayak left or right  as you like and you dont get caught in the wave. Ben demonstrates this by wagging his tail and if you watch him in  the video you can see what he wants you to do.  If you do get caught your stern begins to travel faster than the bow and you either broach or take a nosedive. 
So its all about timing and positioning yourself on the wave crest. Seakayaks are prety long and much more difficult to control on the waves than the shorter surfkayaks.The  session in the surf was a lot of fun and one great exercise was to get out there in the surf without a paddle, use our hands and surf back to shore. this helped us learn to control the boat with our bodies and not become dependent on the paddle for support.

Playing  in the surf without paddles, sounds impossible but actually is a lot of fun

Did he catch the wave or is the wave catching him?

Looks like a good one here

Low brace low brace , thats the safe way to go

This one is going to go well.

Since then we have had absolutely flat water with not a wave in sight and so we couldnt practice at all. I have been searching the web for kayak surfing and have not seen anyone doing what Ben taught us. Did I get it right or did I misunderstand?
Heres a short video demo of Ben wagging his tail in the surf, try it , its quite tricky to stay on the crest, too fast and you get caught by the wave too slow and you miss the wave.  What do you think?

Friday, November 1, 2013

So how was it for you......

Another Optimist Symposium has come and gone, and what a good one this was. People always ask which was the best trip, sympo etc and my standard answer is that the current activity is the best there ever was. Well thats certainly true for this last one. We had 4 days of incredible weather, good company and great organisation, not to mention the outstanding coaching abilities of Ben Lawry, Helen Wilson and Mark Tozer
Mark gave lessons on rescues, leadership and almost everything else you can imagine, those of us who were with him saw a progression from one lesson to the next and it culminated in a 3 star BCU assesment. Now its not necessarry to have the stars, but it does consolidate your kayaking skills and give one a point of reference whern you wonder just how good a kayaker you are.

Towing, rescues in difficult conditions and managing groups were all covered

Many first timers were amazed at what goes into making a competent seakayaker

Daring rescues were made more exciting by panicking swimmers testing to the limits the skills of the rescuers

Symposiums are a great opportunity to practice different styles and techniques and to make all the mistakes you can, as you are in a learning mode and get great feedback  and thus improve.

Managing a tow rope for the first time can be a knotty experience

Contact tows are tried out

new friends are made

different towing configurations are tried out

Broken boats are brought safely back to shore

And for some the landscape of our wonderful beaches and waters provides moments of pure pleasure

Just look at that grin, but dont tell Helen

Oops, how did she get in here, shes not part of our sympo.

One paddler told me he did more rescues and self rescues in 2 days than in his whole 2 years of kayaking

We learned to get ourselves and our equipment onto the reef

and Mark showed us how to attract attention in the water in case of emergency

Being assigned to help the coaches is a great learning opportunity in itself, here's Ben getting his group warmed up by playing games on the beach

Ben has amazing abilities and good balance

Another type of contact tow?

Back on the beach Helen was introducing paddlers to the Greenland paddle, teaching rolls and having fun in the warm waters

Now we know how to empty a fully flooded kayak

Ben`s surfing lesson was the cherry on the top for me and will be the subject of a separate blog.

He taught us about the 4 types of kayak surfers, and showed whats possible  with the right type of coaching and practice .I am still processing the lesson, going over it in my head every day and waiting for some surf to get out there and practice.

All in all it was a FANTASTIC 4 days, thanks to all the participants, the coaches and the owners and staff of Optimist Kayak club.
Here's a link to the great video that Hadas made if you would like to see more