Monday, July 12, 2010

Fine tuning at Bayview beach

The first of three straight weekends of training and instruction kicked off Saturday morning with Turner Wilson and Cheri Perry's Greenland Comprehensive at Bayview beach in Chequamagon Bay. Seven of us ranging in skill from 'I just got my boat this spring' to those who own a half dozen rolls worked through a day of learning new skills and refining existing ones.

The day began with a bit of a glitch when a student, who shall remain nameless but authors a kayaking blog very, very similar to this one, led half the students to the beach leaving the other half waiting for them in Bayfield for the 'follow the leader' caravan. As a wise man once said, too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Thank god for cell phones. Things were sorted out and we hit the water on a beautiful summer day, with Madeline and Long Islands beckoning across the bay. As was the case a couple weeks ago, promiscuous paddle swapping was the order of the day with Turner and Cheri contributing a dozen or so sticks to the paddle mix. A paddler really needs to think about their stroke when gently shoved out of the comfort zone with a new paddle. New paddles also tend to invoke the 'boy, I think I need one of these' response in certain gear the one writing this blog. Paddle length, width, loom length and thickness, stroke frequency, and shape all made students think about what they were doing, how different woods (and carbon fiber) felt, and how the paddle fit them and their paddling style. The strokes segment was great as well, with some students being exposed for the first time and others picking up on little nuances and refinements that improve skill level on the strokes that we think we already know. It was an amazing balancing act that Turner and Cheri performed, switching seamlessly from the beginner to the advanced without missing a beat. I also managed to work most of the glitches, which I whined about a couple posts back, out of my rolls. Actually I didn't work a damn thing out. Cheri pointed out that my shoulder was coming out of the water and I wasn't squared to the water on forward sweeps and Turner had me slow down and extend rather than push down on angel/butterfly and stick rolls (Silbs, you were correct sir). Both comments, made after observing one measly roll, turned those rolls from broken bat singles to solid doubles off the wall.

It was, as we all agreed, a great day on the water. The weather was good, the water temp was good, and the mentoring and cameraderie was excellent. Next weekend I'll be making my debut as a 4th assistant beginning class instructor trainee at GLSKS and the weekend after we will be at the luxurious SCSU Learning Cell on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs for the Traditional Gathering. The more a person participates, watches, practices, and teaches, the more we learn. So get out and play in the water. SKOAC has an opportunity for the Twin Cities folks tomorrow night at Lake Calhoun and the price is right. Free. I hope to see all ya'all, as my southern buddies say, on the water. Remember, in 4 short months up this way, the water will have stiffened considerably and some of us will be forced to risk TCP (Terminal Chlorine Poisoning) in order to play in it. Go get wet now!

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