Monday, June 6, 2011

Instruction season opener

We love our openers up here in the northland. Fishing season, hunting season, baseball opening day, thoroughbred horse racing, as well as many other events have that exciting opening day vibe. Next Saturday will be the beginning sea kayaking instruction opener for my SKOAC Club. 'Graduation' is a trip to the Apostle Islands two weeks after for some open water and crossing experience. The other club I belong to, ISK (both links on the list to the right) kicked off instruction last Saturday. All of the events mentioned above require lots of preparation and planning and a kayaking class is no exception. Both days this weekend were spent in the water with one more day of splashing to follow on Wednesday. We're rusty but things are coming along nicely.

On Saturday the BessemerConvivialist and I went down to the Minneapolis chain of lakes. Both clubs have lots of paddle events there and frankly by about mid June I'm so bored with it I could cry. The people watching is excellent however, the TinFish has superb lunches right on the water, and the water quality in Calhoun is excellent for practice. Its just the water temperature this time of year that's a bit on the chilly side. Sunday found the ManFromSnowyLegs, WingmanBrian, and I on Long Lake, a lake that has minimal people watching and no food but decent water quality and much warmer water. What it also has is an inflow creek, Rice Creek, that's rockin' this time of year. We played in the current and the MFSL joined me in the exclusive 'I hit a combat roll after screwing up in Rice Creek' club. There are two club members right now with the potential for more on Wednesday. We paddled and played but we also did a bunch of wet exit, solo reentry, and a few different assisted reentries. The discussion and critiquing made me realize that paddling is much more jazz that classicalmusic, more hockey than ballet when it comes to forms and techniques.

We all realize that their are certain constants and principles when paddling. Steve Scherrer has his great list of seven principles. They are rotation, balance, edging, bracing, upper and lower body separation, blade angle-grip/slip, and shaft angle-high/low. I would add one more: Have lots of fun. This ain't golf folks; if your hand is at chin level instead of shoulder level on your paddle stroke you ain't gonna hook your kayak into the rough. If you favor the heel hook over the more standard paddle float reentry, the Romanian judge will not deduct style points from your score. Too often I've seen people that have been far too worried about doing something we demonstrate and teach perfectly rather than just getting the basics down and refining them on the fly. Just paddle. As far as rescues, the deal is to get your rear end back in your boat as quickly and efficiently as possible and that means different things for different people. The two familiar yahoos in the image above demonstrated that perfectly at a Canoecopia event a few years back. It appeared that they had the fun component down pat.

This will be year two of teaching for me. I was thrown into the major leagues at the GLSKS last year after having my ACA Level 3 cert for exactly 3 weeks. My goal, while assisting long time paddling gurus like Mr. Scherrer and Ben Lowry, was to keep my mouth shut, help ride herd on the class, and model what they taught. Then it was back to the minor leagues with our SKOAC group instruction and some traditional stuff. I'm looking forward to the instruction season and hope that I am able to impart that 'paddling is fun' component to our students. It sure is fun for me and I hope the fun is infectious.

1 comment:

Ginger Travis said...

Just back from the coast (Barrier Island Kayaks symposium) and I'm catching up on my reading. In your previous post, the name "Rockclimbing Oboist" slew me: best, most improbable name yet. Whoever bestows these paddle-names outdid himself this time.