Today’s paddle was another intro to white water day based at symonds yat, the idea being to give some of the newer members of the club a chance to experience some moving water and a great opportunity for all members to get out and enjoy the water.
We all met at the club ready for a 9am departure, boats were stacked on rooves, people and kit sorted into cars and we set off….10 minutes down the road called for a quick breakfast stop much to Rob’s dismay (he really isn’t keen on breakfast stops haha). After an uneventful journey we arrived and parked up with the sun just trying to sneak through the clouds. After a quick change with minimal faf (not like us at all) we headed over to the get in and seal launch. A quick brief on what to expect for Michael who hadn’t been there before and it was time to get on the water.
I’d mentioned earlier to Keith that I’d like to try taking more of an active role today and try a bit of leadership/coaching so I was paired up with Laura for the day to work on some skills down on the rapid. The group began the paddle by heading upstream, a good workout and warm up, to try out the seal launch rock further up, however after finally reaching the rock we found a goose nestled very comfortably guarding her nest right on the rock we were going to use, so a quick change of plan and we headed back down stream to try the rapids.
We took a quick stop above the rapids to have a look and me and Laura decided what our plan would be, the rest of the group headed down and eddied out at the top while we carried on down to the bottom of the rapid for a gentler start allowing us to work our way higher up throughout the day. We spent time working in ferry gliding and S-turns across the flow and gradually worked our way higher to nearer where the rest of the group were paddling. Laura was feeling much more comfortable today than her previous trip, really getting the hang of the skills we were working on and looking pretty comfortable 😊.
We stopped for a quick break and a leg stretch and made the most of watching the others paddling for a while, Will, Rich and Michael were all looking great showing some good technique and seeming looking pretty confident too, a great achievement for them all, especially Michael as this was his first experience of moving water. A few more of the group have joined us on the bank at this point just in time to witness Gregg going upside down, going for roll, not quite coming up and taking a swim, there were no injuries sustained but he may have looked slightly annoyed from our side of the river.
We all headed back onto the water for a few more runs of the rapids nearer the top before getting out for some swimming/throw line practice. Keith talked through the basics of using a throwline and how to swim defensively for those what hadn’t done it before and everyone got a chance to practice throwing a line or swimming if they wanted to. After some practice it was time to head back so a quick paddle downstream to the get out, a small hike back up ready for the second seal launch of the day. At this point I must add that at this point (after more teasing about my vocal paddling) I have learnt that with a big breath in its possible to stop yourself squealing!
A quick paddle upstream to the final get out and time to get changed grab a group photo and head to the pub for a much needed drink. All in all a great day on the water as a club. Well done to all the newer members for such a successful paddle and thank you to all other paddlers for their support on the water.
A little reflection for myself I have found that by spending time on working with someone on a coaching basis you are really reminded to think about what you are doing, the techniques you are using and not being a lazy paddler. For me as well I found that being focused on somebody else and being aware of what they are doing helped me to not think/stress so much about what I am doing and be more relaxed on the water (there may have even been a few smiles today!)
Sam, Gregg, Keith, Laura, Rob, Rich, Micheal, Will and Trevor.