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

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