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Adventure Racers describe a day Kayaking with Distant Horizons

22 Jul 2011 - Nick

NAV4 Paddle Day Two – Distant Horizons

Our second paddle day with Jason (Distant Horizons) followed excellently onto our first. This time we paddled solo Sea Kayaks rather than tandems, thus allowing each of us to work on our individual skills ... as well as showing up some weaknesses and a few bad habits!

The boats we paddle are excellent Tempest 170s from Wilderness Kayak Systems.  These offer great tracking but remain agile and responsive to good handling skills.  Endurance paddling is all about efficiency and not just speed, so learning to move the boats around swiftly and easily saves a lot of energy and time.

We are a mixed bunch of paddlers, some with years of experience and others just a few.  Our shared theme being racing in Adventure Races, but paddling in a non-race environment gives plenty of time to explore the richer side of paddling.  Working on your weaknesses is the best way to improve overall performance.

A full day on the wide expanses of Ullswater with a mixed bag of weather gave plenty of time for skill acquisition and consolidation, ending with a ‘wet session’ of capsize, rescue and rolling. But the major focus for the day was advanced forward paddling skills, including forward steering strokes;  thus eliminating much of the need for drag inducing reverse paddle steering strokes.

‘Edging’ is the key, not to be confused with leaning.  Efficient edging combined with a good paddle stroke produces a very pleasing and productive ‘carved turn’.  Similarly, Draw Strokes, Low Brace, Bow Rudder and Cross Bow Rudders may sound flash but they are incisive and very effective when used correctly.  And, the final ‘wet session’ based around capsize, T-Rescue, One-on-One Rescue, and ‘All-in-Rescues’, reminded me that it is a long time since I floundered around in the water.  Hmmn, some more rolling practise is called for!

As Wilko said, ‘I soaked up more learning than you did lake water in your Helly Hansen pants ... so much made so much sense .... I’m learning loads!’  Off the water, and away from the ‘hard’ paddle skills, Jason’s experience as a skills coach is facilitating discussion on team dynamics, ideas, concerns and solutions for future racing objectives.

Our next session will focus on Open Boat skills as we paddle Canadian canoes...

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Adventure Racers describe a day Kayaking with Distant Horizons