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By Erik Rasmussen

Kentish 3 Star Sea Paddling

Sunday 29th and Monday 30th May 2011

Warning :  wild, windy weather whips wind-chill warmth waywardly Westward!!!  Now that’s out in the open let’s move swiftly on…

So, who was there?  Fiona, Judes,  Stu, Izzy, Jonathon, Alan, Gieve and me as 3 Star Sea aspirants and Kate for a refresher.    Phil (organiser supremo) came along to provide coaching backup to Rob from Seapoint, and Jac, provided moral support and the photographs depicting our efforts to produce 3 Star Sea skills.

The Folkestone venue was perfect, except for the afore mentioned weather conditions, so options were debated.  Only Gieve wanted to brave the sea, but this was quickly rejected by those of us with a stronger survival instinct; Dover harbour involved hours’ faff and drive; so for day one, the local canal became our arena.  The water was even warmish, although the wind was funnelled along the canal providing a little bit of chop.

With instructions to forward paddle on a zigzag course using edging only, we head along the canal, carefully avoiding the fishermen’s lines.   It seems that the 3 Star Sea syllabus is much the same as the 2 Star kayak bits, with an expectation that the strokes will be performed in a nearly exemplary fashion (save exemplary for 4 Star).    A lot of the theory component was covered over lunch, huddled in the clubhouse aka ‘changing facilities container’.  Lots of useful info was imparted, some new to some of us, some a good refresher and update. 

Back onto the canal for the wet stuff, having not yet fully digested lunch, but not anticipating too much physical exertion!  Bow rescues, paddle presentations, and deep water rescues both as victim and rescuer, oh boy, was that such fun?  Who forgot their nose clips then? Followed by the really wet stuff – deep water rescues.  CAPSIZE. SWIMMER.  Shout it out we were told.  Not just to embarrass the poor soul in the water (tee-hee), but to spotlight a paddlers’ predicament and ensure a swift rescue.  Also suggested to us is that the swimmer shout  ‘ Swimmer’ too,  as it apparently helps to prevent cold water immersion gasping  (I may just stick to ‘Help’!!).  Izzy demonstrated how easy it is to hand roll a sea kayak (!), and I failed miserably to roll one with a semi-flooded cockpit but provided entertainment in the process…

For day two, the sea had calmed to the conditions that were suitable for 3 Star.  Opting for completing the theory first was a smart move, as luckily the sun came out just as we were getting ready to go on the water.  This time, Rob put those of us doing the assessment through our paces.  Rolling mojos (a slang word for self-confidence, self-esteem or sex appeal as Word doesn’t recognise it..) were found by all except Judes, who made valiant efforts to overcome an unfortunate upsidedown mindset in the sea.  Fortunately, the mislaid mojo returned in the canal at the end of the day, allowing her to join the elite group that call themselves 3 Star sea kayak paddlers (with the bit of paper to prove it).

All in all, a most pleasant way to spend a bank holiday couple of days.  It was fun to be with a lovely crowd of fellow paddlers and developing our skills at the same time.  Thank you to Rob for being our fabulous coach.

Thanks to Stu, for getting some of us tied up in knots in the evening, and many thanks to Fiona for sorting out five star accommodation for a few…

Olwen

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