I will admit upfront that I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to topics like kayak rescues and towing. Not sure why but I just find them more interesting to talk about and practice then boring topics like how to perfect the low brace or forward stroke. That’s why I was excited to check the the mail recently and discover a pre-release version of the upcoming DVD, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown: Volume 2 by BCU senior sea kayak instructor, Gordon Brown.
Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown: Volume 2 is the second in a three part series (look for the third volume to be released in 2012). This version take us into more advanced boat handing and covers topics such as Assisted and Self Rescues, Contact/Short and Long Distance Towing, Technical Landings and Rescue Scenarios. On paper that might not seem like a lot but trust me this DVD covers a huge pile of material in each chapter that will keep both intermediate and advanced paddlers happy.
What I really like is that for an instructional DVD, it’s actually interesting. Like version 1, the teaching elements are woven into the story of a group of paddlers who set out to explore St Kilda by kayak. St Kilda is a small cluster of beautiful and rugged islands 40 miles into the North Atlantic off the west coast of Scotland. I found the formula of mixing a good story with instruction throughout made watching the entire two hour production a pleasure.
As far as actual new stuff to learn, I was pleasantly surprised with how much material there was throughout the DVD. After watching a good many instructional DVD’s over the years, it’s sometimes hard for me to pick out exactly what new stuff I learned but in this case I didn’t have to wait to long to pick up some new ideas. For example, the long distance towing section had some great information on what to look for when buying a new tow system as well as clear instructions on how to dismantle then rebuild the whole thing as soon as you get home to eliminate the knotts and snag points. Watching Gordon explain all the different towing systems he uses is worth the price for admission alone.
Compared to version 1, the production and editing of this video is greatly improved. Producer, Simon Willis invested new cameras and waterproof gear so version 2 was shot in entirely in HD. You might remember in version 1 that several of his waterproof cameras were not at the same resolution so the footage sometimes would show clips of lower quality footage. That’s been solved and they now make use of several cameras showing the same skill from different angles to make things very clear.
The other nice improvement this time round was a subtle change that to me made a huge improvement in all the instructional segments. This time Gordon is teaching actual students rather then teaching the the camera how to do the skill. It’s immediately clear that he is more comfortable talking to real students and more natural sounding. Instructors, you are going to want to pay close attention to how he teaches the skill to the group then steal all the good lines for your own lessons.
Besides the teaching elements, I loved the groups trip out to St Kilda. Before watching the DVD I had never heard of St Kilda but after seeing the gorgeous abandoned islands with their massive cliffs and millions of sea birds; I now have another location added to my checklist of paddling locations to visit before I’m dead. Oh, did I mention that there is a sea cave that goes directly through the heart of one of the islands? Yep, on a calm day you can enter the west side of the island and come out the eastern side. Not quite the the same as going through the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings but pretty cool anyways.
One hidden gem buried in the middle of the DVD that I wasn’t expecting was a historical segment and interview of Hamish Gow who, along with his wife, were the first people to paddle by kayak the 63 km (40 miles) out from Scotland to St Kilda back in 1965. It’s a great little eight minute segment with home movies of the original crossing. The history buffs out there might be interested to know that the full interview has been turned into a 24 minute documentary which you will be able to download it at seakayakwithgordonbrown.com later this October.
Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown: Volume 2 will be available October 2011 at your local paddling shop or at seakayakwithgordonbrown.com. If you want to just sample a couple of the coaching sessions, you can rent them online for only $4.50.
All images captured from the DVD.