Paddling on the Rock: The Atlantic Paddling Symposium Wrap-Up

Thursday, 26 May 2011
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The Hurry up and Wait Game

I just got back from teaching at the Atlantic Paddling Symposium in Newfoundland this past weekend and had an absolute blast. If you didn’t go then you really should consider getting your butt off to the Atlantic Provinces next year and participate.


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Located just outside of Terra Nova National Park the symposium attracted over 160 paddlers (including coaches) from all over the Atlantic Provinces and eastern Canada. It was different then several other symposiums I have attended as it offered clinics on a wide variety of paddling disciplines including sea kayaking, flatwater and whitewater canoeing, whitewater kayaking, stand-up poling and canoe poling.

I had the pleasure of teaching sea kayaking clinics on a bunch of different topics including boat handling in wind, blending strokes (for efficiency and power), introduction to rock gardens as well as a forward stroke clinic.

The great thing that I love about symposiums is getting to meet and work with some fantastic instructors. This event had a great roster of staff including Mark Scriver, Maligiaq Padilla from Greenland, Christopher Lockyer, Matt Nelson (from Washington State), Kevin Callan, Jim Price and the always funny, Mike Smith who was rocking the whitewater world.

Weather-wise, it was cold. Over the weekend the mercury never rose higher then about 5C (41F) so I was pretty happy to be wearing my Kokatat dry suit. I also got to test out my new Kokatat Storm Cag and put to good use over the weekend. It was great keeping me toasty warm while on breaks.

Salvage, Newfoundland

Newfoundland is such a gorgeous place to paddle. I have known it for years after seeing a million tourist commercials compelling me to come and visit but I was still blown away when the plane landed. Driving from St. John’s through to Terra Nova National Park, we passed by dozens of places that looked perfect for doodling around playing in the rocks and sea swell. For example, about 2-3 miles down along the shoreline from the event location was a great set of sea caves that were so deep they required a headlamp to get to the back of one. It was a really nice change compared to the civilized (and sometimes boring) world of the Toronto Harbour.

What’s the coolest thing I saw? A whale! Yep. A small Minke whale surfaced about 20-30 feet right in front of us during one of our clinics. The group of local paddlers with me were all cool and collected and said it’s a fairly common whale to see but I had no problem letting them know how excited I was. I might be mistaken but I believe I screamed and clapped my hands with excitement. Don’t quote me on that...

Morning Organizaion

The Atlantic Paddling Symposium moves around from year to year. They haven’t officially announced the location for 2012 but rumours are that it’s going to return to Nova Scotia. I’m already looking forward to it.

I posted a quick collection of photos from the weekend over on Flickr.

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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