One of the toughest challenges for canoe or kayak instructors is to teach with another partner. This could be with a stranger that you have just met at a symposium or a fellow staff member at your local paddling school or club.
On the surface it seems to be a simple matter, after all you are only talking half the time but the reality is that more teaching disasters take place as soon as you add in a the second instructor. Like a complex dance routine, you need work together in harmony to ensure that your students are learning effectively.
Here is a very small selection of some of the crazy stories or situations I witnessed over the years:
Here are a bunch of random tips and ideas to help make teaching with another instructor a whole lot more fun:
You have a teaching tip? Share it in the comments below.
There is Olympic pressure then Olympic pressure knowing that your mother is a judge...
Kiwi kayaker Mike Dawson has to contend with mother Kay being one of the judges at his K1 slalom event - and yesterday she pinged him for touching a gate.
He still made it through to the semifinals at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in northeast
London, despite the 2-second penalty, and was able to laugh off his mum's intervention.
“Mum is super into it,"
Dawson, from Tauranga, said. "In fact I don't think she even knows when I'm coming through.
“I hit it [gate 5] and she gave me my touch. I wasn't sure it was a touch, so we'll sort that one out later.
“I am stoked she is here judging, and the sport is set up in a way that it has no impact on the result.”
Photo credit: IAIN McGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ
Face it, nothing is quite as frustrating as getting your boat stolen from the top of your car while you are sleeping at a hotel on your way north to the trip put-in.
To keep your canoe, kayak or surfboard from walking away; invest in a set of Kanulock stainless steel reinforced straps.
For the past couple of months I have been eying them online but since I don’t own a car, I don’t get to experience the joy of tying down boats very often. I finally had the opportunity to play with them this past Spring while teaching a several kayak courses with my good friend Tony Palmer, owner of the paddling shop Undercurrents. Over the 10 days of teaching we hauled boats back and forth to the local lake every day.
The Kanulock straps are exactly what you think they are. They are constructed of tubular nylon webbing with two braided stainless steel cables running the length inside the webbing. The wire reinforcement is designed to keep an opportunistic thief away as the straps can’t be cut with knives or scissors while the synch-down cam has a built in lock to make the system even more secure.
The first time I tied down a boat I thought that straps would be really stiff but I was pleasantly surprised at how pliable they were. You can easily tie the straps in a knot or loop the ends around the racks to eat up the extra strapping.
The Kanulock straps come in three lengths 8 feet, 13 feet and 18 feet and pricing ranges from $79 to $99 so check out your local paddling shop or visit online at kanulock.net.
Two quick camping tips:
If you are planning on going camping this weekend only to discover there is a fire ban, remember that some areas are even worse so don’t get too upset. Also, don’t piss off your camping neighbour next door and they might do you a favour when the rangers come by.
Last week I had the pleasre of attending the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium which took place in Grand Marais,
A couple of highlights for me included helping to lead a day-trip to the fabled Picture Rocks on the south
As a paddler, you would like the pictured rocks due to the numerous sea caves and arches scattered throughout. Some were only big enough for one person while others could handle 30 or more kayaks no problem. The weather was on our side that day and with little wind we were able to get in really close to the rocks.
Friday, Saturday were typical classes that you would find at symposiums and they were all really fun to teach. Friday I got to help out with an all-day rough water kayaking clinic with Danny Mongo from Werner Paddles, Mark Pecot from 41° North Kayak Adventures and Ray Boucher from Naturally Superior Adventures. Even though there was absolutely no wind we decided to make our own fun and with a lot of imagination, the water was really rough...
Saturday I had the absolute joy to teach with my new found friend, Andrea Knepper who runs an at-risk youth program in the
Here is a quick slideshow from Flickr highlighting some of the shenanigans that we got up to this year.
It looks like Maelströmkayak is quickly getting back on their feet. I got a note today from company President, Charles-Alexandre Desjardins explaining what’s happening over the next couple of months.
First off they have a new website that is supposed to go live any day now. Though a new website will be great to see, the current photo that is on the site current is awesome and better be part of the new design.
I’m told that when the new site goes live we will learn more details about two new boat designs that should be available for Spring 2013 (or hopefully earlier). The two new boats are going to be 16’6” x 21” and 17’7” x 21.5” beam. The solid design details are sketchy right now so we will need to wait until we see better photos of what the boats look like. Here is a tease drawing of what to expect.
Charles-Alexandre had this to say about what’s to come:
The names of the new models will be disclosed on our website, but you can expect a Scandinavian inspiration. We are pushing the envelope a bit with the new designs, with features quite unique. The decks are not designed for carrying all your stuff on them and in my mind, you should only carry a spare paddle, compass and water pump. All the rest should be in the boat or on you. You'll see what I mean.
So two new boats, for expedition and fun in the surf zone. One for small to medium size paddlers and the other one will be for larger paddlers. Great color combination will be made possible with our unique and distinctive hull's wing.
They are planning to test the prototypes this July and August and if the designs hold up, they will be manufactured at a factory in Quebec which is great to hear.
Time will tell what we will get. I’m just glad to see them getting back on their feet after taking quite an unexpected beating this past spring.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of watching Justine Curgenven’s latest production, This is the Roll.
Short Review: Learning to Roll? Pick this one up, it’s great.
Longer Review: The is the Roll features Greenland rolling and instruction masters, Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson so you know right from the start that the quality of the instruction will be top notch.
This is the Roll is filmed mainly from the perspective of Greenland-style rolling but don’t let that skinny wooden stick on the cover confuse you. Any student wanting to learn can apply the core techniques clearly outlined in the video and apply it to their paddle style. Tapping into the best of both worlds, everything first taught using a skinny stick then they go back over it again using a Euroblade highlighting the subtle differences between the two.
What I really enjoyed about this video is the high quality of instruction. Listening to Cheri and Turner narrate the video, it’s clear that they have taught at least three million rolling clinics and applied all their knowledge here. They take a fairly complex skill like the Standard Greenland Roll and break it down into small bite-sized chunks emphasising the fundamental skills to make it successful. I appreciated the fact that they kept going back to the foundations and used them as a theme woven throughout tying all the skills together.
The visual learner in me also appreciated that there are lots of repeating shots of the same roll from multiple angles, multiple boats and different types of people. This worked really well and allows the narrator to emphasise the key element without feeling that the video was rushed.
One of the little hidden gems I discovered was the extensive troubleshoot sections throughout. At nearly 30 minutes throughout, this is no mini troubleshooting section added on at the end as an afterthought. It’s filled with solid tips and ideas to help battle against the most common problems new rollers encounter including how to keep from pulling down on the paddle, torso rotation problems or the dreaded diving paddle in the sweep.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine who watched the video and his only negative feedback of the film was that watching it from end-to-end, its a massive pile of information to retain when heading over to the pool to practice. Thought I would agree with him that yes, this is pretty much the equivalent of a kayak rolling encyclopedia, my suggestion is to focus on one roll at a time and master it before focusing on the next one on the DVD. While watching, take some notes of the key points so you remember later.
Though nothing replaces one-on-one instruction at the hands of a good teacher, I think that This is the Roll is for sure one of the better rolling instructional DVD’s out there on the market. Pick this one up. It's great.
Running Time: 2.5 Hours
More info: cackletv.com
Episode 4 of Kayak Mainline is posted and ready to roll. We decided to push this one out the door early rather then waiting for our usual two week break mainly because it was all done and sitting there so why not?
This week on Kayak Mainline we investigate the story of the canoeist who shot a power boater in the butt because waves tipped his canoe over. We also learn about the whitewater kayaker who got injured in a landslide triggered by the helicopter who was there to rescue him. Finally, did you know some guy is solo paddling across the
Oh yeah, we bring in our kayak fitness expert, Erik Ogaard from
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I can all but guarantee that you are not having as much fun today as this 2-year old boy is when he went out surfing for the first time.
If you didn’t at least smile while watching you have a heart of stone and thus currently dead.
It’s been a couple of months since our last instalment of “I Want Your Outdoor Job”. This time we catch up with René Seindal is a Danish paddler who lives in
Like many others René got trained to work in the IT field and spent most of his time inside with very little physical activity.
Of course that lifestyle leads to some problems later in life.
“When I was forty”, René said, “I started kayaking following a problem with my back. I was told to lose weight and strengthen my back muscles, without stressing my spine, and the choices I was given were swimming, going to the gym or rowing. I went swimming but found it boring, and the gym was even worse, but practically all the rowing clubs around
“I found sea kayaking by chance, signed up for beginner’s course in 2006 at a newly opened kayak shop on
“At about the same time my marriage was going badly, and as a consequence I got a fairly severe depression. My reaction was as it often is for men when life hurts: I ran away, or rather, I kayaked away.”
1) How long have you been in business and what got you started?
I started Venice Kayak in 2008, so this is my fifth season kayaking in
As part of my coping (or not coping) with my illness in 2006/7, I wanted to go kayaking in
I spent a long time searching for outfitters, clubs, rental places, kayaking schools or just somebody with some gear, but there was nobody. In the end I found one contact, my now business partner Marco, who kindly lent a couple of kayaks to me and a friend, and we paddled around Venice and the lagoon here for a week in the summer of 2007.
Our trip got a good deal of interest when we returned to Copenhagen, so we organised a small group for later in 2007, and then started planning more tours for 2008. A few notices on a bulletin board had two weeks sold out in no time, which gave me a challenge. As the only one of us who spoke Italian, I had promised to organise all the logistics in
I was astonished that it was so easy selling two weeks kayaking in
I had lived through some of the darkest and most unhappy times of my life then, but I was slowly recovering. Still, my private life was in shatters and my work situation miserable.
The brightest moments in my life was when I was out kayaking, and the financial investment needed to start offering kayaking tours in
2) What’s the best part of your job?
Kayaking. Paddling makes me happy. Period. Even if I'm a bit down or tired, once I've pushed away from the beach and start paddling, everything lights up around me. Kayaking is the ultimate therapy for me.
I meet a lot of people from all over the world, that is very stimulating too, and I've learned to be far less introvert than I was when I was younger.
Being outside a lot, under an open sky.
Also, it is not bad being your own boss.
3) What’s the most difficult aspect of the job?
The bureaucracy. The Italians invented bureaucracy in the early Middle Ages, and they've spent most of the intervening time perfecting it into an art form. They are very good.
I used to find working with computers fun and challenging, but now its mostly just dull, stuff I have to do so I can go kayaking and pay my rent.
4) What are two tips you can give to somebody looking to start their own paddling school?
Venice Kayak does kayaking excursions for tourists, so we do sight seeing tours for people who like to be physically active and not just be transported passively around in a refurbished fishing boat with some guide on a loudspeaker in four languages simultaneously.
So it’s a paddling business, not a paddling school.
Firstly, pick the right place for your activity. You want a place with a distinct and recognisable identity, a place that is somehow different from the other places people can go; and you want a place people can actually get to, for example with an international airport not too distant. The easier people can get to your business, the more energy they will have to enjoy and participate in the paddling activities.
Second, focus exclusively on your clients experience. Do what they want to do, not what you think they should want to do. Success in the long run depends on your clients returning home happy, with a special experience and unique memories which they will then share with friends and colleagues, post on Facebook and review on TripAdvisor.
5) What about your job do you think would most surprise people?
That it pays my bills, or alternatively, that it only just pays my bills.
In a close second position that at least half the time is spent doing other things than kayaking, like answering emails, making invoices, bookkeeping, updating calendars, posting on web sites, organising photos, and spending quality time with our accountant.
6) If you could tell something to your 18 year-old self, what would it be?
To get out and spend more time with others doing something active.
More info: venicekayak.com
Photo credits: venicekayak.com