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.

Rolls/skills covered:

  • Standard Greenland Roll (Both Greenland and Euroblade)
  • Balance Brace and Sculling for Support
  • Reverse Sweep Roll (Both Greenland and Euroblade)
  • Storm Roll (Both Greenland and Euroblade)
  • Kayak and Equipment Primer
  • Stretches for Rolling

Running Time: 2.5 Hours

More info: cackletv.com

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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 Atlantic Ocean right now in a double kayak? We figure out what he is doing and discover more about his boat.

Oh yeah, we bring in our kayak fitness expert, Erik Ogaard from Toronto and try to get fit by osmosis over the phone.

There are several different ways to get our sweet voices directly into your ears:

You can stream it live in your browser here:

 You can mp3directly download the mp3.

Subscribe via iTunes Subscribe via Stitcher

iTunes user? Subscribe and get each new episode downloaded directly to your iPhone/iPod as soon as it’s uploaded.


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Not an iTunes fan? We distribute Kayak Mainline also via Stitcher. They offer a free fantastic podcast app for both iPhones and Android and you can search and subscribe there as well.


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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 Venice, Italy where he has run Venice Kayak since 2008.

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 Copenhagen only take in children, and their focus is almost exclusively competitive, which I abhor.”

“I found sea kayaking by chance, signed up for beginner’s course in 2006 at a newly opened kayak shop on Copenhagen beach, and was immediately hooked.”

“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 Venice.

As part of my coping (or not coping) with my illness in 2006/7, I wanted to go kayaking in Italy, and I was searching for interesting places to go. I looked at a map, followed the coastline with a finger, and took notes about possible destinations. At the very end my finger ended on Venice, which I had only visited on two very short visits years before. The idea of paddling in Venice immediately attracted my attention.

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 Italy but my search for some local provider of equipment wasn't any more successful than before.

I was astonished that it was so easy selling two weeks kayaking in Venice to paddlers in Copenhagen. It made me think that there should be a market for kayaking tours in Venice, so I started spending a lot of time with spreadsheets with budgets, investments, expenses, prices and such, and it seemed to be doable. It would only give a very meagre income, and maybe only for a part of the year, but it should be possible to make at least some money.

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 Venice were modest. What was there to lose?


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.

Rene Seindal

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.

Kayaking in Venice.

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

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In episode three, Kelly Blades and I cover hard-hitting topics like polar bears trying to escape from zoos, a very famous mystery writer who was one of Britain’s first female surfers and the world’s longest kayak.

Also, we answer many of life’s toughest questions (as submitted by you).

There are now several different ways to get our sweet voices directly into your ears:

You can stream it live in your browser here:

 You can mp3directly download the mp3.

iTunes user? Why not subscribe and get each new episode downloaded directly to your iPhone/iPod as soon as it’s uploaded.

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Not an iTunes fan? We now distribute Kayak Mainline via Stitcher. They offer a free fantastic podcast app for both iPhones and Android and you can search and subscribe there as well. It's a great system.

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What are we missing? How else can we get it out to you easier? Tell us below in the comments.

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If you are a canoe or kayak instructor make sure you check out the latest issue of the American Canoe Associations, Journal of Paddlesport Education.

The Journal is a fantastic resource filled with tips and ideas to make your teaching easier and more fun.

Here is the description on the ACA website:

The Journal of Paddlesport Education is a monthly electronic newsletter from the Safety Education & Instruction Department that provides valuable information to paddlesport Instructors, Clubs and Affiliates.

From intriguing articles to new initiatives, updated course curricula, and policy changes, the monthly JPE newsletter is a primary tool for professional paddlesport development and disseminating pertinent information.

July 30th will be the 40th anniversary of that film that made everybody terrified to canoe down rivers, Deliverance.

Staring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty, Deliverance is the story of four friends who decide to canoe down the (fake) Cahulawassee River in Georgia before the valley is flooded by the construction of a dam. Scariness ensues over the next hour and a half.

The Deliverance Canoe

To celebrate the anniversary, Yahoo movies (known for their hard hitting investigative journalism) interviewed the cast to get their memories of the making of the film.

The interview has the usual fluff but does have an interesting conversation about the cast learning to canoe and how they choose the canoes for the film:

Ronny Cox: That was the thing about Burt. When we were doing canoe practice, Burt couldn't be bothered with having to learn the right way to do stuff. But the thing was, he ended up being the best canoeist of us all, because he would just go there with this attitude of 'God D**nit, I can do this.' And he would just do it. So that spirit of 'I can do this' sort of pulled us through."

Jon Voight: Also, he had the much better canoe. He had the one that wouldn't sink!

Burt Reynolds: I didn't pick the pretty one, you did!

The Deliverance Canoe

Ronny Cox: The wooden Old Town canoe is not intended for white water. It's a lake canoe. No stability. The Aluminum canoe is very broad.

Burt Reynolds: Ronny, when we went out to pick the canoes, I said 'Jon is the lead in the picture, let him pick the canoe.'

Jon Voight: To tell you the truth, the reason why I picked the green canoe is because it matched our characters. There's no flash in our characters. We were kind of homeboys. And this was a more humble thing. But it was dangerous to pick that canoe, and we knew it, because every time you'd hit a rock you'd hear the ribs of the canoe give way. It wasn't a happy experience to have that canoe. But Ed should have been in that canoe. Lewis should have had the higher tech stuff, and he looked more like Lewis in that canoe.

But Burt laughed about my choice. Because we were very competitive always. And as soon as I made the choice, he was chuckling to himself knowing I'd be fortunate not to sink. Many years later he gave me the present of a small replica of that canoe, which I have on my mantelpiece, and it says 'Voight's Choice.'

Ronny Cox:  I saw in John Boorman's commentary on the DVD that in the course of making the film, Jon and I wrecked five canoes. That scene at the end of the picture where they find that half a canoe, they [the crew] didn't have to do that, we did that for them. Burt and Ned would run a set of rapids, if they had the slightest inkling of trouble, then the crew would make big bets that the two of us would wreck. You could make a lot of money betting on us wrecking.

If you are interested in seeing the two canoes in the flesh, they are currently on display at the Burt Reynolds Museum located in Jupiter, Florida.

Film capture credits: mickeyandava.blogspot.ca

If you have ever wondered what it’s like to kayak or row across the ocean here is a clip that give you a very good example of what to expect.

This is a short film about Bhavik’s several attempts to row across the Atlantic from Spain to Antigua without a motor or sail. The total distance was 6393km and took over 100 days to complete.

Who knew it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns out there in the middle of the ocean?

Bhavik’s website: bhavik.com

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Not sure if anybody noticed it or not but buried at the bottom of the latest Paddle Canada instructor newsletter was the announcement of a very cool new benefit for instructors.

Paddle Canada Canada and Keen Canada Footwear have partnered up and are now offering instructors 40% off the suggested retail price of their entire line of which includes watershoes, sandles, shoes and hiking boots.

This goes along with all the other discounts available from companies like Red Cross, Sirius Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medical Associates, Northwater, Outdoor Research, and Level Six.

Sadly the Keen deal is only limited to one pair of shoes each year so choose wisely. You can find all the details on the Paddle Canada website.

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:02

Want Free Camping Gear? [Contests]

I got an email from friends of the site, Austin Canoe and Kayak who have just announced a new facebook contest where you can win a bunch of great outdoor gear.

Visit their Facebook page for all the details.

Sadly it’s only open to paddlers living in the US of A so I apologize to my Latvian brothers and sisters who, like Canada, can only watch the contest outcome from shore.

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