A Simple Sail Rig [33]

By Carlos Stotz

This is a simple way to rig a sail for a kayak and one that can be used in kayaks with no rudder. I hope the drawings help understand how the sail is made and rigged (you can always give me a call on (02) 9181 2468).

Note that the way the cloth is stapled to the timber rod creates a small slot into which the tip of the paddle is inserted. The paddle is held upright with one hand with the bottom blade held between the thighs (no, its not painful). Steering is achieved by tilting the paddle to the left or right.

I tried this sail on my big plastic chinook and worked well downwind and on a very broad reach. But the biggest surprise was to try this sail on a little Minnow. In less than 10 knots of wind, the Minnow sailed faster than when paddled and it was easy to steer around moored boats.


Quick Snaps [33]

Photos by Jan Murrell

Getting ready to do some rolling practice
Honeymoon Bay, Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend, November 1997

Doug Fraser giving some lessons

Norm Sanders, the ever inventive sea kayak designer, has come up with the pocket sea kayak

The sailors in the inaugural Americas Cup at Honeymoon Bay

President’s Report [33]


Another year, another AGM. Honeymoon Bay was the venue again, but without all the usual hassles with hoons and noise. We were allotted our own area, due to the understanding and generosity of National Parks. There were well over 50 kayaks and a good time was had by almost everybody.

Sadly, the Club lost two stalwart members of the Executive. Arunas Pilka wanted a rest from the taxing job of Sec. Treas. and Fishkiller (AKA Mark Pearson) decided that it was time to wash the printers ink from his hands for the last time. Both of them served the NSWSKC with distinction and deserve our heartfelt thanks. Under Arunas’ skilled (some uncharitable folks have called it tightfisted) guidance, the club treasury grew to monumental proportions.

Fishkiller transformed a rather stodgy London Times type newsletter into a racy Rupert Murdoch tabloid. Of course, the truth had to be bent a bit along the way, but that’s show biz.

Guest speaker

Tasmanian legend Laurie Ford was the speaker at the AGM, enticed to the mainland by a fare paid for by the NSWSKC. He recently commented on his impressions of the visit in a copy of his own club Newsletter, “The Sea Canoeist.” In general, he thought our AGM was too structured. He also attended the AGM of the Victorian sea kayakers, which was held in a pub and was more to his liking. He was also quite critical of our club Grading System.

He says:

“I first saw this about 12 months ago and my first impression was that this was a device to stop people going sea canoeing – you virtually don’t go anywhere interesting unless you are a bit of an expert.”

Ford would rather depend on his own assessments of the paddlers on a trip. This is all very well for him and his club which is small enough to know everyone personally. Laurie Ford says:

“If it ever gets more than 20 members, I’ll start to worry.”

However, with our large membership, the NSWSKC needs some sort of reference point for safety.

Safety is a big item in Laurie Ford’s lengthy writeup. He was rightly concerned over the lack of cohesion on a trip he took with club paddlers on the South Coast before the AGM (see Arunas Pilka’s article in this issue – Ed).

However, he chose not to say anything at Honeymoon Bay:

“I actually took a lot of photocopied material specially for this AGM, intending to distribute it and have a few words to say about various subjects – but after the Eden trip I had a rethink. They have about 180 members and if that’s the way they want to have their club run, then that’s their business. So I just ended up showing 160 slides of Japan, Fiji and Tasmania.”

Ford then included in his writeup a garbled list of the “disasters” which have befallen club members due to alleged carelessness or neglect. It is a pity that he avoided the chance to state his disquiet publicly at the AGM and thus spark a discussion which would have been a good learning experience for us all.

Strangely, he was also disparaging about using kayaks in the surf. He actually ran a picture in his newsletter which was taken from a kayak advertising brochure. It shows a kayak with a breaking wave in the background.

He says:

“Picture this conversation as Mr. Eskimo looks out of his igloo entrance. ‘Gee darling, there’s a good 3 metre break over the bar today. I think I’ll go out and play for a few hours.'”

“…the above advertisement gives the impression a modern day sea kayaker going out for a day’s fun in the breakers, exactly what the Eskimos never did.”

Laurie Ford’s Tasmanian paddling grounds are blessed with a plethora of sheltered bays and coves. For many of us in NSW, punching out through the surf is the only way we can reach the open ocean to go sea kayaking. But then, as they say, different strokes for different folks.

Laurie Ford and I do share some common ground: We both agree with Victorian Sea Kayak Club member Pete Dingle who Ford quotes as saying:

“Sea kayaking is about journeying. Sea kayaking is about sharing experiences and memories with others. There is more to sea kayaking than just paddling.”

Have a good year.

The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [33]

Personal Flotation Devices

Staying afloat in the water is a prime concern for mammals such as the OSD. As the Tibetans say, “Breathe out. If you can’t breathe in, you’re dead.” It’s easy enough to keep breathing in the cockpit of a sea kayak, but every once in a while kayakers are forced by circumstance to forsake that warmth and comfort for the wet, cold embrace of sea water.

When this happens, keeping the breathing apparatus operating becomes extremely important. Hence the multitude of flotation aids available on the market (and required by LAW.) A few rebelliously independent sea kayakers refuse to wear such equipment and rely instead on their luck and/or swimming ability. Most, however wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD.)

Waterways (The NSW boating regulatory body) states that, for canoes and kayaks:

“Occupants must wear a PFD except when the craft is:

  • propelled by paddles and oars in enclosed waters during daylight,
  • not being used as a tender,
  • so constructed as to stay afloat if capsized, and
  • not more than 400 metres from the nearest shore.”

The OSD wears one all the time anyway, out of habit. He finds that the PFD keeps him warm in winter and is a comfort the rest of the time. He has had several immersion events on the infamous Tuross Bar and has been very glad to receive the comforting support of his faithful PFD.

Like all bits of gear, there are various types of PFD’s. Waterways requires a PFD 1 for each person on any vessel operating in the open sea. The PFD 1 is commonly called a lifejacket. It has a high collar which is designed to float an unconscious person face up, so they can breathe. The PFD1 is a bulky item and makes any type of useful activity very difficult. In West Australia, sea kayakers have to carry the brutes, which they do by stuffing them down a hatch or tying them to the deck lines. Of course, they are thus absolutely useless in an emergency. The Letter of the Law requires a PFD 1 for sea kayaks in NSW as well, but common sense has generally prevailed here and PFD 2’s seem to be unofficially accepted. Incidentally, PFD 1’s cost from $21.50 up to above $80.00.

Most sea kayakers use either a PFD 2 or PFD 3. The 2 and 3 models are called buoyancy vests and, according to Waterways, are designed for use on protected inland waters. However, they allow jet skiers to use a PFD 2 offshore. The NSWSKC is lobbying to have the same exemption officially applied to kayaks. In order to be effective, the PFD 2 requires that the wearer be awake and mobile and able to keep upright by swimming motions. It is a big help in surf.

The PFD 3 is just like a PFD 2, except that the 3 doesn’t have a covering in the officially approved colours, “safety orange” or “safety yellow.” Waterways says, “PFD 3’s are not recommended for general boating use because the colours are less visible in search and rescue operations.” In addition, “To be acceptable by Waterways, the PFD must be designed and manufactured in accordance with Standards Australia specifications and bear the appropriate stamp of that organisation.”

So, what should sea kayakers use? The OSD actually recently bought a snappy blue PFD 3 to replace his ancient PFD which may once have been “safety yellow” but which had faded to unsafe, dirty gray over the years. The reason he bought a PFD 3 instead of a PFD 2 had more to do with fit than colour.

Fit is an all important consideration for paddlers. Often a PFD feels good in the shop, but chafes badly under the arms once on the water when the spray deck pushes the PFD upwards into the arm pits. Most PFD’s are made with arm holes which are far too small for active kayak paddling. The arm holes can be enlarged, but it is better to spend a few more bucks and get a PFD which is specifically suited to paddling.

One good design, made by ULTRA, has triangular flotation cells front and rear which leave a great deal of room for the arms. The model is called “The Edge” and is elegantly simple with few straps and buckles. It is pulled over the head to wear and costs $115. ULTRA (An Australian firm which has it’s factory in Fiji) is coming out with a new model called “The Pinnacle” in March. It will have a side entry, neoprene waist, open mesh front pocket, adjustable shoulder straps and a whistle holder and will sell for $119. This is about $20 to $30 more than the average PFD 2 or 3, but the extra expense is worth it in comfort. ULTRA PFD’s are rated as 3, but come in orange and yellow colours which are as visible as the officially sanctioned hues.

For the ultimate in comfort and compliance with regulations, inflatable PFD 1’s are available. They can be inflated either by pulling a lanyard attached to a CO2 cartridge, or, alternatively, by allowing the PFD to self inflate through contact with sea water. The second option would be of little value to the average spray-soaked sea kayaker. These inflatables might be convenient, but the price of $190 is daunting.

The chronically impoverished OSD is leaning in the direction of the ULTRA Pinnacle, in spite of the cost and the fact that he just bought another PFD 3. After all, at his age, he deserves the most user-friendly gear he can find.

Happy floating!

(I recommend paddlers go into their nearest waterways office and get a free copy of the “NSW Safe Boating Handbook”. Its got some useful information in it – Ed)

The Long Story of a Relatively Short Paddle with the Famous and Controversial Laurie Ford [33]

By Arunas Pilka

Things got off to a reasonably good start. John, Tim (the new Evan and almost complete novice to sea paddling) and I had arrived at the Eden dock only about 90 seconds after the 12.00 noon meeting time, this was enough to earn the mild opprobrium of Mr Ford who had already gone for a paddle to test some repairs he had made to his rudder, was packed and ready to go. John and Laurie set off to do the car shuffle leaving Tim & myself to pack our boats and John’s so that we could get away as soon as Laurie & John returned. I patiently explained to Tim as he packed John’s boat that it was essential to get all the really heavy things as far forward as possible as this would enhance the boat’s handling in the advent of following seas or surf landings. Tim ignored my advice and John insisted on virtually repacking his boat when he got back anyway, so much for trust.

We got away at about 3.00 pm for the short paddle to Mowarry Point. Despite a SW wind of about 10 knots Laurie & John managed to get some sailing in and we arrived at Mowarry Point at about 4.30 pm. After pitching camp Laurie spotted some whales frolicking off the point and he and John paddled off after them, Tim & I watched from the Headland.

Day two dawned clear & bright with light wind from the South West. We stopped for a quick break at Bitangabee Bay then made our way to the tip of Greencape where we chanced upon a pack sea lions sleeping with 1 flipper in the air. As we approached they stirred and then out of curiosity followed us for a short distance while frolicking about the kayaks.

From Greencape I was in favour of heading straight across disaster Bay for Merica River. Laurie however said that paddling way off shore was boring and he wanted to explore the southern side of Greencape. It was a lovely day, the wind had dropped almost to dead calm and we were in no hurry so it was decided to go to Womboyn Lake for lunch. Just as we got there a big South Easterly blew up. The surf on the bar was only about a metre but Tim managed to get tipped out and swam to shore. We found a sheltered spot inside the lake for lunch and by the time we left the wind had kicked up waves of at least two metres. Laurie who had not bothered with lunch, eating every day not being necessary let alone three times a day!, was out past the breakers already as Tim and I set out right next to each other with John close behind. It seems the set of the day arrived as Tim and I were almost out, I dug in hard and just made it over a large wave about to break then looked across to Tim to say that it was lucky we managed to get through and that John would probably get creamed by that one, trouble was Tim wasn’t there. Fortunately John had seen it coming and had backed off affording himself a good view of Tim getting surfed backward and going for his second swim.

Tim managed to get out on his second attempt and we had a pretty hard slog into the wind to get to Merica River. Dirk Stuber who had driven down from Wollongong that morning and had gotten the Womboyn shopkeeper to drop him off at the southern end of the beach in order to avoid the bar joined us just as we arrived. We got mussels and oysters off the rocks for hors d’oeuvres but Laurie wouldn’t eat any. He reckons that anything but white bread, hamburgers, meat pies and Sao biscuits with peanut butter is junk food and that there is no proven need to eat vegetables or to get vitamin C. It seems to work for him.

The next day the wind had shifted to the south but was still blowing at about 25-30kn, the forecast was for easing winds so we decided to delay our departure to about 10 am, if anything the wind strengthened. As we left Dave and Ron arrived. They had spent the night at Bitangabee Bay and had had to slog all the way across Disaster Bay into the wind. No problem for Dave but Ron hasn’t done a lot of paddling lately and apparently was pretty shot. We probably should have gone back into Merica to give him a rest but he said he was OK and we pressed on. Paddling into the wind the group spread out somewhat with Dave and Dirk out front Tim and me not far behind and Laurie, John and Ron a couple of hundred metres behind us.. The four of us got to the southern end of Newtons beach and waited for the others in the lee of the headland. When they arrived instead of paddling up to where we were they headed for the beach. We had hardly been paddling for an hour and it was a bit early for lunch for us so Tim went back to tell them that we would go on ahead and that we would meet them at Nadgee Lake. By the time we got to Nadgee River and Tim wanted a break so we decided that Dirk would stop with him and Dave and I would go onto the lake. Dirk and Tim arrived at the campsite as Dave and I were starting to set up camp. After we got the tents up we had lunch then went for a walk back towards Nadgee River. Ron and John arrived just as we got back, without Laurie!

Apparently Laurie had been really upset when he got to Newtons beach and stormed of up the beach for about an hour. It turns out he was really angry over the group spreading out the way it did and in particular that when they went to the beach we did not go back to them. About half an hour after they got under way again he paddled up to John and asked him if they would be alight to go on without him, when they said yes he turned around and headed back to Eden with the parting words of “worst group management I have ever seen”

That night the wind dropped but by the time we got away the breeze was picking up from the west, we paddled to Gabo, into another howling headwind from Cape Howe on (the caretaker’s wife at the lighthouse said the wind was gusting to 37kn). Despite the fact that there is no camping on Gabo the caretaker wasn’t going to throw us off with the weather the way it was so we set up camp on the lush green grass near the jetty. For dinner that night John and I found some abalone and dirk speared a few fish, after dinner we settled down to watch the penguin parade (Gabo Island is the largest Little Penguin Rookery in the world according to the caretaker).

Once again that night the wind dropped so the next morning we got away at 5am to beat the wind into Malacoota, we needn’t have worried it turned out to be relatively calm the whole day. We arrived just before the bakery opened for breakfast then spent the day lazing around in Malacoota and surfing on the bar.

John had picked up a tick on his wrist back at Nadgee Lake and it was getting pretty swollen. I had some anti-histamine tablets but the cardboard box they came in was long gone. John had taken one the previous morning but it seemed to be having little effect. On arriving at Malacoota John asked me what the recommended dosage was, I couldn’t remember but said that it was probably 2 or 3 every couple of hours. John took my advice and ended up a zombie for the rest of the day. He vows never to forgive me for trying to poison him.

Tim had become thoroughly enthused about sea kayaking. Dirk swooped on the opportunity to sell him his much loved (almost to death) Arctic Raider. Just like the proverbial seagull on a sick prawn. The next day we headed home with one more boat than we started out with.

PS: One of the old lighthouse keepers houses on Gabo is available for accommodation at a rate of $80.00 per night and sleeps 8 people.


Over the years, from John Wilde and others I have heard stories of the exploits of Laurie Ford, as a result I hold a great deal of admiration for his capabilities as a sea canoeist and was eagerly looking forward to paddling with him. I have also been aware of his reputation for controversy and conflict to the extent that I was surprised when I met him to find that he was quite amiable and communicative. His decision to abandon the trip the way he did does however confirm that reputation.

He obviously holds strong views and is not afraid to express them, something I find admirable even if I will not always agree with him. He has expressed those views in regard to this trip on his web site and I encourage members with access to check it out at http://www.tassie.net.au/~lford/philos.htm. There is however more than one side to any story and I would like to take the opportunity to put my side of it.

The issue of group spread is a thorny one and causes consternation in every club, group of paddlers and every sea kayaking publication that I have come across. It is easy to take the high moral ground and insist that a group never be out of voice communication range at any time or every 20 minutes or whatever, but the reality is that people paddle at differing speeds (even more so into a headwind) and it is better in my view to recognise this and deal with it rather than impose an unrealistic model that leads to frustration and ultimately in it being ignored.

This trip was not really a club trip, excluding Tim every member was either an instructor or a senior instructor. Most more experienced paddlers in the club feel an obligation towards less experienced paddlers and this is especially true for instructors. The obligation to “nursemaid beginners” is a bit tedious after a while and this trip with a highly experienced group was to be a bit of a holiday from that obligation.

On the day in question we split into 3 groups, Dave and Dirk out front paddling strongly and obviously capable of looking after themselves, Tim and myself, I felt an obligation to look after Tim as the only novice but he was paddling at a comfortable pace so that wasn’t a problem and Laurie, John and Ron behind us, if you can’t leave two senior instructors and an instructor on their own for an hour then good grief. This to my way of thinking is the realistic way of dealing with group spread, let the group split into self contained sub groups that can look after themselves while always being aware of who is in each group and where they are then stop regularly say each hour for a break and regroup. Laurie in his home page says “The single biggest crime you can commit is to leave a paddler on their own.” I tend to agree unless you have mutually decided to do so and in this case as far as I was concerned this did not happen, Ron was in the capable hands of two senior instructors.

To support his argument Laurie recounts the story of a friend that was suddenly struck by a rare debilitating medical condition that rendered him incapacitated while paddling on his own behind the group “when I looked round I saw Jeff way behind” and was only saved because “Just out of sheer instinct I stopped to wait for him,” (the chronology of this is as per the text of Laurie’s home page). If the single biggest crime you can commit is to leave a paddler on their own then surely he has committed it. I point this out not to be judgemental (I wasn’t there, know to little of the detail and wouldn’t presume to) but to highlight the fact that it is easy if one is trying to find fault in another to apply unrealistic standards and then not apply those standards to oneself.

Laurie also makes much of the fact that we did not land with him, John and Ron at Newtons Beach “John wanted to go along to the next point where the others were resting and waiting, to tell them, but I suggested that this was unnecessary as they would see us go ashore and follow us in. Imagine my absolute disgust to see this group watch us land and then race off down the coast as fast as they could,” This is only partially true and the and the omitted detail leads to an extremely false impression. The way I saw the incident is this. We stopped in the lee of the point to the south of Newtons Beach and waited for the others. They paddled to a spot just off the beach and about 150m to 200m away from where we were. We were somewhat mystified as to why they didn’t paddle up to where we were as they had been paddling normally and there seemed to be no alarm, we decided that perhaps they wanted to stop early for lunch. We felt that it was to early for lunch and Tim who thought his lunch was in John’s boat paddled back to where they were to confer. He came back saying that Ron was feeling tired and that they were going to stop for lunch to give him a rest and would meet us at the campsite. If I’m to be believed that puts quite a different slant on it, as far as I was concerned we had split the group by mutual consent.

I take further issue with some other things on Laurie’s home page but will leave those for another time. The upshot of the whole thing is that during the entire trip no one was put in any unnecessary danger and on that I rest my case. Again I urge you all to check out his web site for his side of the story and I only regret that this incident has resulted in some animosity between old friends, that I did not get to know Laurie better and that he missed out on the second half of what could have been a very pleasant trip.

Hypothermia in the Hawkesbury Classic [33]

By Don Andrews

My general fitness is good and my regular training routine consists of a 12 km training paddle mid week and a 12 km race on Sundays, with increased training for longer or important races. I train and race in a 22 ft. Rocket most of the time, with some training in a K1 and some in a sea kayak.

Don Andrews in his own design – the Pacific Tourer

For this race my training started on September 12th with an 8 day paddle from Mackay to Airlie Beach via Brampton and Border Islands averaging 30 km per day, in a fully loaded Pacific Tourer sea kayak, in 20 knots of wind, up to 2 metre waves and tidal races. The Pacific Tourer handled it well. Most days were hard work outs against the tide.

On September 27th I paddled 26 km. in the Penrith Marathon on a hot day in a Rocket. My heart rate at the start was 155 with an average of 140 for most of the race finishing with 135. For the next three weeks I trained twice a week and raced on Sundays, a 12 km and 20 km race. In the 12 km. race my heart rate was 160 to 150 for the whole race, and in the 20 km. race the first lap was at 160 to 150, the next a planned 140.

The week leading up to the Hawkesbury I went off alcohol and carbo loaded on Maxim at the recommended dosage. I practiced mind power. I could visualise myself at Brooklyn winning the race. I started using mind power 4 years ago after a serious vehicle accident. I used it to win the sea kayak section of the Murray Marathon, and last year’s Hawkesbury Classic.

On the day of the race I was my normal uptight nervous self. Registration, scrutineering and my stretching all went O.K. I had entered the Pacific Tourer in the Long Recreational Class using a small bladed paddle. I had 4 litres of water litres and 2 litres of Maxim flavoured with Isosports and wore a long sleeve thermal, paddling shorts and a hat, the same as last year. I had no spray skirt as my boat is fitted with a foot pump. I had a light short sleeve nylon jacket in the cockpit. In the rear tank I had a heavy jacket, a cap and an emergency bivvy bag. I am a Level 1 Coach and a trainee Sea Kayak Instructor. I have a First Aid Certificate and I’ve given 10 minute talks on hypothermia.

The gun went off at 4.45 pm and I lead from the first bridge to the finish. I had two HRMs, one on the deck with a light, and the other on my wrist, with the alarm set at 130 to 150. At the bridge I had a heart rate of 155 For the next five kms 145, and for next 10 138. I was drinking water and some Maxim. It was hot most of the time. From Spencer to Dargle I was cold. I was drinking water and more Maxim. My heart rate was 130-135 relying on the alarm as it was so dark and I was worried the light from the HRM would interfere with my night vision.

From Dargle on ,the HRM alarm was on most of the time. I guess my heart rate was 125. I was cold but I was not worried about it. I was against the tide, boat speed was O.K., my heart rate was low and I could not get it above 130. Five kms from Wiseman’s Ferry two double sea kayaks passed me. I was on their wash for 2 kms. The alarm went off so I guess I was doing about 135. Coming into Wisemans I was not feeling well. I was nauseous, I was drinking water but could not drink Maxim.

When I got out of the boat I was shivering violently. I did not feel cold but I put on another thermal and a light weight jacket. My land crew gave me my times. I was doing better than my estimated time at Dargle, and still on time. I was told everybody was having trouble with the tide. I had used 3 litres of water and 1 litre of Maxim. We put a fresh 4 litres of water on board and turned on the light on the deck HRM, and turned the alarm off on the other. I was out of the boat for 5 minutes. I was feeling better, I was still leading, I felt warmer and on time to do the 10 hours I had planned.

After leaving Wisemans I was still against the tide, I had forgotten my hat, my heart rate was 125 and dropping. At the tide change at Check Point K, my heart rate was 115. I was forcing myself to drink water, I was feeling sick with stomach pains and pain from the kidney area. I was burping wind and I had doubts about finishing. I started using mind power – I never pull out, the pain is O.K., the tide is with me and you never pull out at Spencer.I thought I would never get to Spencer. The wind was cold and against me, the water was getting rough and my balance was not good. My paddle went under the boat twice and I nearly capsized. My heart rate was down to 105 at Spencer. My boat speed seemed to be O.K., the tide was moving me along, I had made the decision I was going to finish and win. I was now worried they would catch me. I tried to increase my speed. My heart rate was 100 and with the increased effort it went up to 110 and then down to 98. I felt like going to sleep my head was aching from the cold. My legs, arms and body did not seem to be cold. I was forcing the water down but still feeling sick, pain in the stomach, back and bottom. The only thing normal was the sore bottom. I should have been worried with a heart rate of 100 and my eyes closing but my only worry was that they would catch me. I could not look behind as my balance had gone.

I had finished and won. I did not know my time. I think it was about 10 hrs. 17 minutes. I had used a total of 6 litres of water and l litre of Maxim. I walked to the car and changed in to dry clothes. I did not feel cold, just sick. When I got home I was freezing and even in a hot shower it took 30 minutes to warm up. My back and forearm was sore. On Sunday I felt better, my muscles felt good apart from normal soreness you would expect from paddling 111 km. I was worried about my experience with low heart rate so I looked up the first aid book which indicated hypothermia. How dangerous it is you do not know.

In retrospect I should have stopped when the sun went down and put my jacket on. After Wisemans, I should have stopped and put my spare cap on. Maybe I should have been stopped at Wisemans from continuing, or retired at Spencer. But I am O.K. now and I won and beat the record in a time of 10 hrs. 15 minutes.

Hypothermia is dangerous and maybe even more so when combined with mind power.

Rock’n’Roll Highlights [33]

Photos by Jan Murrell, story by a Correspondent

Paddling Blues

Terry Prosser’s Paddling Technique session drew a large gathering eager to learn from a leading sprint paddling coach. Terry was blunt in his assessment of what constituted a good paddle; propeller blades were infinitely more efficient that ‘flats’, short shafts were preferable, and unfeathered paddles, well…. the serious paddler wouldn’t even think about one! Not surprisingly, depression descended upon those watching who were clutching long, unfeathered flat-bladed paddles.

But there was more to come. Despite some knowledgable heckling from Laurie Ford, Terry argued forcibly that a ‘high’ power style was not a liability in strong cross winds and that the ‘low’ sea-paddler’s technique in this situation was unnecessary. Terry then rubbed more salt into sea-paddlers wounds by stating that his young charges, atop their magnificent K1’s, could handle strong cross winds, heavy seas, everything…!

As the gloomy crowd dispersed there were mixed feelings; some cursing the day they had ever heard the name ‘Terry Prosser’, others wondering why on earth they had purchased heavy, ponderous sea kayaks when it appeared that K1’s could do the job just as well and twice as fast! Summing up the feelings of many, one prominent club official was heard to say “maybe bloody Jim Croft isn’t mad after all!”

Yacht’s Not

A large crowd gathered along the rock platforms of Jervis Bay to witness six hopeful kayaks line up for the inaugural running of the Mini-America’s Cup. All the boats were equipped with deck-mounted sailing rigs, with the exception of one ‘joke’ entrant, a shy but charismatic stranger by the name of John, who boasted nothing but a large hand-held umbrella. The course was a simple one; the fleet would run northwest, around the ‘buoy’ (Andrew Eddy’s precisely positioned Arctic Raider) and then head north east to finish at the entrance of Honeymoon Bay.

The starting gun sounded, the crowd roared, and the sailors feverishly began the task of assembling their rigs – the first competitor to reach full erection having an obvious advantage! But skulduggery was afoot! Mark Pearson, brashly over-confident before the race, found his control line had been sabotaged. Unsure of who had been the culprit (but was that a knowing smirk on Doug Fraser’s face?), the furious ex-Editor let fly a tirade of abuse in the general direction of his competitors, only ceasing when they were out of earshot. In the end coming last was just too much for Mark so he took a short cut and bypassed the last marker.

John Foley and his almost-winning rig

Within minutes it became obvious that the impossible was happening. Much to the crowd’s delight, John’s kayak, it’s umbrella proudly held aloft and pointing the way, had hit the front, cheekily pulling away from the grim-faced John Wilde and his $2,000 NASA-designed kevlar/carbon Wing Sail. Further back, old-salt Norm Sanders had his gaff-rigged Classic moving well but not yet challenging the surprise leader. Surprisingly, Doug Fraser’s much vaunted Pittarak was at this stage wallowing pathetically and running second from last!

But were was the marker buoy? As the fleet approached the half way mark there was still no sign of the usually reliable Mr Eddy. A minute later a cry rang out as his cleverly camouflaged green Arctic Raider was sighted some 500 metres north of the correct position (“how was I to know that wind causes drift?” excused the Advanced Proficiency qualified Mr Eddy at the race de-briefing). However, Mr Eddy’s shocking lapse was greeted with relief by the red-faced hi-tech boats – the second leg would now require the field to track directly east across wind to finish inside Honeymoon Bay, conditions known not to favour umbrella-powered kayaks!

And so it proved. The mood of the crowd changed to disappointment as slowly but the surely the grim-faced John Wilde, the slick Norm Sanders and the smirking Doug Fraser overhauled the plucky umbrella hero.

John Wilde and his winning rig

Some minutes later it was all over. Screaming “aaahh’m the Man, aaaah’m the Man” and High-Fiving everyone in reach, John Wilde cruised into Honeymoon Bay for Line Honours to deafening jeers. Next came Doug Fraser, who, having somehow willed his mediocre Pittarak past President Sanders, chose to celebrate second placing by making obscene gestures to the hostile crowd. Blown off course, poor John the Umbrella Man was forced to cross the line under hand-paddling power and was reluctantly disqualified by the Judging Panel.

But then more controversy. The frenzied and distasteful celebrations of Wilde and Fraser were short lived when they were quietly informed of Race Rule 45 b)i), “at race end, all competitors must be able to complete a full eskimo roll with sailing rig in upright position”.

Competitors and the errant marker buoy

Again grim-faced with concentration, the macho pair dutifully capsized but, to the crowd’s delight, failed miserably to right their kayaks. They surfaced, bedraggled, noses streaming and clinging miserably to their upturned vessels – their only hope now a similar failure by the third-placed Sanders. But our wily President, as always seizing his chance to both humiliate others and gain personal glory in front of an audience, performed a perfect Pawlata to win the magnificent First Prize – a jumbo-size Greg Norman Golf Umbrella!

Propeller Repeller

Following the Terry Prosser session, those paddlers equipped with ‘propeller’ paddlers could be seen licking their collective lips at the thought of taking on the antiquated ‘flats’ in a true test of blade efficiency – the inaugural Tug of War! But the ladies event didn’t quite go as expected – the crowd were stunned into silence as the powerfully-built and propeller-bladed Jeanette Mill was towed backwards by flat-bladed and lighter opponents in consecutive match-ups. The ladies event eventually going to the energetic and anatomically correct Margie.

In fact, so complete was poor Ms Mill’s humiliation, the administrators were kept busy re-drafting the men’s competition as hordes of ‘propeller-bladers’, desperate to protect their fragile ego’s, withdrew from the event! In the wash-up, an entertaining and hard fought men’s competition was won by Matt (Horse Power) Turner with a very large flat-bladed paddle.

Footnote; In moments of high drama before the event, punters favourites David Winkworth and Arunas Pilka refused to compete after organisers failed to meet their demands for ‘appearance fees’.

Cut and Thrust!

Despite the Figurehead Race being billed as a race displaying female figureheads, the race start saw menfolk of various sizes draped unflatteringly over the bows, their shapely posteriors exposed to the lascivious gaze of their opportunistic female teammates. As predicted, the event was tough from the very start, with obvious heavy contact and verbal sledging as the six kayaks sped out towards the marker buoy. The turn round the marker was particularly rugged, with several kayaks colliding and a male rider injured. He later reported “as we rounded the turned I felt severe pain and turned to find the sharp end of a Spectrum embedded in the back of my thigh, I pulled it out, staunched the bleeding with my hat, and told my partner to keep going ….”. This team (led by Jeannette Mill) went on to win the event in a tight finish. The Spectrum paddler, ‘tough as teak’ Jan Murrell, was unrepentant “OK, so the wimp got a flesh wound .. so what! He should thank his lucky stars I wasn’t paddling a Pittarak – he’s still able to have kids isn’t he…!

Turned Off

Over the weekend, many paddlers took the opportunity to paddle Dave Winkworth’s all new sea-kayak, the Gimlet. Although all agreed the boat was obviously a true ocean craft and an absolute flier, several exhausted test-paddlers had to be carried back to their tents after attempting to turn the straight-running Gimlet into the wind. Catching up with Mr Winkworth as he worked out in his personal gym, our Flotsam reporter followed up on the story.

“Look, that’s utter bullshit”, grunted a pumped-up and sweaty Mr Winkworth, “with the correct technique and body position the Gimlet will turn beautifully and with hardly any effort at all! Believe me, strength has got nothing to do with it, those blokes just didn’t know how to paddle her ….. now pass me that 100kg dumbbell would you …”