Training Notes [48]

By Andrew Eddy

The New ACI Award System

On 01 January 2002, the new Australian Canoeing Inc (ACI) award system came into effect. ACI has had a paddling skills and instructor award scheme in place for decades.

ACI places itself as the ‘peak body’ in canoeing in Australia and organises the majority of competition canoeing. In the face of growing commercial activity in canoeing and kayaking (and rafting, too), ACI has revamped its award scheme for skills, instruction, guiding, coaching and officiating, to bring the award scheme into line with the competency-based training methods of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) scheme.

Most members will not notice much difference between the old scheme and the new. The most obvious difference will be that the old Sea Proficiency award becomes Sea Skills 2 and Sea Rescue 2. The requirements of the new awards have not yet been published by ACI, but they should be very similar to (even indistinguishable from) the requirements of the old scheme. Rightly or wrongly, these are still lifetime awards, hence the need for continual self-assessment, as set out in our grading system at the back of each magazine.

At ACI’s annual general meeting, their board voted an extension to volunteer clubs, allowing clubs like ours to continue implementing the old award scheme until the middle of the year. Last year we had a memorandum of understanding with ACI and the committee hopes to gain an extension on that MOU until the middle of the year. The NSWSKC will continue to hold Sea Proficiency assessments for as long as we can, until we can offer the new awards.

A greater impact on the Club of the new scheme is in the training and accreditation of new Instructors and Assessors. In the new scheme, this will be a far more complex and costly process, both for new Instructors and for the re-certification of current Instructors when they fall due. Several of the Club’s Examiners have already done some of the courses and paperwork to move into the new scheme as Assessors.

By far the greatest impact on the Club will be the bureaucracy of the new scheme. Since the new scheme is a VET scheme, like TAFE courses, ACI will not be running it directly. Instead, the scheme will be run through Registered Training Organisations and National Training Providers. The cost and complexity of becoming an RTO is beyond volunteer clubs and is really only practical for commercial training organizations or large clubs with strong commercial aspirations, with their investment in office staff and record-keeping. We must, therefore, ‘form an alliance’ with a suitable National Training Provider.

In order for the NSW Sea Kayak Club to continue to provide training and assessment, of a quality endorsed by the ‘peak body’ of canoeing in Australia, the committee is committed to following the twists and turns of the new scheme, unless it either becomes too expensive or too difficult to continue.

For all our sakes, wish us luck!

The Tenth Annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend

The Club held its tenth annual Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend at Batemans Bay in November. In order to prevent some of the problems encountered at the previous Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend, and to smooth the organisation and timetable of the weekend, we brought in a pre-registration system for paddlers wishing to attend and registration and class-size limits for on-the-water class sessions. Pre-registrations came from interstate paddlers and from as far away as Holland!

All of the feedback suggests that the hard work of the formal organisation paid off. Everyone seems to have been able to do most of the things they wanted, both on-land sessions and on-water.

We held almost-continuous training in rolling throughout the weekend, and parallel sessions in all of the required paddling skills and rescue skills for grade 2 paddlers. In addition, there were several novelty events, including a novelty handicap race and a rolling display by two Club experts followed by a rolling competition. Throughout the weekend and on the Monday, there were also half-day and day trips to various points around the Bay and out to the Tollgate Islands.

On the land, there were class sessions on injury prevention, boat fit-out, forward paddling techniques, kayak sails, and building a wooden sea kayak. In addition, there were slide and video presentations and a marquee with several retail exhibitors.

Over a quarter of the 117 registered attendees were also volunteers helping in one or more sessions. All of the on-water sessions were limited in class size by the number of available qualified Instructors, and the non-instructor volunteers were essential to keep up the momentum in these sessions. Many thanks go to all the volunteers who contributed to the weekend.

The NSWSKC has made a lasting good impression with the local authorities and businesses. This will stand us in good stead for any further training weekends in the area.

For those members who missed the weekend, you missed a good one! There will be further training opportunities during the year. Keep an eye out on the magazine and the Club’s web site at

The 2002 Trip Leader’s Training Course

Early last year, new Club policy restricted listing and leadership of Club trips to members with the Trip Leader’s Training Course and ACI Sea Proficiency. Following on the success of the 2000 and 2001 TLTC, the NSWSKC will hold another Trip Leader’s Training Course on one weekend early this year. The location will be on the South Coast within easy reach of Sydney. See the trips calendar for date and contact details.

It is unlikely that we will be able to arrange the same level of luxurious accommodation as the last TLTC, but we will try!

The aim of the course will be to give proficient paddlers the knowledge and skills to lead groups of peers on enclosed and open waters. The course will be run as a series of presentations on the core skills, with each presentation followed by workshops to practice the skills. There will be day trips to put the combined skills into use with real groups on the water. The weekend will end with a written test. The course will be offered at cost.

The course is open to NSWSKC members who have their ACI Sea Proficiency (or the new ACI Sea Skills 2/Sea Rescue 2), and to members who aim to achieve these skills qualifications soon.

Special Grade 2 Trip Leadership

At a committee meeting on 03 January 2002, the committee voted unanimously for a six-month trial to extend trip leadership approval to some members who are currently self-assessed at grade 2. Such paddlers will need to:

  • demonstrate a certain set of seamanship and paddling skills (including a rapid self-rescue) to a Club Assessor;
  • attend and pass the Trip Leader’s Training Course;
  • be recommended to, and ratified by, the committee.

Ratification will last up to a year. During this time, they will be approved to lead trips of grade 2 paddlers in enclosed waters only.

The expectation is that these paddlers will continue to build their skills towards Sea Proficiency, and once this is attained, then be able to lead Club trips without restrictions.