Flotsam [66]

Due to defamation proceedings brought about by the “Enemies of Flotsam” coalition, the Issue 65 edition of Flotsam was unable to be published. However, with all legal matters now resolved, Flotsam is proud to print these articles, uncensored, for the information of members and guests.

From Issue 65 — President slips up on “let them eat cake” comment

In yet another bad day for President Elizabeth Thomson in what is becoming a troubled second term, the President’s fruit eating preference has now caused a furore. After two large bananas were observed in Ms Thomson’s car at a recent club get together, a fellow paddler commented she must be doing all right if she could afford such a quantity of the rare fruit, to which the President replied, “Why, have they gone up?”

Potential 2007 Presidential challenger Trevor Gardiner seized on the gaffe, contacting Flotsam to declare, “This is incontrovertible evidence that President Thomson, with her home-delivered kayaking cuisine, has simply lost touch with the membership. There are hundreds of paddling battlers out there who face a daily struggle to put even one small banana under their deck netting..!”

The savvy Gardner went on to say that under his Presidency the Club’s “massive surplus” would be used to “subsidise vital energy food such as bananas.”

Meanwhile, President Thomson stocks continue to fall in the latest Flotsam poll, with an approval rating of only 39 per cent, down 4 points since October 2006.

From Issue 65 — Croc Hunter vacancy inspires club applicants

Following the tragic death of TV personality Steve Irwin, Flotsam has learned that three NSWSKC members have applied for the vacant position of Crocodile Hunter.

A Crocodile Hunter selection panellist has confirmed that Club paddlers Arunas Pilka, Dave Winkworth and Stuart Truman have all claimed that they have the experience and personality to be the new “wildlife warrior” and, in a rare scoop, even released some details of the selection panel’s deliberations to Flotsam.

The source indicated that Pilka, famous for being attacked by a large croc in FNQ in 1999, and Winkworth, who wrestled the same reptile off his friend, had put in strong claims for the position. But Truman’s application was seen as the weakest of the three, his major achievement being to clumsily stand on and get stung by a stingray while walking his kayak in shallows.

With applicants also encouraged to provide a “catchcry” similar to Irwin’s “Crikey!” that could be uttered in stressful or high risk circumstances during the show, Pilka apparently has gone for a heartfelt “aaaarrrgghhhh” in respect of the moment of his 1999 attack. However, Winkworth’s proposed catchcry, also based on the Pilka incident, of “I’ve got ya mate, I’ve got ya” was thought to be too “personal”, and Truman’s effort of “fookin’ ‘ell, fookin’ ‘ell!” was considered to be highly inappropriate for the largely US “Bible belt” Crocodile Hunter demographic.

The successful applicant will be notified in April 2007.

New Sticker excites Sydney paddlers

It seems that a simple car sticker has become the new “must have” accessory for many Club paddlers, with large bright yellow “Mirage on Board!” stickers now regularly seen on rear windscreens in Sydney’s harbour suburbs.

The brains behind the idea, wealthy entrepreneur and Mirage 580 paddler Andrew Watkinson, told Flotsam “Well, before Christmas I was relaxing in my spa with several girlfriends thinking about the heavy Sydney traffic. Then I thought about those ‘Baby on Board’ stickers and how good it would be to have something to protect our beautiful Mirage babies!!”

Advertising the stickers at an introductory price of $19.95 on the Club website, Mr Watkinson said “it was fantastic, I sold out the initial batch of 100 in just 24 hours, so obviously there was quite a pent up demand for this simple and cheap protection!”

Mr Watkinson added that he was now working on a design for a “Mirage Afloat” sticker which will be sold in pairs to mount front and rear on Mirage decking “which will hopefully get Nadgees, Pittaraks and the like to take care when near us on the water.”

Design squabble masks personal tensions

A very personal design origin furor has broken out within the club following Andrew Janecki’s recent marketing of his “Telescopic” sail in Issue 65. With many in the Club thinking that the telescopic mast is a new concept, it now appears the idea may have originated from undistinguished club member Mark Pearson! A furious Pearson has lodged a complaint with the NSWSKC Patent Protection Board, apparently declaring that he patented an “Extendamast” device in 1996 and that Janecki’s product was merely a development of his design.

With the reclusive Pearson refusing to talk to Flotsam, long term paddling colleague David Whyte confirmed that Pearson did indeed build an extendable mast in the mid 90’s. David told Flotsam “As far as I remember it was just a piece of old fishing pole, slotted inside a standard aluminium mast, with a spring clip.” David continued, “but it really was ordinary … used to take him about 30 minutes to get it up and working, by which time we were long gone. In comparison, I’d have to say that Andre’s really is a beautiful piece of work.”

Following legal advice, Mr Janecki also refused to talk directly with Flotsam. But the Polish genius inferred there may be other more complex and personal reasons behind the complaint, releasing a statement declaring, “This problem is not to do with sails or masts or anything like that. Mr Pearson is just jealous that I, Andre Janecki, and not his miserable self, will marry the lovely Catherine.”

Dear Flotsam Guru

I have a problem with “proximity” on beach landings. Whenever I land on a beach, there is always some character in the group who tries to land approximately two metres left or right of my position. The person then, of course, gets broached on a wave, and bears down uncontrollably on my vulnerable kayak. Last week it happened again when I was a victim of a rampant Mike Snoad landing and lost yet another chunk of fibreglass! I’ve had enough of this… please help!

(The) John Wilde
Narrabundah, ACT

Guru — yes Mr Wilde, we’ve all lost chunks of our boats to these “Proximity Pests”. In fact, according to the Flotsam Archive, 65 per cent of all “boat to boat” contact in the last 10 years has occurred in the precise scenario you complain about.

So what to do about it? Firstly it is important to understand the phenomena. Beach landings normally occur after a long period on the water where, with traditional NSWSKC group spread, many paddlers have been paddling alone out there for some time. With this sense of isolation the human tribal instinct comes to the fore, and during a beach landing process the primal need to be back with the group (meaning about two metres from your stationary kayak!) is at its peak. To make matters worse the landing paddler may also want to come ashore right beside you to demonstrate his/her slick stern ruddering technique to a “captive audience”.

So what to do? The only sure-fire technique is to adopt a behaviour that not only breaks these tribal instincts, but actually triggers subconscious aversion responses in your companions. There are at least three options, all pioneered by the deep thinkers in our great Club.

1. The Traffic Cop

On landing leap quickly from your kayak. Then adopt an officious posture while waving your arms with authority directing other kayaks exactly to your position. This unexpected controlling behaviour usually triggers the very powerful sea paddlers “don’t tell me where to land” response, and most will immediately alter course and make landfall at least 50 metres away on THEIR chosen piece of sand. The Traffic Cop has been developed to a fine art by Andrew Eddy. 70 per cent successful.

Drawback: Totally ineffective on very new club members who still like to be told what to do.

2. The Weird Technique

The Weird technique involves gracefully stepping out of your kayak and immediately adopting alternative radical yoga or tai chi positions with such intensity that most sea kayakers will feel uncomfortable about intruding on your personal Down Dog or Zen experience. This technique was pioneered by Nick Gill in 2001 in an effort to protect his new Nadgee from rough Pittaraks and heavy Greenlanders. 80 per cent successful.

Drawback: May actually attract other yoga/tai chi aficionados paddling rough Pittaraks and heavy Greenlanders!

3. The Amoebic Dysentery Technique

Before landing, simply tell your co-paddlers that your bowels are playing up something rotten, adding that you have colorectal polyps and chronic faecal incontinence thanks to a trekking holiday in Mozambique in 1982. Then paddle vigorously to shore without further communication. In the rare event of a paddler following you in, simply adopt a self conscious facial expression and a deep squatting position adjacent to your kayak. Perfected by Arunas Pilka, this technique is 100 per cent effective.

Drawbacks: Takes confidence to perform on busy Sydney beaches.

So there you have it, three proven different techniques to protect you kayak when it’s at its most vulnerable … participating in a NSWSKC paddle!

Got an awkward problem related to sea kayaking? Never fear, the Flotsam Guru has the answers! Simply Email: Flotsamguru@nswseakayaker.assn.au

Australian Canoeing Moves On Club Weekend — A special Flotsam Report

There were rowdy scenes at the Club’s Double Bay Executive Suites last Friday as placard-waving club members protested against a leaked report that Australian Canoeing (AC) is to “take over” the running of the Rock n Roll Weekend. Police were called but although there were minor scuffles there were no arrests.

A smiling Club President Elizabeth Thomson, flanked by her Executive and AC minders appeared briefly on the upper sundeck to read from a prepared statement but did not take questions from the assembled media.

In what is being seen as the biggest shake-up to the Club’s premier fundraising weekend since 2001, AC has invoked a little known clause in its insurance agreement with the Club to seize control of the hallowed weekend event.

Industry observers see this move as a positive attempt by AC to deflect criticism of its inept management of two recent world championship kayaking events, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an upward spiral of debt. AC is being bailed out of its financial predicament by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) which has imposed strict conditions on the peak paddling organisation.

One of these conditions is the appointment of Mr Trevor Flugge as AC / NSWSKC Liaison Officer for the running of the 2007 RnR Weekend.

Flotsam sought and was granted an interview with Mr Flugge following the RnR Weekend announcement. A transcript of the interview appears below. It is also podcast on the Club website at: nswseakayaker.asn.au/flotsam

FLOTSAM: “Mr Flugge, thank you for talking to Flotsam.”

FLUGGE: “A pleasure. And may I say that I’m very happy to talk to Flotsam, which I think is the most direct way for me to talk with your Club membership…”

FLOTSAM: “Mr Flugge you obviously have quite a history with the Wheat Board. How did you come to be working for Australian Canoeing?”

FLUGGE: “Well as you would know I was a sort of Mr Fixit for the AWB, setting up deals and moving large amounts of cash here and there. Well after a bit of a holiday I find my skills are still in demand and I was snapped up by the Australian Sports Commission to fix the AC, errr…financial situation.”

FLOTSAM: “But the Rock n Roll Weekend is a long running event and virtually an institution of the Club. How is AC able to take it over?”

FLUGGE: “It’s all in the fine print of the Insurance Agreement m’boy. You blokes don’t know what you signed away, do you? I believe AC was watching your RnR event for years. Of course when I was all free it was of absolutely no interest to them, but now it’s a veritable commercial juggernaut we’ve come on board! Did you know you guys made 5000 big ones on it last year? That’s serious money for a hick-town event!”

FLOTSAM: “Doesn’t this money belong to Club members though?”

FLUGGE: “Look, let’s be cold, hard and dispassionate about this for a moment … AC needs money, your Club needs money … all that insurance, the auditors, tax advice, legal advice, the magazine, printing out thousands of waivers… it ain’t cheap! AC needs the cash and fast and with our plans, your club will do very nicely too!” Anyway, we’re all one big happy family aren’t we ..?”

FLOTSAM: “So have details of the activities for the 2007 RnR been finalised?”

FLUGGE: “As we speak m’boy … .as we speak!”

FLOTSAM: “Who are the keynote speakers?”

FLUGGE: “Well there wont be formal speakers as such, but late on Saturday night we will have a novelty event… the Laurence Geoghegan Kayak Cookery Class. I believe Laurence is making hash browns … funny, says he won’t need potatoes…”

FLOTSAM: “So what is the main event?”

FLUGGE: “Well, I can tell you we’ll have two bars… with all the best beers on tap, and fifty pokies in a super size marquee! There’ll even be an ATM for those members who need a bit of a cash top up”

FLOTSAM: “Uhhhmm, so what about daytime activities for paddlers?”

FLUGGE: “Let me see…so far we’ve got an Dry Bag Race, an Egg in Paddle race, the Dry Rolling completion … all only ten bucks to enter … “

FLOTSAM: “Dry Rolling?”

FLUGGE: “Yep, it’ll be members of the Club Executive simulating an Eskimo roll, but doing it sitting on the grass and not even in a kayak….Hilarious!! We got the idea from those “air guitar” competitions.”

FLOTSAM: “And the water based activities?”

FLUGGE: “Well … late Saturday night we’ll be getting the Sheilas up for a wet PFD competition!”

FLOTSAM: “But what about events on the water… in kayaks?”

FLUGGE: “No we’re not going there … “

FLOTSAM: “I’m sorry?”

FLUGGE: “We’re not having any on-water activities. The writing’s been on the wall for a few years now with high risk stuff like that. And besides, paddling takes members away from the pokie… err, the activity focus areas. So we’re planning to keep everyone in the venue all the time, except for an organised bus trip to a nearby fast food restaurant, an important event sponsor.”

FLOTSAM: “But no water events… whose idea was that?”

FLUGGE: “Well it was actually inspired by one of your long term members…Arunas Pilka. I believe he won your Most Unpopular Paddler Award in 2003 for leaving his kayak on the car all weekend. Most Unpopular Paddler! The guy was a visionary and I, for one, am looking forward to shaking his hand! So our message to paddlers is to leave the bloody things at home! Not only do they make club control of the event very difficult, they pollute the visual amenity of the beach.”

FLOTSAM: “Is the weekend still just for club members?”

FLUGGE: “Good Heavens no!..it’ll be open to the general public. The opening ceremony address will be given by the President of the Bateman’s Bay Chamber of Commerce. The more people the better! Jumping castle for the kiddies, merry go-rounds, something for everyone!”

FLOTSAM: “Some of the Club’s longer term members remember a much simpler and less commercial style of RnR Weekend.”

FLUGGE: “That’s right son, and I remember a more relaxed and simpler way of doing business … but those freedoms are long gone, it’s the world we live in. But show us the money and we’ll guarantee everybody a good time in complete safety. Shit, if it rains we’ve even had special work done to ensure no one gets electrocuted by the pokies! Now, I believe I’ll have a beer. Hey, do you want to see my gun?”

FLOTSAM: “Mr Flugge, thank you for your time.”