President’s Report [68]

By Michael Steinfeld

It is indeed an honour to be the president of the Club.

I should briefly tell you a bit about myself and my introduction to kayaking. At first, the mere mention of sea kayaking was a scary proposition. Although I grew up close to Bondi Beach, I always had my feet firmly on terra firma.

My partner and I started kayaking in Rose Bay. Audrey was in a homemade fibreglass boat that had a broomstick to control the rudder. It was winter, the water was cold, and Audrey capsized after a Iarger boat swamped her. We had not learned any rescue techniques. I dragged her swamped boat for 20 minutes to a ramp with Audrey hanging on. She was cold, it was getting dark and we still had to paddle our way back to the wharf. We learned that kayaking without skills in an unseaworthy boat, was stupid and dangerous.

A couple of weeks later we “accosted” some paddlers who had landed at Coogee Beach. We looked at the sea kayaks and we heard about the NSW Sea Kayak Club for the first time.

After completing the membership forms, we did not hear much from the Club (except for the old chat line) and we were disappointed that there were very few Club trips (grade 1 paddles) that we could participate in. A similar complaint echoed at this year’s AGM. However we persisted, due to our love of the water, the fresh air and the environment of paddling.

We attended our first Rock’n’Roll when Rob Mercer was president. By then I had purchased a second-hand kayak. Our first training session on rescue techniques was conducted by instructors Andrew Eddy and Sharon Bettridge. I recall Andrew asking me to paddle over to raft up, but somehow my boat went in the opposite direction. I was indeed a novice. We came away from the weekend impressed by the friendliness of the members and the willingness of the instructors to assist.

After about three years in the Club, I attended the Sea Skills II workshop on weekends over a period of six months. During the course, we made many friends and were in awe at the depth of leadership and commitment offered by the volunteer instructors. (I hope to become a grade 3 paddler sometime soon.)

I have been on the Committee for three years and have enjoyed working with other like-minded paddlers. We must accept that the Club is not service orientated. It is a social club for paddlers to develop skills and social networks that allow them to paddle on their own or with the Club in safety. After all the sea is an unforgiving environment and you have to be prepared and skilled up.

The voluntary contributions of the instructors, guides and leaders and of the long-term members, make this Club one of the most respected of sea kayaking clubs. It is one of my goals as president to encourage further communication within this core group to meet the changing and challenging environment of sea kayaking and the needs of the membership.

I would like to thank Elizabeth Thompson, the past president, for her valuable work and dedication to the Club. It will require a big effort to fit into her kayaking shoes.

We have a great committee and would like to welcome Kirk Pitman who has volunteered his services as secretary/ treasurer. Until next time… Michael