NSW Sea Kayak Club – Friday (Practice) on My Mind [77/78]

by Julie Gibson

Lately the Friday OANDORA paddles (led by Owen and/or Adrian on the club calendar) have become a time to hone skills and pick up some new ones.

Owen and Adrian make sure that we take advantage of any situation that comes up to test our skills with the objective of achieving better boat control and improved confidence. They also encourage us to extend our comfort zone and, as a result, we usually spend some time during a session wholly or partially immersed.

Up to now I have just avoided doing the things I’m not all that good at. Now with this new approach, everyone is patient, encouraging me on, while I struggle to improve my abilities.

Every potential course through the rocks is played with, not just the ones for the experts — I do the ones that I can achieve, too. We’ve paddled in swell — I’ve now been out to North Head and across to Watsons Bay from Little Manly a few times, gaining confidence from the sea kayaking skills I’m developing.

The philosophy is that even small skills need practice. Like opening my own day hatch to store my glasses while on the water, or stowing a tow line so that it will properly deploy when next used.

Today, Anne was getting ready for her Sea Skills assessment so the whole paddle was used for practice — a nice stiff southerly made it more challenging.

We covered manoeuvring , special purpose paddle strokes, turning 360 degrees by alternating forward and reverse sweeps (counting strokes to see if we were stronger on one side than the other) and then we made the comparison between turning in windy and calm conditions.

Adrian demonstrated the three degrees of edging and its role in achieving better boat control. I practised up to two degrees. Anne worked on her Eskimo roll while Adrian photographed her with his SLR camera which he is developing as a diagnostic tool.

On the way back to Clontarf we had the opportunity to practise catching the swell with wind behind us. This should prove useful when next we use Freshwater Beach to do some surf practice.