By RAE DUFFY and DAVID HIPSLEY
For those of you who wondered why Mike Eggleton didn’t run his forward stroke clinic at Rock ‘n’ Roll this year, it was because he and Shirley have retired, sold the house and moved to the Sunshine coast, taking their surf skis, kayaks and a beautifully converted camping van. They may have retired but you can be sure they’ll be busy with the grandchildren, paddling and extended holidays.
Like many of us Mike was captivated by our sport of sea kayaking, and his determination to ‘get it right’ led to hours watching the kayak roll video and many more hours upside down in his kayak. With the elusive roll mastered he moved on to perfecting the forward stroke and has become one of the club’s best advocates and coaches of the forward stoke.
His knowledge of the sport was extended when he worked for NSW Canoeing. He understands. and has impressed on others, the risks involved in the sport and the need to be well prepared.
As the club grew in numbers Mike realised that our sea instructors were over-taxed so he worked with Rob Mercer to develop the role of flat water instructor within the club. Thus our basic skills program and grading system evolved. He gained instructor and assessor qualifications, mentoring and assessing most of our flat water instructors.
I first met Mike when I did basic skills. It was the middle of winter and he was assisting Dee and Kate to get their flat water instructing qualifications. “Does that paddle work well for you?” was the first of his loaded questions that I fell for before he explained that I had the paddle upside down.
Now four years later it was me being assessed as a flat water instructor and guide by Mike and I knew I’d need to be on my game. Sure enough, a couple of the punters had their paddles upside down as we left Clontarf. Next, Bettina fell out of her kayak right where the current would wash her onto a Spit Bridge Pylon and Neil had been instructed to ignore me and wander off if I asked the rest of the group to raft up safely during the rescue. Mike’s a perfectionist so he sets the bar high, no-one gets away with sloppy presentation or poor skills and we’re all very grateful for his perseverance.
That perfectionism extends to his equipment; if you take a look at one of his many kayaks you’ll see that they’re in immaculate condition. He designs and fits his own sails and has also helped many of his mates with installing sails, pumps and other modifications.
I was also lucky enough to spend time with Mike at Narrabeen Lake working on my forward stoke. If you think you’ve got a good forward stroke, try paddling a K1… “Don’t slouch, vertical paddle, are you going to let him get away from you?” The Saturday sessions were a demanding workout, lots of fun and always followed by a coffee and chat.
In support of Charlie Teo’s work, Mike and Shirley initiated and run the annual Myall Classic Marathon to raise money for the “Cure for Life Foundation”. Don’t be fooled, it’s rarely a flat water event as the weather often turns on severe conditions. It’s a fantastic warm-up for the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic and has raised thousands of dollars. Just another example of Mike’s generosity as a volunteer.
NSW Sea Kayak Club would like to wish Mike and Shirley Eggleton all the best. Mike has been an active and highly valued member of our club for many years and will be sorely missed.