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23 November 2005

Winter sport

I felt cold last night setting off from Wapping towards Westminster but after ten minutes paddling against the tide I had warmed up and was taking off my hat and unzipping my cag.

It had been a cold day and my colleagues were aghast seeing me head off to paddle on the river after work but one of the great advantages of kayaking is that it is a year round pursuit (unlike some of my other hobbies). In fact, if I ever feel it is too cold to go out paddling here in London I have only to think of Nigel Dennis et al in South Georgia and it will feel a bit warmer!

17 November 2005

Well timed tide

Tuesday saw a great turn out on the river, despite the falling temperature. Fifteen of us made the trip to Greenwich and back, all but one of us in sea boats. We had the tide with us in both directions as it turned, very conveniently, at about 19:40 just as we were arriving at Greenwich making for an easy paddle in both directions.

14 November 2005


Margate sunset
On Saturday a group from THCC headed for the north Kent coast and after a bit of car shuffling set off from the beach in front of the Continental Hotel in Whitstable at 12:15. We could not have asked for much better weather, given the time of year: the wind was a gentle south westerly of about force 2 and the sea was calm. We also had the ebbing tide helping us along and made quick progress despite an unhurried pace.

Our first stop was to explore the remains of the pier about 1 km off-shore Herne Bay, we then paddled on, landing on the beach just to the east of the ruined church towers at Reculver for lunch. After lunch we made for Margate and got there in the dark at about 16:45 having enjoyed a spectacular sunset behind us with the silhouette of the ruined church towers adding a dramatic element to the view.

Total distance was about 25km.

9 November 2005

Learning more about coaching

Last night I ran a coaching session for a group of four working towards their two star award. Maybe it was the cold and dark, but it seemed hard to get things going or to be very enthusiastic.

We spent just over an hour working on a variety of strokes culminating in the bow rudder which we then put into practice with some rudimentary slalom drills. I think I was perhaps unrealistic in asking them to tell me when they got bored or when they wanted to move on as the prevalent group dynamic seems to be to look to the coach to steer the session. Towards the end I asked if they wanted to join a game of polo with one of the other groups and for the first time in the evening they showed some enthusiasm - I guess I asked too late.

I need to improve the balance between keeping the group engaged and giving individuals attention as I found last night that I would be working with one of them on something while the others were losing interest. Perhaps a bit more structure (and fore thought) is required to have some exercises I can give the group to get on with while I can single out an individual for some one on one technique coaching.

One other thing I realised is that, despite enjoying my lovely new feather weight paddle, no one else could see how I was using it as it is black and consequently most of them were trying to do bow rudders with the back of the blade! I may have to revert to a cheap plastic white paddle for night time coaching.

(coaching hours: 1.5)

2 November 2005

To The Orient

Last night we paddled a surprisingly calm river all the way to the eastern hemisphere - not quite as far as it sounds.

There is a dramatic green laser beam shooting over the river at Greenwich marking the meridian which has apparently been there since December 1999 but its the first time I had seen it. Trying to paddle underneath it was a bit like chasing a rainbow but we did eventually get past it and across the meridian.