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30 January 2007

Coaching in open boats

Its been a while since I did any open boating so when a couple of newcomers to our club enquired about the possibility of coaching I was pleased to be able to help. I am now just a few weeks away from an assessment for a Level 2 kayak coaching qualification and, if I can follow it up with a 3 star open canoe cert, I will be equally equipped to coach canoeing and kayaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed being back on the water in an open boat and coaching skills which are still new to me meant it was easy to understand the challenge of transitioning from double to single bladed paddling. We covered J strokes, box strokes and some experimentation with kneeling versus sitting.

I think it was a good session and with only three of us there was plenty of time for individual attention. I am looking forward to making open boat coaching a more regular fixture.

Coaching hours: 1.5

25 January 2007

Never too cold

The phone rang just as I was heading for the river on Tuesday. I answered it but explained that I would have to call back as I was going kayaking. My friend on the other end was incredulous: but surely its too cold? on the Thames? at night? is that safe? I often get this reaction and sometimes I have to push myself to get out paddling on a cold winter evening but it is always worth the effort.

Tuesday was no exception, eight of us paddled from Wapping to Waterloo Bridge and back. We were well wrapped up for the cold but by the time we had expended some energy working against the tide to Tower Bridge we already felt over dressed.

On nights like this, when the tide is ebbing strongly, we often cross the river here to paddle against the slower current on the inside bend rather than sticking to the river right convention (we are small enough and close enough to the bank to keep out of the way of other traffic). Ferry gliding across the powerful current in the flood lights of Tower Bridge was exhilarating and soon we were sneaking along the south bank close to the shore where the water is slack.

After a good workout we paused just shy of Waterloo Bridge. A few minutes of inactivity reminded us of the freezing temperature and we promptly set off on the tidally assisted return journey.

Paddling back under the red glow of London Bridge, slipping past HMS Belfast unnoticed like Cockleshell Heroes and leaving the City through Tower Bridge I relished the experience of winter kayaking in this unique location.

16 January 2007

Two star coaching

I spent an hour and a half tonight on Shadwell Basin coaching a group of seven towards their two star award with the help of one other (L1) coach. We covered forward paddling, draws (regular and sculling), low brace, stern rudder and finished with a game of polo. The water is starting to feel very cold and there was no enthusiasm for wet skills.

10 January 2007

Windy trip to Gabriel's Wharf

After a low turnout last week we were back to full strength last night when a group of nine from THCC set out from Wapping towards Westminster into a strong head wind and ebbing tide. We crossed to the Surrey (south) bank in front of Tower Bridge, ferry gliding across the powerful current to the more sheltered water on the other side. It was still hard work battling the wind and tide and it took a good fifty minutes to reach Gabriel's Wharf. The return journey flew by in about half that time.

3 January 2007

New year's paddle

Convoys Wharf redevelopmentLast night was the first paddle of the year and a good start to 2007. Despite a low turn out at THCC, four of us were game for a trip to Greenwich and back.

We set off against what London VTS rather poetically described as the 'young flood' and made Greenwich in about 45 minutes. On the way I noticed that part of the rather decrepit Convoys Wharf appeared to have sunk since I was last there. Apparently it is about to be redeveloped by the Richard Rogers Partnership. This is good news for us as it should mean more yuppies and less stone throwers!

We powered back to Wapping in about 30 minutes and I felt as though I had made the first steps in overcoming the Christmas bloat.