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17 October 2007

Canoe coaching

The new emphasis on open boating in the BCU's revised Star Awards has lead to a much greater interest in canoeing, as opposed to kayaking, within our club. This suits me well when it comes to my regular club coaching sessions as coaching open boating is a great opportunity to practice my own skills and it can be a lot of fun introducing people to something new.

last night I offered an intro to open boats session and had five takers. They had varying levels of kayaking experience but only one had been in a canoe before so we started off just going for a paddle to see how they would get on with keeping a straight course. After a little experimentation we gathered round to discuss the results and I introduced the J stroke as a solution to keeping the canoe running straight.

The small group gave me a chance to work with everyone individually for a few minutes and we made good progress with developing the technique. Working one on one really helps me to see the different learning styles and is a good reminder to try and deliver a session through a variety of learning channels.

After some land based drills and a little more practice with the J stroke we moved on to turning strokes, taking the opportunity to introduce the idea of using bow and stern draws to turn the boat. As kayakers the group were familiar with draws but the idea of using them for steering was new. This led on to the pry and then the box stroke. I think they were quite surprised at how different some of the canoe strokes were to what they were used to.

We finished up with some balancing games including standing and walking around the canoe and one of my favorite finales: the five canoe pyramid, which we paddled back to the dock.

The session had covered a lot of technical stroke work (and even some knots), probably a bit more than I would normally do with complete novices but the kayaking experience of the group and their interest meant that they were able to take it all in. I enjoyed the session and am looking forward to introducing more of my club mates to canoeing.

9 October 2007

There and back again

A relatively unremarkable paddle tonight. We set off from the beach by The Prospect of Whitby with the water fairly low and headed up river against the last of the ebb. We crossed the river at Tower Bridge and paddled as far as Gabriel's Wharf before turning around and returning to Wapping and a muddy landing just around slack water.

Paddlers: 7
Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

2 October 2007

Ladder launch

High water London Bridge at 18:39 meant no beach to launch from so we launched, one at a time, via the step ladder just outside Shadwell Basin. It took nearly fifteen minutes to get nine boats on the water and it was 19:15 by the time we set off up river.

We crossed to the Surrey side in front of Tower Bridge enjoying a good ferry glide across the quickly building ebb tide. The pace was leisurely, at least for the regulars, as we regrouped several times to let everyone catch up.

We picked it up a little on the way back as the tide made easy going for everyone and returned to Shadwell Basin at about 20:45.

The gentle pace meant I had plenty of time to chat, look around and enjoy the view.