Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday 15th April

Last Tuesday delivered some real Autumn weather with the occasional larger wave off Sydney recorded in the 4 metre range and a solid SE breeze to keep every one busy.

Matt decided to give the fishing a miss as soon as we saw the open water. Once we rounded South Head he knew he would be 'busy' enough without the line .

As you can see in the photo below Terry did a fair bit of 'rudderless' paddling.

Meanwhile Keith took a 'short cut' in his new Aquanaut and got a surprisingly steep refracted wave before we even got 'outside'.

South of 'The Gap' the sea and swell evened out into a longer, cleaner pattern and I was able to snap some more pics while sitting in the troughs out of the wind.

Back in the shelter of South Head there was a chance to catch a couple more shots of Keith in his new boat before we hit the flat water.

Thanks to the Tuesday night crew for paddling as a cohesive team and thanks to fellow instructor Keith Oakford for adding some extra strength to the group.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Surf Last Sunday

I looked out over Umina Beach in the failing light, satisfied that another surf day was safely completed. It had been a great group with everyone giving it their best shot. Early morning jitters gave way to some good surf skills interspersed with a fair bit of 'swimming'.
First up, teamwork and good humour saw us off the beach and moving North parallel with shore.

We checked out the larger breaks from seaward: where were the rips, surfers and swimmers? and could we locate the shore dump from a distance rather than learning the "hard way"?
We selected a potential landing during a lull. With everyone at at a safe distance offshore, I went for closer look and disappeared into a larger set for some minutes. My boat was almost airborne as I punched out. Most of the time this part of the beach was O.K for kayaks but every four or five minutes this zone was transformed into a nasty place to paddle. It was a great example of just how long the 'lulls' can be and how much bigger the sets can be - in this case at least twice the height of the regular break.
With a heavy shore dump and an offshore bar picking up the bigger ones we gladly headed back to the smaller spilling waves in the corner.

Our first challenge was to practice landing on the back of the wave i.e. non-surfing. Then we progressed to punching out, bracing and ruddering. The main aim of this was to develop a feel for edge control and familiarity with moving water.

Our day ended with coffee and a video review of the action. I believe learning to kayak is about knowing, feeling and seeing, so the video is always a good way to finish the day. It reinforces lessons learnt and with surfing always creates some grimaces and some laughter.

Learning to deal with breaking waves sharpens boat handling skills, adds meaning to techniques which are less effective on flatwater, and is fun.

Jacqui heading out for "one last wave"


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Belated Rock n Roll Report

When my camera picture card 'died' at the RnR dinner I thought I would never see these photos.

Thanks to Ernie and Natasha at 'datadetect' I have salvaged some rock n roll images for a belated posting.

I have attended the last 10 'rock n roll' weekends and from my point of view, 2008 was one of the best.

The fair weather and low swells allowed most paddlers the opportunity to circumnavigate the rugged volcanic shoreline of the Tollgate Islands and/or Three Island Point. (Below Stuart and Sally paddle one of the chanells that cut their way through the point.)

Back at the camp the small creek provided the main training venue as Nigel Dennis patiently applied his vast experience to help kayakers find the correct paddle to suit their stature, strength, boat and technique. (photo below;Kate in the Rapier20 participating in Nigel's paddle selection workshop. Lendal 4pce paddles allow a vast number of blade, shaft, length and feather options to suit.)

Social activities included a fully catered evening meal. Two brilliant guest speakers (Nigel Dennis and John Kirk-Anderson) and the beer and pizza welcome party at the Expedition Kayaks Tent.

As a professional instructor there were a number of opportunities to compare notes with skilled local paddlers and learn from our overseas and interstate guests.
Best of all it was a chance to catch up with many like minded people who I only get to see at "the Rock'n' Roll"

Many thanks to the Stephan and Rob R and all the other volunteers for making the weekend happen.