Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wayne Langmaid

Last Tuesday afternoon I packed my paddle and headed for the Central Coast to pay my respects and offer support to the family of Wayne Langmaid. We were gathered to acknowledge the passing of a multi-talented and passionate man who had earned the friendship and respect of so many people.

His loving family gave eulogies with a courage and intensity that were reminiscent of Wayne's finest qualities. His inspiration was so obvious in their words.

Wayne was a pioneering figure in the SeaKayaking community. He was a forceful and strident advocate for safety, and the standards that he set for himself and his business became benchmarks for the paddling community. He beleived that fledgling adventurers deserved a challenging but fear free learning environment. He insisted that safe and supportive guidance was a right rather than an option and reminded all aspiring instructors of their moral and legal obligations to these principles.

He shared these values with all concerned and was generous with his time and expertise. When I headed a review of safety and training proceedures as president of the New South Wales Sea Kayak Club, Wayne gave generously of his time and expertise. His positive influence over this organisation and many other kayaking groups, including my own training organisation, will live on.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two Tuesdays at North Head.

Two photos, one week apart, same time, same place, same group....

... but a very different scene.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Small Waves = Big Fun

The surf report said: "small dribbling surf in the morning with a few peaky 1-2 footers later in the day". So with the low afternoon sun throwing a pink tinge on the breaking crests, Peter, Chris and I headed for Greenhills to catch a few rides in our sea kayaks.
We soon discovered the odd decent set and anyway, it doesnt take much to keep sea kayakers amused. It must have been big enough because we all needed a roll or three.

Punching out we still had some work to do....

with just enough wave action to keep us honest....

But most of the session was clean and cruisy with not a boardrider in sight.

With waves like this, you can practice strokes without the same pressure or urgency that you get with bigger, fatter waves.

Just on sunset with the tide running out, things got quite busy. The local surfers knew the best waves would happen after the turn of the tide and weren't going to let the low light deter them.

So we moved to the North of the beach to avoid the evening "peak hour".
Still enjoying the conditions, we surfed 'by ear' for a while and then reluctantly picked up one last shadowy wave as the last light drained out of the evening sky.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lake Macquarie Paddlers.

Waking up to a clear cool morning on the banks of Lake Macquarie - it was the perfect way to prepare for a weekend of solid training with the Lake Macquarie Paddlers.....

Across a wide age range and from many walks of life, this group were one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic that I have met.

Injury prevention and efficiency were hot topics. Who wants to give up paddling due to strain injuries?.... and who doesn't want to go little quicker?

(Photo Chris B)

Regardless of how well Sharon paddled, the playground equipment wouldn't budge......!

(photo Chris B)

With the aims of the morning session explained we hit the water to refine the forward stroke. After a series of exercises and challenges, we finished the morning with a "peer review".

I believe there is lot to learn about your own stroke by developing a constructively critical eye for other peoples technique.

Having your mates analyse your paddling is sometimes a real test of diplomacy and with some paddlers, I feel more like a referee than a coach during this activity.

Fortunately, with this group, humour prevailed and by lunchtime, many could not only feel the difference in their own paddling but could see the difference in their buddies.

(photo Chris B)

We proceeded from boat control skills to wet exits (planned and unplanned).

Along the way we found out what happens when you tilt your boat and what happens when you tilt it too far.
Initial apprehension about capsize was soon forgotten and people started to relax with the idea of edging their boats and bracing.
I made my usual pronouncement :" If you don't fall in you aren't trying hard enough!" and the group rose to the challenge. John even declared himself the "unbalanced boater"after stalling during some very committed turns and braces!
It was a warm weekend so it was easy to promote kayaking as an immersion sport.

With practice and a little more training I think The Lake Macquarie Paddlers will be adding some coastal trips to their calendar.
There is an adventurous spirit in this group and the skills and knowledge they are acquiring will soon see them crossing the Swansea Bar and extending their range to the open sea. When they paddle out of their beautiful sheltered Lake onto the ocean swells for the first time, their preparation and teamwork will make a real difference.

Special thanks to:

Alan and Ingrid for organising the weekend and valuable advice on how to tailor the training.

Owen and Anne for hosting a hearty barbecue on Saturday night.

John for his enthusiasm and positive write up of the weekends events.

Chris for his excellent photographs and the artistic images of a kayaker.

And; Alan, Anne, Chris, Don, Frank, Ingrid, John, Malcolm, Neil, Owen, Peter, Ray and Wayne for giving the weekend their full commitment and enthusiasm.