I spent yesterday working alongside Will Kilner of Adventures With Will on a 2 star kayak training day for two clients. One of the things I enjoy the most about freelancing here in the South Wales borders is the variety of work I get to do, and yesterday was a perfect example of that.
Both clients had some prior experience of kayaking, but little in the way of formal tuition, so we began with a look at forwards paddling. With keen students, it's so rewarding to see a really quick progression from a little swaying and meandering to really solid forwards paddling. The venue we used - the River Wye at Glasbury even enabled us to introduce a few 3 star skills as we ferry-glided across the flow, experimenting with different angles to hit different points on the opposite bank.
The Wye really is a river with something for (almost) everyone. This section is a great introduction to moving water at low levels, but lies just a few miles downstream of the Builth Wells to Boughrood section that I careered down in November.
Safely in the shelter of a slow moving tributary, Will led a session on moving sideways and blade awareness, encouraging our students to experiment with using their paddle blades at differing angles to manoeuvre their boats. By directing their focus onto the three key elements of Body, Boat and Blade, the students began to take responsibility for their own learning, applying earlier key points to new paddle strokes with considerable success.
Some close quarter boat handling after lunch was followed by the wet bits! The best part of any cold February paddlesport training is surely the rescues, and our students reacted with the requisite amount of joy when we introduced support strokes followed by self rescue and rescue of a fellow kayaker. We didn't just sit back and watch our students shiver though, we were generous enough to act as mock paddlers in distress for some of the rescues, sitting in the flow awaiting rescue. Never mind the fact that we both had drysuits on; I think that was a pretty big sacrifice to make!
Until Next Time
It's been a while since I've had the opportunity for some real developmental coaching, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I'm running a 2 star course for Monmouth Canoe Club in April and May though, so hopefully will have just as great a time.