Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bucket List

As promised last week, this weekend our paddle plans involved pool training on Saturday night and then a SISKA Energizer paddle on Sunday morning. All completed in less than 18 hours it made for a good test of our conditioning and a couple of kayaking bucket list items were crossed off along the way.

Over the past couple of months Robyn and I have been working on our rolling skills and we have migrated into the Crystal Pool as the winter weather starts to take hold. Although I have figured out how to roll and can do them 9 out of 10 times, I still have a lot of refining to do to bring more fluidity into them. Robyn has been my on the water critique and her desire to roll has also increased dramatically. This was really evident on Saturday after I completed one of my better ones and she turned to me and said "I want to do that!"  :-)

For this training session I decided to mount the GoPro on Robyn's kayak so that we could later review her technique and steepen the learning curve a bit. Using the training methods that we learned from Yves of Go Kayak, I took on the roll (pun) of instructor stood beside her in the pool as we gradually added elements to her training. At the beginning of this session we picked up where we left off from our last pool session with Robyn's head just under the surface. On my signal (bang on bottom of the kayak) she performed the required knee drop, sweep of her paddle, hip snap all in perfect timing (almost) while keeping her head low (sometimes) resulting in her torso rolling onto the back deck of the kayak and completing the roll. Easy Peasy !!

Gradually throughout the next couple of hours I lowered Robyn further into the water to the point that she was completely upside down in the water and she completed the process again. Here she learned that being "explosive" with her paddle stroke and hip snap were keys to the success she was experiencing. Easy Peasy!!

The next step was for Robyn to fully set up for the roll on her own, roll her kayak the opposite direction of me lowering her upside down. Just another element added to the process and like most first attempts she made it 3/4 out of the water only to experience burying her paddle, wrong timing of the hip snap and of course the dreaded head trying to come out of the water too soon. Easy Peasy!!   :-)

We spent the next few minutes talking about the elements that she experienced and when I asked her what went wrong she pointed out what I mentioned above. Brilliant !! At least she knew what the issues were and that is half of the training, the rest is just execution.

Setting up for her second attempt I stood by to make sure her paddle blade angle was correct and just like in the Batman TV sitcom ...... KAPOW, SWOOSH, SPLOOSH ....... Robyn was upright sitting in her kayak like a true superhero. Making sure that the roll was just wasn't a lucky one, Robyn quickly set up and completed her second roll unassisted all recorded on the GoPro. Easy Peasy!!!  

Having recently gone through the first roll experience myself, I know how Robyn must have felt after the pool session. There is something about completing your first roll that is almost like remembering your first bike ride without training wheels. The best part .... you just want to do more rolling and Robyn was no different. In fact on Monday morning I got a text from her asking when the next pool session was as she wants to roll more!!  LOL  My response ..... "take it to the ocean now".  A kayaking "Bucket List" item crossed off.

Getting home late on Saturday and attempting to dry out some of our gear, the Sunday morning alarm came way too soon as it was time to head back out to participate in the SISKA Energizer Paddle from Whiffen Spit to Otter Point. At least the the weather gods were looking over the group with the sun trying peak through the clouds and only a respectable 5-10 knot wind present.

Preparing our rides at Whiffen Spit in Sooke

This paddle was an inter-club event of sorts as some of the Nanaimo Paddlers joined the group and it was great to have them along. A total of 27 paddlers took to the water and started the transit towards the west and with the goal of reaching Otter Point. I have only been to Otter Point before while on our fishing boat and I knew that this paddle could and did live up to the "Energizer" name.

With the wind picking up slightly there was a stiff breeze in our faces as the group worked it's way along the shoreline past the sand bluffs and towards the old log sort. Keeping close to the shoreline also allowed us to get out of the direct influence of the wind until we rounded Otter Point. It also allowed us to play in some of the rock gardens and take advantage of the swells coming off Juan De Fuca Straight.

Rounding Otter Point we spotted a nice long beach with a fairly steep landing zone. With the wind blown swells it made landing fun and of course timing just had to be right to avoid being dumped. The group did a great job of making into onto the beach without any in the water experiences and then it was lunch time!

I love these large group photos

As expected, the paddle back to Whiffen Spit was wind and swell aided and I'm pretty sure everyone was pleased with that after a good work out before lunch. Secretly, I also think a bunch of us were hoping for a little more surf action to play through the rock gardens but other than the occasional roller coming ashore there wasn't too many great opportunities to ride the waves.

Making our way back past the sand bluffs several of the group took the opportunity to perform self rescues of different varieties. Remember my comment to Robyn about taking her rolling to the ocean? Well, lead by example I say and so it was my turn to cross off a kayak "Bucket List" item and complete my first ocean roll. More importantly .... to experience the dreaded "Head Freeze" for the first time. So like Rami- BamBam would say "Git Er' Done" and so I did.

Yup .... cold ocean water running into your ear canals is pretty disorientating and the shock of "Head Freeze" was nasty. How nasty? During my second roll attempt I was so confused under water due to the cold that I totally blew the roll. Yeah ..... No you don't get to see that video!   LOL

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