Sea Kayaking with Totnes Canoe Club

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Julie is a very busy lady. Chairperson at Totnes Canoe Club, British Canoeing #ShePaddles Ambassador, on her journey to becoming a Performance Coach and recently became an Advanced Sea Kayak Leader.

Here she shares the story of a day out on the water for 4 Totnes Canoe Club members, who gained their Sea Kayak Award.

On 29th August, I ran a Sea Kayak Award for Totnes Canoe Club Members launching from Warfleet Creek, Dartmouth. I originally became a provider of the 3* Sea Award but have taken on board the more holistic approach of the awards. I put away the tick list and more actively incorporated the elements required into a low key journey, decided upon by the candidates.

The group all came from different paddling backgrounds, either as longer term sea kayakers that just hadn’t got around to taking any awards to more recent sea kayakers with white water or canoeing experience and good transferable skills. The group consisted of three women and a man, spanning the thirty five to fifty eight age bracket. There was also another paddler with the group who was observing to support becoming a Provider himself.

3 Sea kayakers discussing the Sea Kayak Award on the gentle sea
A close up of two kayakers on the sea, paddling away from the shore
2 sea kayakers in front of some rocks, one looks on while the other practises turning

This award took place over one day with four candidates…

All of whom I had coached during the two years and were keen to take the award as a benchmark of their progress. I have previously also spread the award over a weekend or week, depending on who the award is being run for.

My main concern for running this day were the Covid guidelines. I had sent these out ahead of the day, based on the British Canoeing Awarding Body guidelines and templates, alongside the risk assessment and consent form to be signed. We discussed the realities of keeping socially distanced on the beach before we launched. This included handling boats (working as buddies that were already paddling together) and performing rescues (facing opposite directions, using buffs as masks). Therefore, the subject had been covered and everyone was clear on the guidelines before we got on the water. I am also always keen to put everyone at their ease and to emphasise that it should be an enjoyable days paddling, not a traumatic experience.

The conditions on this day were ideal for our needs…

With enough wind and swell to give some waves, varying conditions with some tidal movement, a choppy sea state but lots of sheltered areas and other water traffic to consider.

At lunch, I set up a buoyage challenge, we looked at the map and chart and talked through the possible answers to the questionnaire.

During the day there were opportunities for some coaching tips. Towards the end of the day, rescues and towing were performed and anything else that I felt that we hadn’t covered during the day. Then there was time for a one to one chat about how the day went from the candidates point of view with some feedback and future thoughts and options.

All the group passed! I was confident that they all had the awareness of their environment and fellow paddlers along with the skills to put themselves where they needed to be at this level as holistic Sea Kayak Award paddlers.

two sea kayakers paddling between some rocks on the sea
two sea kayakers following each other on the sea, with the Dorset coast in the background


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