Maintaining Skills

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Having the odd capsize during the course of a trip is not uncommon particularly if the swell and wind pick up ad conditions deteriorate. On this particular day, we had a number of capsizes in ever-worsening conditions, and although the group were a hardy bunch and game for the adventure, the continuous capsizes and worsening conditions extended our time on the water and became exhausting for everyone. The key point about all of this was the fact that most of the capsizes were by 'sea kayakers'; that is paddlers of a couple of years paddling, well equipped and more to the point, had had some training in deep water recoveries.

Reviewing the day's events, it became clear that there were two obvious short comings; paddlers that had attended training courses had not practised these skills regularly in order to maintain them. And secondly, issues such as 'cold water' shock were foreign to them and so when they first capsized, they missed their roll, exited and then couldn't recover due to the cold and not understanding the symptoms they experienced. What follows is that most paddlers hang up their paddle and are reticent to get back on the water - they build an intrinsic fear of the water, particularly capsizing in deep water.

Capsizing is not a big deal, it's simply another skill in a paddlers toolbox and indeed, is usually a lot of fun. Sea kayakers regularly get into the water to conduct a rough water landing, swim out of gullies and features or do landings in very rough conditions. So why the fear around capsizing? In my experience, we fear what we don't understand, we don't understand what we don't do! So training and practice breed understanding and competence without the fear. So the point is what? The point is anyone wishing to paddle regularly in tidal conditions should/must learn the required skills to do so safely and that also means practising regularly to maintain their skills.

So don't hang about, be honest with yourself. If you analyse your skillset honestly and you have shortcomings, join a training course and PRACTICE and practice. Practice your basic skills until they become second nature!!

Trained or untrained - which are you!?

Published On: 14th May 2016