What looked like a tough paddle turned out to be a great training day!

Another early start at Chiswick Pier Canoe Club, meant one group with Martin lead coach another with Sarah D as lead coach left the pontoon at some ghastly time of the morning. By the time I had arrived there were only two groups left, Coach Andy and Coach Dean took one group, leaving the last group to be coached by both Elaine & Steve. Whilst all the other groups headed towards Chiswick Bridge, we in Elaine’s group took a different approach and headed in the opposite direction.

Having watched the results of poor Valentina who took an exploration of how many fish there were in the river Thames just as I arrived. Julius was on hand to take charge and was taking her to the garage with a mind to send her home somewhat shocked and still rather wet. I had no idea what had happened, but just witnessed the results. That session carried on without Valentina. Coach Michelle sent a follow up email to make sure she was OK.

Valentina replied that she was fine despite swallowing some River Thames Water. She wanted to thank Julius for looking after her after the event – thanks Julius.

Elaine and I took our small group onto the water using the side on paddle presentation method of mounting the kayak. This is a much lower risk method of entry. With Elaine on the water in her sea kayak each member was assisted in the paddle across the boat method of how to get into a boat already afloat. This was our chosen method of launching as neither Elaine or myself knew the paddling ability of our groups members. Our Strategy was to assign each group member a position on the sea wall, prior to our session beginning, so each club member was escorted to their position by Elaine.

Easy and safe in a flooding high tide and in very windy conditions. Once everyone was launched with Elaine leading we headed down to the Chiswick Eyot where we hoped to gain a little protection from both tide and wind. It was whilst paddling down to the Eyot although our team made it without difficulty their paddling style wasn’t as good as it could be.

Thus Coach Elaine and I started to work on the groups forward paddling skills. From a coaching perspective one of the hardest things to teach is forward paddling with style and effortless power, so this is what we did. Pretty tricky to do when you consider Elaine was in a sea kayak she hadn’t paddled before and Steve was in his open canoe. With years of teaching experience easy peasy especially because we had such a willing group. 

There were paddling forwards drills, building skills layer upon layer each time picking up on areas which could be improved. By the end of the forward paddling session they weren’t recognisable as the same group, as they were paddling so well. Next we’re worked on their boat turning ability starting with a simple static turn and building to a low brace turn. Which is one of the most complicated strokes they will individually learn. A combination of sweep stroke , edge low brace. Who would have thought this little group of beginners could progress so quickly. 

Having been drilled with humour and laughter for approximately two hours, it was time to end the session. One of the many things you learn whilst exploring your coaching skills is when to stop. Too much can ruin the session. 

Of course we ended with a ferry glide across from the eddy opposite the launch pontoon. With Coach Steve landed to assist, if required with the get off. Not really needed as each performed a perfect ferry glide with a low brace turn to land beside the pontoon ready for their get off. As our group arrived so did several of the other groups, making for a little congestion on the pontoon, however after our group’s boats were put away Coach Elaine and Steve addressed our little group as to what they had learnt and how far they had come. It was a very short explanation as it was a surprisingly cold day. 

It was a very good session and great to send a new group of beginners on their journey to becoming competent paddlers. Many thanks have to go to Coach Elaine for demonstrating a whole range of paddle strokes in an unfamiliar boat to an unexpected audience.

Lets see what we can get up to next week..!!
Photos by Coach Elaine
Team on the water with smiling faces Alice, Siobhan, Senani and Pradeep.

Coaches Elaine and Steve

Looks like everyone was having a good time. Well done each of you for a super paddling session.