It’s always great when a plan comes together.

As per usual, not only did the weather play ball so did the river.

So this week’s plan was to take out one of my fabulous four (those that attended coach Elaine’s and Steve’s) beginners kayak course a couple of weeks ago out for their longer trip session, which is part of the course. Unfortunately Coach Elaine was on other duties with the club and it was up to Coach Steve to finish off the training.

Step forward Gary, one of our fabulous four. The conditions on the day were ideal for training, it was ebbing tide and the weather had turned sunny with the minimal wind, a marked contrast to our original training session.

From our previous paddle it was time to help correct a few areas which hopefully would assist Gary in his future paddles. First it was to develop an active seating position on dry land and then transfer that to the water. The main issue, a lack of connectivity with the boat which invoked a poor transfer of power through his legs, combined with lack of body rotation resulted in a slow paddle speed. Easy to fix early and much more difficult later on.

Once on the water we worked on boat control paddling across the river flow, back and forth. We investigated edge control and how to control turning the boat to best effect. Lots of practice experimenting within a predetermined area.

Gary proved to be an ideal student absorbing technique and putting into practice quite a few things that he learnt previous on his training session.

Having satisfied myself that Gary was ready, we started on a trip towards Chiswick Bridge. A simple little paddle putting together some of the things we previously taught. We followed the local navigation rules for our part of the river keeping a good eye open for those out rowing. As we paddled out we met several of our club paddlers on their way back. It did include Jules trying out the club’s new sea kayak and Coach Elaine making sure the group was safe.

We often forget that this first trip is an epic one and quite exhausting  for our beginners. We paddled almost to Chiswick Bridge before taking a ferry glide across the width of the river landing outside the ship pub on the opposite side. Having taken a moment to stretch on the foreshore, we headed back out now with the tidal flow.

We were quickly overtaken by Michelle’s group heading back. Gary and I sought eddy’s on the side of the river to practice our eddy turns before attempting to eddy out behind Barnes railway bridge uprights. As it happens Gary made a better job of it than I did. We then travelled across to the pillar on the opposite side using a simply ferry gliding. Gary then rejoined the flow by paddling out against the flow invoking a sweep stroke and edging the boat to return with the flow heading back to the pontoon.

As it happens we later joined up with Michelle’s group who were ahead of us to complete a ferry glide with them across the river towards the green buoy on the Middlesex bank just upstream of the pier house. We then simply lined ourselves up on the on the gap between the historic boats. Passing between the two we headed to the shore so we could prepare ourselves to ferry glide across to the pontoon and the get off.

Gary not only crossed the river but help several club members get off the water. Additionally he helped put many of the boats away.

With Gary safely on land it was just a reminder to him to head home and relax as he had worked out both physically and mentally.

Well done Gary and thanks for an excellent training session.