Another fine day on the river – little did we know Lock down 2 was just around the corner.

A Sunday morning with very few club members in slightly challenging conditions.

It was our last opportunity to paddle pre lockdown.

We set out in a pod of four. The pod was led by coach Elaine and Steve with Liz and a new club member Polly.

Coach Elaine launched each of us at almost low water. We had previously discussed a basic strategy for the session. We would paddle a little way upstream before turning around and heading towards Hammersmith Bridge.

Once on the water coach Steve asked Polly to paddle a little forwards and then turnaround and head back to where Steve was. Coach Steve then asked Liz to perform the same instruction, by which time Coach Elaine was on the water and with us. Polly had just attended one of the club’s beginners session and was enthusiastic to increase her skills and paddle out with the club.

We paddled out with the end of the ebb tide heading in the direction of Barnes Bridge. We didn’t travel far, before coach Elaine pulled us over to the side of the river. It was always going to be an odd paddle because of the time of low/high water. The remainder of the club had already left and I found out later that the rest of the club made it as far as the grand union canal.

With coach Elaine leading we crossed the river to the Surrey side, once there it was time to help improve Polly’s paddling style. First it was lift the skeg up and learn how to edge the boat and by doing so control it. We then moved on to improving body rotation with various little improvement suggestions.

We thus paddled as out little group, with Liz and coach Eliane working together I working with Polly. Next we found a little eddy and worked on turning the boat using sweep stroke. Coach Elaine demonstrated edged turns, to demonstrate how it should look. We then broke the process down and worked on the individual components.

By this time we were fast approaching Hammersmith Bridge, so time to cross the river with a now flooding tide. We used a ferry glide technique to cross the river without loosing headway. A little over half way across coach Steve explained how we were going to paddle on the outside of Dove Pier and then cut back to the shore line, as it was time to return back to the club pontoon.

There was an additional potential hazard, which was a sailing race which I didn’t want us to become involved in. As we paddled along the shore line the sail boats weren’t fully in race mode yet, so our timing was first class well done Elaine. I had originally thought that we would stop at the steps of the black bull. By the time we got there, it was obvious that the conditions in the main stream where looking rather bouncy.

Coach Elaine and Liz, were released by a Coach Steve to go play in the bouncy waters. It was wind over water and with white horses approx force 4. Coach Steve carried on with Polly back passing along the inside of Chiswick Eyot. We paused for a moment waiting for a Elaine and Liz to catchup. It was then a simple paddle back to the position opposite the get off point.

As we paddled back, Coach Elaine got off the water and as we were a little early coach Steve worked on a little ferry gliding practice with Polly. We did a practice run, before Polly repeated the exercise with perfect results.

With Polly beside the pontoon, Coach Elaine helped her get out of her boat and to the safety of the floating pontoon. Liz with all her paddling experience performed a perfect ferry glide and got off, followed by coach Steve.

I am pleased to report every one helped with putting the boats away, it had been a most excellent session with Polly progressing very quickly. From when the session started to its end Polly’s skills had improved dramatically, hopefully we have helped her move forwards in her paddling career.

Well done everyone a really nice session.


Polly in and eddy about to practice sweep turns
Coach Steve instructing as per usual
Polly practising sweep turn with Edging
Polly with Hammersmith Bridge in the background.
Liz making sure we are all safe