Another coaching session based around Chiswick Pier.
Aim: to improve two distantly different skill level students whose experience of paddling is extensive, but technique needed some practice. Over time habits become ingrained and become the normal. Unlearning skills gained becomes frustrating, but quite possible with patience.
Students: Federico (kayak) and Mary Jo (canoe)
Water conditions: Low water on a flooding tide.
Firstly teaching a mixed skill and mixed vessel course is challenging, but as proved not impossible.
I had hoped we would have pictures, but my colleague on the previous session coach Elaine wasn’t available, so no pictures this week.
We covered a lot of ground this week. With Federico we worked on improving the style of edged turns. This would have been low brace turns, but we had to work on edge control and reduce emphasis on the initiation stroke.
With Federico working on his stroke it was time to work with Mary Jo. With MJ in her canoe we started to work on a stopping stroke. It’s a very different style of Stroke to that of a kayak. A simple single sided reverse power stroke finishing with a forward knifed paddle , where the paddle is left in the water and acts as an external keel.
Moving on particularly as we had a flooding tide, we used a river feature of two steel poles on the foreshore for training. With both students we used the poles as targets to paddle around. First we tried tight turns using the edged turns which we had already practiced.
Having worked on figure of eights around the poles. Initially we had used any radius of turn of the boat, but we then worked on increasing the radius of the turn, moving from the slow moving water on the inshore area out into the main flow. We emphasised leaning on the offside of the canoe to assist in turning the canoe. Whilst the kayak we emphasised edging.
Moving on we did little eddy turns from the main flow into the eddy area opposite the pontoon. This continued whilst a second group of river running boats launched and headed into the eddy area, exactly where we were operating.
We moved on to cross the river flow using our new edging skills, that removed us from the launching group.
As the river runners moved off we reoccupied the eddy opposite the pontoon, where were worked on skulling draws and repeating stopping practice.
A lot was learnt in this session, but it was time to finish the session. With the speed of water flow I wasn’t happy for either student to cross the water to the get off without coach Steve being along side – for safety reasons. With MJ parked beside the pontoon, it was return to the eddy to parallel Federico across to the pontoon. Coach Steve got off the water and then assisted both students to safely get off the water.
So ended a very productive session, real progress was shown by both students.