Thoughts from a K1 paddler…. Is your ski stable enough?

Surf Ski Scotland - Port Edgar

Surf Ski Scotland – Port Edgar

A brief sunny spell! Ilfracombe Harbour with Tim Humphries.

A brief sunny spell! Ilfracombe Harbour with Tim Humphries.

Although still early in the season, we’ve been really fortunate to get some great paddling conditions. I’ve had the pleasure of heading to Scotland for three days of coaching clinics in Oban and Port Edgar, as well as doing some individual tuition back home in North Devon.  My next trip is in May when I’ll be returning to Waterford.  Having run a clinic last year for Surf Life Saving Ireland, I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone has progressed.

However, enough of my travels.  What I wanted to do, is share a write up from Tim Humphries (Royal Canoe Club). Tim sent me this after his trip down to sunny North Devon.  Yes, he’s been quite flattering about my coaching, but there’s a much more important message to take away from it.  “Stability Before Ability!”.

Tim is someone who regularly paddles on the Thames in pretty much any conditions, all the year round in Nelo V3, K1.  I’d be the first to admit that his water skills and stability in a K1 are far better than mine.  However, the ocean is a different animal and the crossover isn’t necessarily what you might think.  Read on……….

“Those of you who know me, would probably agree when I say I’m not the best when it comes to ski paddling… In fact I’ve probably fallen in more times than not (and one time, even failed to get in the ski at all).  When I phoned Mark Ressel and asked for 3 days of lessons ahead of the Icon Classic (Woolacombe / 16th July), I can only imagine his face when he forced out the words ‘sure, no problem’! 

What I didn’t realise was, that he’d purchased an Epic V7 for people like me.  I was to be his Guinea Pig as a competent competitive river paddler with little experience of ski paddling.  As it turned out, the weather was pretty rough and the sea conditions, very messy (not ideal for a Guinea Pig at sea!). 

However, the conditions were quickly forgotten as soon as I jumped into the V7.  It was the ideal ski and allowed me to focus on my ocean skills, without having to worry about falling out – Even when at right angles to the chop and swell! From my short experience, I would definitely recommend a stable ski to anyone who is starting out.  There is plenty to be working on, without having to worry about stability. 

On day 2, the conditions were too rough for me, even in a V7, so I  thought the day would be a right off.  Not the case, as Mark stuck me in the back of a double, to see what it’s like to catch runners in a descent swell . Now this was an awesome experience, as all I had to do was stay in time, listen to him commentate and enjoy the ride!

I can safely say I’ve come away from my trip with more knowledge and confidence, but also realise how much more there is to learn!  Can’t wait to get in a ski again and catch some more runners.  I’d definitely recommend this sport to any paddler.  If you want to save yourself a lot of hours learning the hard way, get down to North Devon and sign up for a Ress’perience’!

Finally, if you’re looking for accommodation in Woolacombe,  I can recommend Eddy’s Surf Lodge. The owners are really welcoming and have a great set up for anyone who enjoys ocean sports . Being in the centre of Woolacombe and only 2 minutes from the beach, is the perfect location.  “

So remember. Stability before ability.  If you hold that thought, you’ll have a whole lot more fun and you’ll be chasing those amazing runners that we all talk about :-).

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On 13th April 2016
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