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Monday, 16 May 2011

What no blog?

Yes folks, I know it's been a long time since the last AR Kayaking entry, but we've been kind of busy out on the water. The good weather saw an influx of paddling customers over Easter for both kayaking and paddle boarding; plus we had to take some time out to enjoy a paddle ourselves.

The weather may have been warm but it's played havoc with water levels and a trip down Jackfield was slowly becoming a lesson in rock slalom. Hopefully a bit of rain might be now falling in the right place just to top things up a little. Only problem could be a repeat of the summers of 2007 and 2008; this was when we were just starting out and we don't want that much water falling from the sky again - as a company we nearly had to call it a day before we'd started.

The only problem now is after a warm spell is that returning to thermals, fleece, dry tops and pants; feels horrible! So that takes me to yesterday's trip down the Tryweryn. Yes it was back into the winter gear, okay we didn't need to dress like the Michelin man, but neither was it a rashie and shorts weather.

The trip posed the question -what do you call a wet smurf? Anything you like - cos he can't hear you when he's swimming. Yes folks - team Smurf was unleashed on the Tryweryn and a few swims were endured by some of our members and more more swims by some than others! I was meant to be having a quiet relaxing paddle, but I ended up chasing more boats than on one of our client based whitewater trips. To protect the guilty I'm not going to name the swimmers, but some of us may enjoy some gloating until it's our turn!

The difference was that yesterday's trip was mates in boats, the sort of trip that allows people to take a few risks, try a few new lines and generally push themselves beyond the safe containment of an organised course. That's why I often recommend that following a training course people go off and do some paddling with either like minded people or good club. Courses will outline the skills you need to attain certain level of competence, assessment will even provide evidence of skill, but it is time spent out there getting to grips with the water that counts and changes you from someone who paddles into a paddler.

That's why I'm a real fan of playboating and slalom. Both disciplines will help you build a set of skills that could one day save you from a cold swim. It's never too late to buy a ridiculously small boat and spend many an afternoon on your favourite wave or to start along the path of disciplined learning that will take you faster around the poles. Both disciplines are guaranteed to train your mind and body to achieve a Zen like relationship with the water you paddle.

Before I go on for too long the message is simple - get out there and take the swims! They are all part of the learning curve. Well done to Simon, Stiffy and Tothy (The Smurfs) for taking the plunge on the path to enlightenment that is the Tryweryn.

Water is the best of all things.

PINDAR (C. 522-C. 438 B.C.), Olympian Odes