Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Traditional Paddling Courses

I've been tossing around the idea of getting my ACA instructor certification and trying to make traditional paddling easier to access for regular paddlers. What I've noticed in my area is that traditional paddling, while it is becoming more accepted, is still considered a niche. There are very few ways, other than knowing someone, to get basic instruction.
There are some great coaches around. I took a course with Cheri and Turner that was pretty basic. They, along with Greg Stammer, offered some instruction at the Rough Water Symposium. But these are few and far between.
The other problem is that they are not really geared toward beginning or recreational paddlers. The course I took with Cheri and Turner started off with rolling. While I understand the rational, I also think that most recreational paddlers would be scared away. Symposiums are also not venues for beginners or soft-core paddlers.
The course, or series of courses, I have in mind looks a lot like the existing progressions but uses traditional paddles. So the first class in the series would focus on getting paddlers comfortable in their kayaks, a basic forward stroke, and some basic turning strokes. From that foundation, more advanced courses could focus on better boat handling and paddling in more adverse conditions.
The rational is that I think there are people who would benefit from using traditional paddles, but will never reach the level of kayaking where they are likely to be exposed to it. I imagine that there are plenty of paddlers whose shoulders or wrists hurt when using a Euro paddle, but never leave the estuaries and protected coves. Perhaps they only go a few miles along the coast in perfect weather. These paddlers will never buy, or use, a "real" sea-kayak. They may be using a 14' rec boat.
In my head this sounds like a great plan. I wonder if this is an actual need. Am I just making this up? Is there any merit to this?

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