Saturday, August 08, 2009

2 Star Training

Greg Paquin, owner and operator of Kayak Waveology, offered a couple of BCU 2 Star training for RIC/KA members. I missed the first class, but it got rave reviews.
H and I, with encouragement from TM, decided to take the class the second time it was offered. You can never get enough coaching and work on polishing up your skills. I also, despite my previous statements about how silly chasing stars is for non-professional paddlers, thought it would be neat to get a couple of stars.
Greg enlisted the help of his partner Paula for the day. We were a fairly large group with eight paddlers - four boys and four girls. Greg and Paula make a great team. One will demo the skill and the other will offer refinements. They also do a great job of circulating around the group offering pointers.
We covered all of the basics: reverse paddling, reverse sweep strokes, draws, sculling draws, moving draws, forward sweep strokes, low braces, bow rudders, low brace turns, and rescues. Part of the fun was the drills: to practice draws we lined up in a series of parallel lines and tried to catch each other using only draw strokes. Another drill involved paddling, backwards, in a line.
They showed us one new rescue called the ladder rescue. It starts off like a regular T-rescue. After emptying out the swimmer's kayak, the rescuer keeps it across his cockpit. The swimmer then climbs up the deck of their kayak, like in a cowboy rescue, and gets in the cockpit. Once everyone is sealed and has their paddle, the swimmer is launched back into the water. It sounds weird, but it is a stable rescue.
At the end of the day PB and I did the assessment. It involved several drills to show mastery of the skills: a reverse figure 8, turning the kayak 360 degrees in place using forward and reverse sweeps, recovering from a capsize using a low brace, etc..
I figured I'd skate right through the assessment. I use most of the skills on a regular basis and in ocean conditions.
When Greg had me do a hanging draw, I knew I was in trouble. The Q-boat's stern drifted out. Instead of gracefully sliding sideways, it just turned sideways without changing course. Greg gave me one more chance and it got a little better. The reverse figure 8 didn't go so well either. I tried turning on the wrong edge... I did manage to recover but what little confidence I had was gone. The draw strokes further doomed me. The sculling draw was fine, but the actual draw stroke was a joke. The Q-boat moved backwards and twisted in the (non)wind. Greg let me keep going until I got it right. After that I was tanked. My braces were half-hearted and my low brace turn was just a sweep and coast turn.
The only bright spot was my bow rudder. It is a thing of beauty.
Needless to say, I did not get the award. I was pretty upset, but not with Greg. For whatever reason, I did not demonstrate proficiency during the assessment.
It could be argued that Greg should have just given it to me because he has seen me control my kayak in rough conditions, but I would have thought less of him if he did that. It could also be argued that if I had used a Euro blade and a more Explorerish kayak, I would have sailed through with ease, but those are not the paddle nor the kayak I regularly use.
I want to pass because I earned it during the assessment and using my own gear.
Greg was very nice about failing me. He gave me pointers on what to work on and encouragement.
Now that I did not get the award, it is a mission. I will polish up the things that Greg pointed out, and I will pass the assessment using a stick and a Q-boat.

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