Tuesday 17 February 2009

Instructing in Tasmania

I've just returned from an awesome weekend of instructing with the Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club, at their third annual 'White Beach Weekend', at Nubeena on the stunning Tasman peninsula. In so many ways Tassie is the birthplace of Australian sea kayaking, and it was great to finally get down there to see at least a few of the mythical paddling destinations I've read about for years, & to exchange ideas with these hardy paddlers.
The trip began with a drive down to Melbourne to meet up with Peter Treby, the highly regarded Victorian sea kayaking identity, for a bit of a play in our boats prior to me hopping on the Spirit of Tassie. Luckily the wind was up over 20 knots creating the best little wind waves you could ever get to test out a boat, & we spent a good couple of hours racing in & out of the waves surfing & messing around. Another VSKC member, Bob, also came down to beach with his Nordkapp & added to the merriment. After a couple of quiet beers in the pub across from the passenger terminal with Peter & Bob, I boarded the Spirit of Tassie. A long night in the bar ensued with another highly regarded Tasmanian born paddling identity with a big red beard, and after a brief but heavy kip, the morning brought the shoreline of Tassie into view. I then had to drive to Hobart to collect Rob from the airport, & we headed on down to Nubeena on the bottom end of the Tasman peninsula to set up for the weekend.
The first thing that struck me about the local paddlers was their attention to detail with gear, epecially immersion clothing. These guys respect the water, & it's little wonder with summer water temps sitting in the mid teens. They are almost all very well set up with safety gear, sails, 'stuff that works'. The second thing that struck me is the wonderful sense of community which exists within this club, something I rarely experience in the cut & thrust of living in a big city like Sydney. I was very jealous.....
My first session on the water was an instruction workshop on boat control, and there were several paddlers in the group who's experience went to decades - pretty bloody intimidating for a mainlander (or is that north islander) upstart like me! Suffice to say, our ideas on boat control stemming from better use of big muslcles & rotation, as opposed to paddle flourishes, was slowly contemplated by the group & hopefully everyone learned something. This theme continued on the water over the whole three days, with paddlers willing to embrace & have a go at our drills & challenges with great committment.
The evenings were laced with tall stories, a few glasses of Tasmanian Pinot Noir & some sketching.
Just joking about the sketching....
Then to top of the weekend, Tony, Laurie & Tim snaffled some juicy Abalone off Wedge island & fried them up as an entree to a rip roaring dinner at the local club.
On the final morning Rob led a session on how to teach rolling for some of the more experienced paddlers, so that this ambitious club can advance their training program and begin to develop a 'club' roll.
The experince was one of the highlights of my paddling life, and I thank Greg Simson & the club for organising everything so seamlessly & taking a punt on inviting us down to share our ideas.
Keep an eye out for this event next year, it's a beauty.

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