Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Klanocopia 2011

Three years ago Hunter Klan founder Brad McPherson decided it was time to have a focal weekend for his slowly building group of local paddlers. He approached us to run a day of training at Umina Beach, followed by a 'messing around in boats' day on the Sunday. The first ever Klanocopia was a relatively small gathering, a bunch of paddling mates getting together to do some targeted training aimed at making them safer sea paddlers.
Rob gives the Saturday morning briefing
Last year the event built a little more, with some new members joining in & establishing it as an annual meet, rather than just a once-off weekend. 
Bert Tarrant cracks a nice wave on the Box Head Bar
This year Shawn Armitage took over the organisation of the Klanocopia & did a terrific job of sorting out everything from the venue, accommodation, registrations & a communal building for some presentations, and Klanocopia made the jump from a smallish weekend to a proper symposium-style sea kayaking event.
The Klan are a broad range of people & paddlers. Not all of them are interested in out & out sea kayaking, but those who are have steadily built their skills up over time to give them what is now a very solid member base of core sea paddlers. They take it upon themselves to introduce their Klan mates to the sea, look out for one another & treat the open waterways of their region with great respect. They also have way too much fun for the often grumpy world of sea kayakers - I think a few more disapproving strokes of an old grey beard are in order if these folks want to consider themselves 'real'…..
Chris outlining his battleplan
We arranged for Shaan Gresser to come along to help out Rob, Sharon, Chris James & I in running instruction, and also to give a talk on the Saturday night about her solo Bass Strait crossing, the first ever by a female paddler.
Surf & bracing training at Box Head
The weather delivered, with a warm spring weekend, some gentle surf & clear blue skies.
On the Saturday we ran five separate instruction programs, with the focus on everything from basic skills & rescues with Sharon & Shaan, to blade control in close quartering with me, to surf, bracing, contact & emergency tows & rescues with Rob & Chris. I bamboozled my guys with a structured session aimed at getting them to eventually turn their boat 180 degrees without stopping, and without resorting to old 'pinpoint turn'. It's not easy stuff, and both the morning & arvo groups applied themselves admirably with several capsizes & a lot of blue language as they contorted themselves & generally performed some kayak pilates trying to follow my directions.
Blade & boat control group
Afternoon surf on the bar
In the evening Shaan gave her talk about the Bass Strait crossing and the dramatic lead up to it in which she suffered a couple of debilitating injuries, had to cancel an original attempt due to bad weather, before finally succeeding earlier this year.

Shaan, all smiles….
Her story is a beauty, with all the elements you'd imagine are required, determination, sheer toughness & careful planning, preparation & risk management. It's a real story of overcoming adversity to achieve something remarkable in the paddling world.
 Colin Sheringham showing some nice surf control
Fernando going hard!
Sharon Betteridge then presented a woman's perspective on expedition paddling, using a 1000km trip from Cooktown to Cape York as her narrative. She highlighted the different issues women face in attempting these sorts of challenges, from the obvious differentials of having a smaller engine to the blokes, as well as some subtle ones such as group dynamics & preparation.
Chris is the crunch zone….as usual
Rob, Chris & I then finished the evening with our North Reef trip, which gave the Klanners some froth to bubble after hearing Sharon & Shaan speak so impressively!
Patonga fun on the Sunday
On the Sunday we headed over to Patonga to mess around in the bay with our demo boats. In the space of three hours a spectator would have seen everything from a 7 year old paddling the Greenland (my eldest daughter Kiri, yes I'm a proud Dad…)
Kiri in the Greenland (thanks to Owen Walton for the pic)
to Greenland style rolling, rescues, beautiful edge control from eager students, capsizes & even a spectacular southerly front, which put an end to the fun right on Fish & Chips O'clock.
Leonie practicing the Haka roll
In all more than 35 people attended throughout the weekend, and despite Klanocopia getting bigger it remains what it was intended to be, a bunch of paddling mates having a good time on & off the water. 
Rob smoking the Baidarka in between the demo paddling
Shaan summed it all up when she made the simple comment at the end of the weekend, 'Hey that was fun'. She was right, it was fun, the weekend had a great community spirit infused throughout, which is something us Sydneysiders don't get to experience too often. I'm sure all who turned up felt the same way.
Selim showing a Mexican bow draw in the Etain
Thanks to all who attended & to Sea-Kayak-Mini-Symposium-Organising-Guru Shawn Armitage for putting it all together.


  1. Nice review of the event, Mark. Thanks for all the EK support and the great instruction. Klanocopia 2012 will be massive so planning will start very soon.

  2. Good one Brad, it was a fun weekend….

  3. Thanks Mark - you summed the weekend beautifully

    Good people, super instruction, fantastic weather, nice venue - it all comes together for a great weekend of fun in the sea.

    "Klanacopia - Its Fun"


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