Sunday, November 27, 2016

Go big or go home

Here Neville approaches me heading down wind.

Recently I've been asked to consider some people for an invite to paddle with our group.  The group consists primarily of people who have been regulars at our summer Wednesday evening practices.  There we paddle in whatever conditions exist on the evening and also practice rescues.

One evening in June Cathy, Neville, Terry and I arrived at St. Philips to paddle in some decent conditions.

Neville completely disappears.

The thing about Wednesday evening practices is the group has developed skills to deal with bigger waves and also developed a synergy with respect to rescues.  Any of us are able to rescue any of the rest.  In the event of  the need to do a rescue we know what to do whether rescuer or rescuee.  There's no need to talk through the rescue so it can be completed efficiently.

Neville emerges from behind a massive wave climbing over the top.

One might say, well, invite persons not normally in the group depending on the conditions.  That is all well and good if conditions remain flat.  Should conditions go south then the group is left with a possible situation to deal with.  That could range from cutting the day's paddle short spoiling the day for most or having to rescue or tow placing the rest of the group in possibly dangerous circumstances.

Neville left, Cathy right

For me though, it goes further than that.  Its about paddling with people of the same mindset.  It like birds of the feather flock together.  Our group is not elitist.  We have added people who are just willing to learn and up their skills.  I personally don't want to be placed in the roll of "guiding"; inviting someone and acting as a crutch just so they can get out.

The Wednesday evening practices are wide open to people of all skills from beginner to more skilled.  There, a novice can improve their skills in a supportive environment.  If people don't take advantage of that opportunity and only interested in paddling flatwater then they should form a group that only paddles in calm water.

There's also group size to consider.

Is that mean spirited?  I'd like to know.

Here's a link to a re-edit of a short clip from that evening.


  1. I don't think it is "mean spirited..." My opinion on the subject is quite similar to yours. BTW, I recently read an article that suggests the optimum number of people for effective decision making is 4.6. Since paddling requires much good decision making then that may be the optimum group size. If we round that number to 5 then in an event of a vote there cannot be a tie...

    1. Thanks Dean. Hopefully we'll get more people out to up their skills next year. There's lots of opportunity.

    2. And ... I should add we were pretty quick to pick up Cathy and Shane for our group because they were regulars at practice and have made tremendous advances in developing their skills.

    3. To start, people can up their skills in the pool this winter now that the pool sessions have begun. Then get out to the St. Philips practices next year to transfer pool skills to the 'real' world, then build from there... maybe we'll pick up a couple more die-hard paddling junkies over the next year...

    4. I'm reminded of the saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink". The opportunities are there, its just grabbing them.

  2. Hey Tony, It is not mean spirited, but just might feel that way because it is hard to explain for paddlers who might not have experienced geting caught in conditions that get beyond their comfort level. A beautiful leisurely paddle can turn into a very intense situation in just seconds. The pool is so good to help learn the skills and rescues... and even then, what you learn there is only a small percentage of what it really feels like in the ocean cold water... in busy or confused seas... or swells or cresting waves... or jelly fish or waves from other vessels or fog... etc.... I have been so grateful for the pool sessions and the Wednesday evenings at the cove... and all the generous pouring out of help and instruction from the masters! :) I would not have felt confident in the conditions we have been in if I had not taken advantage of those opportunities... SO THANKS GUYS!!! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!... and anyone who wants to paddle.. come on out to the pool !!! ... and then the Wednesdays!!
    One last word of encouragement for new paddlers.... Now that there are more paddlers with their level 2 certification, hopefully we can plan and invite beginner or less frequent paddlers out on some excursions in mild conditions. Then they might get the bug and aim for the level 4 team !! :)

    1. I'm sure the more experienced guys in the group are happy to have people along who may not be up to snuff so to speak but who are eager to up their skills.

      A good recent example is Shane. For the first little while he spent more time in the water than on it. But he showed up for practices thereby showing he as eager to learn. Now look at him, he's as good as there is.

  3. Haha thanks Tony! All I can say is we paddle in whatever the conditions are so take advantage of Wednesday evenings and the pool. These guys are awesome at teaching and helping so if people want more of a challenge then get to St. Philips on Wednesdays and push it a little. Break the fear of capsizing because it's going to happen and learn how to deal with the situation.
    As Cathy said thanks a lot's by far the most fun I have every week!

    1. Unbelievable the progress you have made in a year Shane, and Cathy. No thanks necessary though because you can thank yourself for pushing the envelope.