Me on a course? And a rolling course at that. Anyone that paddles with me regularly will know that at the mention of a bit of rolling practice at the end of the trip that I will be the first one out of the water. I can roll, I have a very strong roll, and I am fairly confident that if I did need to perform a roll in anger I would come up. That is however the problem....
I am not 100% confident I will actually come up if the time came, especially in the conditions that are likely to tip me over such as a big tide race. Therefore I am not completely relaxed when paddling in rough condition and have a slight fear of having a wobble and taking a dunking.
So when Neil and Kevin mentioned that Cheri and Turner of Kayak Ways were down in Pembrokeshire for the weekend I booked on a course straight away. If you have any interest in the traditions of Greenland kayaking you will probably be aware of Cheri and Turner and probably own their rolling DVD 'This is the Roll'...
So me and Kevin met up in Pembrokeshire on the Saturday, both booked in on the course on the Sunday. We based ourselves on a camp site in Parrog Newport, which was a short carry down to the waters edge.
We dragged the boats down on to Newport sands and bumbled along the coast a short distance to Cwm-yr-Eglwys. The small sheltered bay offered the perfect opportunity to practice some rolls before tomorrows training. I for one needed the practice, apart for the odd roll in the surf I hadn't purposely rolled since I last visited the pool, and that was sometime between 2-3 years ago!
Well you can't come a away for the weekend without visiting a few of the local watering holes.
Me and turner running through some rolling techniques.The meeting place for Sundays course was in the small bay of Pwllgwaelod. We met with Cheri, Turner and the rest of the attendees including Neil where we did some land based exercises before entering the water. Greenland rolling is a bit of an art, almost like a marital arts of kayaking. It's not about using brute strength to force yourself back into the upright position. It's about letting the kayak, paddle and your bodies own buoyancy do most of the work for you. Get all three in the right position and the kayak will right itself with very little effort.
Apart from rolling a few of us were interested in learning the correct techniques of the use of the Greenland paddle including forward and turning strokes. One thing I have definitely benefited from is the canted forward style paddling.
Since the course I have continued to practice my rolling and paddling techniques and now I am the last to leave the water after a days paddling. My confidence has improved ten fold knowing that if I do go over, I will most definitely come up again. One things for sure, I am enjoying myself and it has put the fun back in to kayaking.
A huge thank you to Cheri and Turner for providing the course and I hope you will come back to join us again in Pembrokeshire. I highly recommend if you get the chance to book yourself on a course you do it. More information can be found on their web site here....http://www.kayakways.net/