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Practice, Practice, Practice

All the major coaches were at the dude ranch this morning. There was a lot on the schedule – a river trip, a trip to the Statue of Liberty, a kayak class, an SUP class. However, clients failed to materialize for half of these activities, and so I was nicked by one of the senior coaches for a practice trip to Morris Canal.

The highlights? As usual, a bit of role-play,with me as the trip leader bringing across two paddlers at the top of my ability to teach. I caught some major helicopter prop wash, which was awesome. I paddled deep into the Morris Canal, and got some clarification on some stern rudder techniques and cros-bow rudder practice – not to mention tips on group management, trip leading, and finding lessons to teach on the way.

The key point to the first is that as a coach, or instructor, I have to tailor my style to my students’ abilities. Most of my instruction has been to new paddlers, but dealing with somewhat experienced paddlers is a completely different style. There’s less micro-management, and the teachable moments are completely different.

As far as the prop wash went: there is a helicopter landing pad on the waterfront, in front of the Goldman Sachs building (appropriately enough). It’s possible to paddle underneath that pier, which is topped with what is more or less just a metal grate, which allows air to flow vertically.

Our lead coach led us underneath, to a choppy area he likes to practice in, and I was passing directly below the landing platform right as a helicopter came in. Oh my God, it was like five seconds of intense weathercocking – all of a sudden my boat was being pushing sideways and downwards. I actually edged towards the spray, and when I came out, my left side was soaked and my right side was dry. It was an intense experience.

In the canal, we talked a bit about traffic, and did some more lessons and learning. We went back behind the marina, to where it becomes marsh before hitting a dead end. We paddled back and took a break for lunch.

We did have one client, a woman who had bought a boat and some kit but did not have a lot of experience. We took turns teaching and demonstrating techniques. I learned a little how to make kayaking seem fun. By the end though, the other assistant and I were practicing rolling and rescues. Turns out my forward sweep roll is better than I thought.

It all flows out to the sea.

Published in 2013 Backpaddle NYKC


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