Archive for December, 2013

Happy Holidays From Greenland or Bust – 2013

The evolution of a Greenland kayak

In 2009 I was contacted by Tahe Marine to discuss becoming an ambassador for them. I had tried their kayak called the Greenland, and loved it. The kayak looked, felt and performed like a west Greenland skin-on-frame kayak, and a good one at that. I was not aware of any other similar Greenland-style composite kayaks on the market, and I saw it as a huge breakthrough. I was thrilled to be representing the kayak.

The Greenland.

The Greenland.

In 2010 Mats Von Wowern, a distributor for Tahe Marine, organized a Nordic tour for me and Johan Wirsen, the designer of the Greenland and the Greenland T, as well as several other kayaks, sailing boats and rowing boats. The two of us drove from location to location, with me teaching rolling and doing demonstrations, and Johan teaching kayak design. During the three-week tour, and many hours in the car, Johan and I became good friends.

Johan and Mark talk kayaks.

Johan and Mark talk kayaks.

In 2011 I returned to Scandinavia to do another teaching tour. Johan’s busy schedule only allowed him to do part of the tour with me, but it was great to see him and to catch up. In 2012 Mark and I did the tour together, and in 2013 we took over the organization from Mats and created a tour that included classes in everything from rolling to strokes, and we even threw in some BCU programs.

The end of the first Nordic tour… in the car, which is where we spent a large part of the tour.

The end of the first Nordic tour… in the car, which is where we spent a large part of the tour.

During each trip to Scandinavia, we visited with Johan. Happy memories were formed during wonderful conversations with him at his dining room table, around the barbecue in his backyard and on his sailboat, which he built himself. It’s always great to see him and to hear about what he’s been up to.

During one conversation with Johan he told us that he was going to start his own company, Rebel Kayaks, and start with the production of his two Greenland models, the “Ilaga” and “The-T,” which were the names that he’d always intended for what became known as the “Greenland” and the “Greenland T.” He has made some manufacturing changes to the kayaks, including putting in a smaller skeg, and laminating the skeg box together with the hull.

He asked Mark and I if we’d become ambassadors for Rebel Kayaks. We are thrilled to announce that we have accepted his offer. This decision was made for several reasons. First, the Greenland is the kayak that I was originally impressed by, and it was the reason that I became an ambassador for Tahe Marine in the first place. Second, Johan is a wonderful person and a good friend. He has put his heart, soul and a ton of money into designing several kayaks that are now recognized worldwide, and for good reason. We have full faith in the quality of his kayaks, which are being manufactured by Aquarius, located in Poland, and we can honestly say, he’s a real kayaker, an awesome person, a great designer and a good friend, and we want to support him and his new company, Rebel Kayaks. We hope that you’ll join us in this support.

Johan, Mark and I enjoying a sunny day in Sweden.

Johan, Mark and I enjoying a sunny day in Sweden.

In conclusion, this year’s Nordic Tour will be supported by Rebel Kayaks, and our company, Greenland or Bust. The tour has grown from its original length of three weeks in 2009 to three months in 2014. We are excited to be going back to Scandinavia and representing Rebel Kayaks. If you’re part of a club, school or organization that would like to be included in this tour, e-mail info@greenlandorbust.org. For more information on Rebel Kayaks, visit www.rebelkayaks.blogspot.com.

BCU Open Water Navigation and Tidal Planning: March 23, Anglesey, Wales

Date: March 23

Location: Anglesey, Wales

Description: The aim of this one-day classroom based training program is to give participants the necessary tools to plan and navigate effectively on open water journeys in advanced sea conditions. It is suitable for paddlers wishing to improve their seamanship knowledge and ocean awareness in order to undertake challenging journeys that may include islands over 2 nautical miles offshore in areas of strong tidal movement of 3+ knots and/or winds of up to force 5 .

Upon completion, each participant should have planned at least two journeys involving open crossings that they can take home as reference for further personal trip planning. This course is designed to compliment areas covered in the BCU 5 Star Sea Award and is a prerequisite for the training course.

The course will include the following aspects:

• Interpreting sources of information required to plan trips.
• Vector calculations and applying them to open crossings.
• Tactics for negotiating coastlines with no landing zones and /or tide races and overfalls.
• Advanced pilotage techniques in poor visibility or hours of darkness.
• The role of the coastguard.
• Planning tasks and practical exercises.

Prerequisites: Completion of a BCU Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course, or recognised equivalent.

Contact: For more information, course fees or to register, e-mail info@greenlandorbust.org.

Qajaq Immersion Day: March 23, Anglesey, Wales

Date: March 23

Location: Anglesey, Wales

Description: Join Helen and Mark for a full day of Yoga for Paddlers, Simplifying the Greenland Roll, Simplifying the Greenland Stroke and Ocean Skills. Rolling topics that can be covered include first rolls, other-side rolls, layback paddle rolls, forward finish paddle rolls, norsaq rolls, hand rolls and beyond. During the strokes part of the day we’ll examine the principles of power, pressure and posture as they relate to the Greenland paddle. The techniques examined in this class can be used with any type of kayak.

Contact: For more information, course fees or to register, e-mail info@greenlandorbust.org.

Intermediate / Advanced Leader and Trip Planning Training: March 24 to 28, Anglesey, Wales

Date: March 24 to 28

Location: Anglesey, Wales

Description: This five day program is designed for sea kayakers wanting to develop their skills and awareness in more challenging conditions, as well as for those who wish to become qualified leaders in this environment. We will cover the essential leadership, personal paddling, navigation and safety skills necessary to enable participants to fully prepare for their BCU 4 Star or 5 Star Sea Assessment.

Through on-water and classroom based activities, the program will explore the principles of planning / anticipation; communication / group management; route choice and positioning. We will be using local venues to Anglesey including tide races and offshore islands, although some travelling maybe necessary to make use of the weather and sea conditions. Completion of the program will lead to a personalised action plan in preparation for any future assessments or personal paddling goals.

The following areas will be covered:

Personal Paddling Skills

• Launching and landing
• Efficient forward paddling
• Effective manoeuvring and boat control
• Navigation on the water and in poor visibility
• A range of self-rescues
• Rolling in rough water

Rescue Skills

• Application of appropriate rescue skills
• Different towing methods

Safety, Leadership and Group Skills

• Application of leadership principles
• Leadership strategies, judgement and decision making
• Safety awareness and risk management
• Group control and management tactics
• Paddler welfare and community building
• Incident management

Theory

• Equipment
• Safety (including coastguard and rescue services)
• Weather
• Hypothermia / First aid
• Access
• Planning
• Group awareness and management
• Navigation
• General (and historical)
• Leadership responsibilities
• Water features / hazards

Prerequisites: BCU 4 Star standard.

BCU Information: For syllabus details, visit the BCU website.

Contact: For more information, course fees or to register, e-mail info@greenlandorbust.org.

DGI Sea Kayak Winter Festival 2014: January 17 to 19, Jutland, Denmark

Date: January 17 to 19

Location: Jutland, Denmark

Description: This will be a fun weekend in the cold quiet season. This year’s event is the most comprehensive winter festival to date, with exciting workshops. The instructors are Jeff Allen, Mark Tozer, Helen Wilson, Sonnich Nielsen, Klaus Wessmann and Michael Sørensen.

Contact: Registration begins Monday, Jan. 2. https://events.dgi.dk/start.aspx?an=201409513018. For more information, e-mail michael@city-map.dk.

Crook of the Elbow Roll

Question: When I try to do a Crook of the Elbow Roll, the paddle shaft floats up out of the grip of my arm. How do I keep it in place? Grip it harder?

Answer: Unfortunately, simply gripping the paddle harder won’t help. Keeping the paddle shaft in the crook of the elbow has to do with torso rotation, and for this roll, flexibility plays a huge part. When performing the roll with a right side recovery, during the above water set-up position the paddle needs to be in the crook of the right elbow and hooked over the left side of the bow of the kayak. If this rotation feels easy, then the paddle should stay in place throughout the roll. If this rotation feels difficult, then the paddle is likely to slip up the arm toward the wrist during the roll itself. The best way to increase the necessary flexibility for this roll is to practice it. Over time flexibility will increase, and the roll will become easier. – Helen

London, Anglesey and a 5 Star Sea Assessment

After the Storm Gathering, Mark and I made our way to the Lee Valley White Water Centre, to run rolling classes for Kayak London. This was our second year running classes there, and it was great to see some returning participants. Everyone braved the icy cold water, but other than the cold, it was tons of fun. The white water part of the 2012 Olympics took place there, which makes it feel like somewhat of a novelty. Our classes ran in the incredibly clear pool that the white water courses drop into. Thanks to Mattias Altin for hosting us!

The Lee Valley White Water Centre.

The Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Yoga is a great way to warm up.

Yoga is a great way to warm up.

Learning to roll.

Smiles are important while learning to roll.

Mark describes the roll.

Mark describes the roll.

A successful Balance Brace.

A successful Balance Brace.

A good set up is key.

A good set up is key.

After the weekend at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, we headed to Anglesey, Wales for a few days of rest, relaxation and preparation for the following weekend. We celebrated the U.S. Thanksgiving while we were there by going for a paddle and then to dinner. We paddled to Porth Wen, and made our way around the stunning headlands to the old brickworks. After exploring, we paddled offshore via Middle Mouse and let the current carry us back to the launch site at Bull Bay.

The chickens exploring our van clearly didn't know we were debating what to have for Thanksgiving dinner.

The chickens exploring our van clearly didn’t know we were debating what to have for Thanksgiving dinner.

A day off on Anglesey.

A day off on Anglesey.

The old brickworks building make a great backdrop for an afternoon paddle.

The old brickworks buildings make a great backdrop for an afternoon paddle.

Wales is filled with very cool abandoned places to explore.

Wales is filled with very cool abandoned places to explore.

Once all of the play was over, it was back to work, and we hosted a BCU 5 Star Sea Assessment with assessors Nick Cunliffe and Fiona Whitehead. The weather turned out to be just right, with sufficient wind to run the assessment, as well as spring tides. Candidates showed their skills in places such as the Skerries and Penrhyn Mawr, and the assessment included night paddling, which followed a gorgeous sunset.

A great day for a 5 Star Sea Assessment.

A great day for a 5 Star Sea Assessment.

Rocky landings can be fun.

Rocky landings can be fun.

Pember mawer

Penrhyn Mawr

A gorgeous day to be on the water.

A gorgeous day to be on the water.

A gorgeous sunset.

Sunset.

Good planning is very important in a tidal environment.

Good planning is very important in a tidal environment.

This week I headed back to California, where we have classes scheduled for the next four weekends.

Greenland or Bust’s December Newsletter

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