The Pacific Ocean can always promise one thing… unpredictability, which of course means that participants at this year’s Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium shouldn’t have been surprised by the heavy rain, crazy wind and even the tsunami warning. The website for the event states, “Spring tides and powerful Pacific swells will ensure challenging conditions for even the most seasoned paddlers.” No kidding!
I arrived at the Marin Headlands Hostel the evening of February 25. Friendly and familiar faces surrounded me. That’s one of the things that I love about symposiums, they often feel like family reunions. The evening was relatively mellow. Coaches met with one another to discuss final plans for class formats. Duane Strosaker and I would be teaching a Greenland style class together on Friday and Sunday and spent some time working on the agenda.
Working with Duane was an absolute delight. We began our classes with a warm up, then Duane taught strokes, while I taught rolling, and in the afternoon we played in current and the famous Yellow Bluff tide race, which I had never before seen quite so “active.” Back at the hostel we worked with interested participants on rope gymnastics, a fitness and training program for Greenlanders when the weather is too cold to practice rolling a qajaq (the traditional spelling for kayak).
On Saturday I helped out with the Mastering Boat Control class, and enjoyed working with several instructors on skills that I am not used to teaching. The class had a strong emphasis on strokes, and students spent the morning figuring them out on flat water, and the afternoon using those same skills in the dynamics of wind, waves and current.
All in all, the event was a huge success. Thanks to Matt Palmariello and Sean Morley for pulling off an amazing symposium with a real emphasis on skill development. I look forward to next year’s event.
For more pictures, please visit the Gallery.