Weather: SW F5-6 Occasionally F7. Bright sunny day. Visibility good.
Students: Richard Janes, Paul Williams
Student Goals: a) To continue to develop and refine close quarter boat handling skills, specifically to investigate different means of turning in different wind and tide conditions. b) To contextualise the skills learnt during this and previous sessions in ‘bigger’ conditions. c) To develop the ability to ‘shape a course’.
Warm up was similar to previous session beginning with mobilisation exercises followed by gentle paddle in the shelter of the bay, increasing intensity as warm up progressed.
Session moved to the narrow passage to the west of the bay. Here we were set tasks of paddling out of the bay, turning across the wind and swell, returning with wind and tide and performing a turn to turn back into the wind/ swell.
RJ & PW were then assigned separate practices. PW's task was to experiment with different turning techniques and to pay particular attention to the differences in paddling technique for upwind and downwind paddling. RJ was encouraged to experiment with different degrees of edge when turning across the wind. RJ's enthusiasm to take his edging to the limit (and beyond) gave rise to an excellent opportunity for some incident management. RJ performed a successful re-entry and roll and PW was asked to offer assistance if required. RJ took to the water again and PW emptied his boat completely then we paddled to calm waters for a de-brief.
Following a short lunch break we took the opportunity to journey out of the bay and to plot a course around Rhoscolyn Beacon. This allowed Richard and I to shape a course around the Beacon in reasonable swell (which approached 2-3m at times) and to return to the narrow inlet to the west of Borthwen.
Within the relative shelter of the inlet RJ & PW were set the task of paddling a box out of the bay and back again whilst experimenting with both edge and lean to perform a turn across wind and swell. This session was videod and formed part of a feedback session. We then paddled back into Borthwen.
Reflections - Richard: I clearly benefitted from experimenting with posture and made significant progress through adopting a more dynamic posture. The video feedback was useful in this instance in that it highlighted a discrepancy between what I ‘felt’ I was doing and what I was actually doing. I was surprised when looking at the video feedback that I was not leaning forward as much as I thought I was and felt that the video has given me an useful reference point.
Reflections - Paul: One of the most useful reminder for me from this session was the need for a dynamic paddling posture. At times during the edged turn practice I found it difficult to lock an edge. This was resolved by taking a more forward posture and also made it easier to use the forward quarter area for sweep strokes. This was made even more evident on reviewing the video feedback of my performance (this was a very useful learning tool). I was able to observe areas for future practice, namely posture on upwind turns and additional lean and use of an extended paddle for downwind turns. Very useful session for identifying issues relating to ‘shaping a course’. I found that the paddle around the Beacon illustrated the need for more ‘sea space’ as conditions become more testing.
Future Directions: PW & RJ are both of the opinion that at this stage in their development the consolidation of boat handling skills willtake priority. The previous few sessions have been useful in ironing out several major flaws in their performance and made clear some fundamental principles for future practice. PW & RJ are both in agreement that over the course of the last few months their confidence and competence in advanced conditions have improved significantly. They feel it is important to maintain this momentum and are keen to find opportunities to refine these close quarter handling skills.