Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BCU Level 3 Coach (Sea) Assessment

The BCU Level 3 Coach award aims to provide a minimum qualification for those wishing to be in charge of paddlesport activities for a club or school, supervising groups on ‘moderate’ water. The training and assessment courses are discipline specific – in this case for sea kayaking which includes coastal journeys on tidal waters. 

The purpose of the assessment course is to ensure that all candidates for the award have a sound understanding of both the environment in which they operate and paddlesports generally. Our aim is to create an assessment atmosphere whereby candidates can show their best in terms of kayaking abilities, knowledge and teaching skills.


11 & 12 September - 4 places still available

9 & 10 October - 5 places still available

13 & 14 November - 4 places available

4 & 5 December - final course

Location: Anglesey, North Wales

Cost: £150 (includes £17.50 WCA admin fee) non-residential

Minimum: 3 candidates

Requirements: C1 or exemption letter, first aid, 30 coaching hours

Discount: Available to WCA club coaches and full time students

Please e-mail me if you are interested in attending

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kokatat Supports The Kamchatka Project

Kokatat team member Bryan Smith leads the expedition to conserve one of the wildest place on earth

Kokatat, the 39 year-old independent paddle wear and accessories company is proud to announce their official sponsorship with The Kamchatka Project. Bryan Smith, a long time sponsored Kokatat Team Member, will lead an expedition of six Whitewater Kayakers as they explore the Siberian mountain landscapes of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, one of the last truly wild places on earth, in an effort to raise public awareness of the complex relationships between the place, its people and its fisheries.

Bryan joined the Kokatat team in 2004, over the years Kokatat has frequently sponsored his many ongoing projects that have effectively correlated his paddling skills and passion for environmental concerns. As the founder of Reel Water Productions, Bryan successfully exploits the art of film to inspire his audiences. Titled as the Director/Producer/Principal Camera and Lead Expedition Kayaker for The Kamchatka Project, Bryan’s skill will be a vital resource.

Photographer: Ethan Smith

The Kamchatka Project kayakers will be teaming up with scientists, conservation groups and local Russians to collaborate on establishing the critical date, curriculum and exposure needed to protect the region’s river drainages where one-sixth to one-forth of all wild salmon spawn. The largely unexplored yet lush area is threatened by potential harms such as caviar poaching and industrial land use. The Kamchatka Project is designed to not only create public awareness through all its outlets, including production of aNational Geographic Television show episode, but also contribute to expanding the knowledge surrounding Kamchatka’s ecology and hydrology. 

The Kamchatka Project Expedition departure is set for July 2010. To follow the expedition and learn more about Kamchatka, please visit:

Photographer: Reel Water Productions

About Kokatat Watersports Wear

For the past 39 years, Kokatat has built a reputation as a friendly company of paddling enthusiasts, dedicated to creating innovative paddlewear and accessories. Kokatat is a highly trusted brand known for its independence, high level of quality in addition to an extremely well respected, service-driven business model. Kokatat is an incredibly strong brand and is known for authenticity and launching game changing paddling products.

Please visit and follow Kokatat on Twitter “@kokatat”.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BCU 4* (Sea) Leadership Assessment

This discipline specific test is designed to indicate that the candidate has the skill level to safely paddle and lead other competent paddlers on sections of moderate water. A four Star paddler will have the all round paddling ability, safety, rescue and basic leadership required to undertake trips on sheltered - moderate water with a group of paddlers able themselves to be able to operate in a self-sufficient manner. The new award looks much the same structurally to the old 5 star, but the personal skills and leadership reflect an easier environment. 


11 & 12 September - 3 places still available

9 & 10 October - 3 places still available

13 & 14 November - 4 places available

4 & 5 December - 4 places

Location: Anglesey, North Wales

Cost: £150 non-residential

Minimum: 3 candidates

Requirements: Current first aid, 3* Sea, 1 day BCU Coastal Navigation course, logged evidence of 4* leadership training (Level 3 sea training also fulfills these requirements) plus 10 logged day trips


Discount: Available to WCA club coaches and full time students

Please e-mail me if you are interested in attending

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival 2010

The Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival is a now well established event with a difference in that the theme of ‘paddling lightly’, like ‘treading softly’ on the land, is the underpinning ethos rather than that of skills development. The symposium runs every other year and this was the fourth event of its kind and my third appearance as a guest leader.

The emphasis of the festival has always been about looking after the wonderful coastline that is Pembrokeshire whilst exploring and discovering its natural wonders. With over 70 attendees, the National Trust’s residential centre at Stackpole was a lively hub of activity.

As with all such occasions, the weather plays a large part in what can be achieved and from the outset groups were face with interesting conditions. The first day included a trip around Stackpole Head via Church Rock and Broad Haven to St Govan's Head, having set off from Stackpole Quay. With moderate swell and Force 5 winds it gave everyone a chance to see Pembroke at its wild best without being overwhelmed.

A number of social events where organised to keep everyone enthralled and entertained in the evenings including a wildlife talk from bird expert Bob Haycock and presentations about sea kayak adventures, both local and afar by renowned experts Nige Robinson and Olly Sanders. Other highlights included the famous Stackpole BBQ which is always plentiful and delicious followed by a ceilidh for those still with enough energy to throw themselves around on the dance floor.

The highlight of the weekend for me was a circumnavigation of Skomer Island. This fifteen kilometre trip includes the chance to observe an abundance of bird life (for example, Manx Shearwaters and Puffins), the negotiation of strong tidal flows as well as a feeling of exposure, especially along the west coast. When launching  from Martin’s Haven, there is a sense of satisfaction bypassing the queues of tourists taking the boat trip. However, the journey requires careful planning as challenges occur at the very start where a ferry glide is required to cross Jack Sound with its intimidating tidal race.

We were fortunate on this trip to be joined by Chris Taylor, who is the Warden for Skomer and who has recently taken up sea kayaking as an interest. Despite his growing knowledge of the water around the island Chris, along with all the paddlers in the group, were particular taken by the tide race running from the Garland Stone. With effort and careful paddling in confused waters, everyone was pleased to pass the Mew Stone and rest in South Haven before finishing with a surf in Little Sound before heading home.

The final day of the main event was spent circumnavigating Caldey Island, which is a pleasant trip at the best of times. On this occasion the group launched from Tenby and after rounding the island, landed at Lydstep. An feature about Caldey is that it has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and has been home to various orders of monks since Celtic times. It is now owned by monks of the Cistercian Order.

Before leaving Pembroke, I ran a 3* Sea training day for some of the staff from Stackpole and a couple of guests. David Leathborough also joined us on the water to do some filming.  David, through his business Focused on Adventure, has been commissioned  by the British Canoe Union to produce a series of videos that will set out the standards of what is expected at 3* and 4* across all the paddling disciplines. So keep an eye out for them in the autumn.

Overall, the group had a pleasant time paddling out of West Angle with surfing, rock hopping, rescues and rolling thrown in along with other aspects of the 3* syllabus. Perhaps even one of two movie stars in the making as well!

As for me, Pembroke is not a place I visit frequently so being invited down to be a guest coach is a much a busman's holiday as anything and a very enjoyable one at that. And as one might expect, both my Tiderace Xcite and Kokatat paddling gear served me well throughout.