Following on from the traditions of coastal Scandinavian fishing communities, Storm Gatherings have become a means for like-minded people to get together and celebrate a fruitful and rewarding summer on the water with some excellent paddling in often challenging conditions and unparalleled entertainment in the evenings before the long winter nights take hold.
The 6th UK Storm Gathering took place on Anglesey in October, and was followed by BCU Week that included both BCU 4 and 5 star trainings and assessment courses. The weather was true to form and kicked up a fuss with southerly Force 6 winds building to Gale 8 in preparation for the weekend. Undeterred, however, 90 paddlers from across the UK and Europe including participants from Switzerland, Sicily, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden converged on Anglesey Outdoors for an action-packed symposium.
The coaching team was also expansive in terms of nationalities and experience. Helen Wilson, Paul Kuthe and Warren Parker from the US along with Axel Schoevers from Holland joined the likes of Jeff Allen, Justine Curgenven, Steve Graham, Ollie Jay, James Stevenson and Phil Clegg in providing some excellent on the water workshops. A special mention goes to Nick Cunliffe, who tackled the tremendously difficult task of coordinating participants and coaches each morning based on some very exciting sea conditions.
Locations such as Rhosneigr, Trearddur Bay, Penmon, Bull Bay, the Menai Straits and even Llyn Padarn where used for a variety of workshops including incident management, open water rolling, rough water handling and surfing amongst. Participants were stretched and challenged, but tired smiles and laughter over a beer in the Paddler’s Return suggested that the event was living up to expectations. Paddlers were clearly thrilled that they had faced conditions that they would not normally have gone out in.
Each evening was filled with activities and entertainment too. Friday night saw Jim Krawiecki, with the help of Barry Shaw, Kate Duffus, Andy Morgan and Roger Chandler presented a series of short films and slideshows to get people in the mood as they arrived. Nick Cunliffe and Matt Giblin put on a sea kayakers pub quiz on Saturday night that combined elements of a celebrity quiz show, trivia rounds and various embarrassing party games. Sunday night had everyone gather at Rhoscolyn School to hear Jeff Allen present ‘Into The Wind’, the epic account of a record breaking circumnavigation of Ireland he completed with Harry Whelan earlier this year.
A tremendous thanks go to Kokatat, Tahne Marine and Tiderace Sea Kayaks for supporting the event in a numbers of ways including raffle prizes, demo boats and promotional services. Appreciation also goes out to Joe O’ Paddles, the Fat Paddler, Mitchell Blades and Bluewater Kayak Works for donating some wonderful prizes to the raffle also.
Well done to Jim Krawiecki and Journey Man for winning the prizes donated by Fat Paddler. To Alan Trevarton for winning the T-stick and Norsaq donated by Joe O' Paddles.To Graham Dudley for winning the MisFit Tor PFD donated by Kokatat Watersports Wear. To Mark Eldridge for winning the Freedom 500 pump donated by Bluewater Kayak Works. Finally to Sarah Wootton for winning the Atlantis paddles that was donated by Mitchell Blades. Neil Turnbull was the lucky recpeint of a Kokatat Storm Cag after his video diary of the events was judged to be the winning entry.
Overall, it was great to see everyone getting stuck in and relishing the opportunity to experience some really rough water. The UK Storm Gathering symposiums are gradually becoming the event to attend for anyone looking to paddle in some amazingly dynamic waters in the company of some superb coaches. See you all on the water again soon.