By Jim on Saturday, June 2, 2012
2nd June 2012 and out we go, off CronullaBeach in Sydney's south, for yet another Mykayakcoach runners clinic. The focus for this clinic was getting all paddlers to learn how to relax whilist paddling in the ocean. What I see time and time again is paddlers lose their confidence and paddle so slow in the ocean they become tippy on their craft and fall in and all confidence gone.
So the goal for ths clinic was to beable to paddle better in the ocean, cross chop, rebound and runners. To achieve this I had to help all paddlers learn how to relax in the water. The reason being is, when you are not relaxed you wobble in the ski and wait till you fall. Having the fear that something might happen to you and that you are going to get into trouble, when in actual fact if you paddle to your ability you are more than fine.
So we started off by paddling out into the swell and concentrating on making the ski work best for us, by that I mean not having your ski lift up as you go over the highest point of the swell then come slapping down at the back of the swell. This makes you lose all your boat run. Imagine how many times that happens when you paddle for an hour or more. So what I was showing all paddlers was how to slightly steer their craft to the sides of the swell so they could maintain boat run as best they could.
From there we moved on to the most feared and difficult part of paddling - rebound. Altough yesterday's conditions didn't offer enormouse opportunities for rebound work, there was enough to start us off. This is where a quick drill was needed to help us all relax, lean out of the boat sideways and then wobble your knees together. This lets you relize that you can roll around in your craft without falling out. This is the feeling that you will feel in the event of rebound. We were dealing with southerly swell, then rebound pushing straight out to sea. The other thing that is a must is to relax from under your rib cage to your hips; this makes it so much eaiser for you to roll with the ski. When paddling near the rocks I always look up ahead, you need to look out for, small reefs, rocks that have small waves breaking on them, also any areas you may get uncomfortable dealing with. It is always better to paddle a little wider and feel safe then trying to run the gauntlet and getting into trouble.
After a few attempts back and foward on the rebound it was time to go out and test whether anyone was listening on the shore about how to manage swells, more importantly choosing the right lines. Sure enough when we went out to sea and caught the runners back to our point which we would treat as our finish line, all paddlers paddled with the southerly swell and ended up well off coarse. One of the main reasons Oscar won the 2012 Molokai was he was a thinker, he landed right at the right point making him paddle less klms to the finish line. Anyone can go training, anyone can catch runners but many fall short when it comes to thinking about what they are doing whilst catching runners. After a quick chat about choosing the right line and thinking about all of the aspects of being a good paddler, we nailed our finish.
With one last paddle out to sea and the fun of catching the runners back to our starting point it was a very fun and rewarding day for all.