Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Surf's Up

This year, my first in retirement, I've dedicated to really skill-ing up.  This might sound a bit strange. I've been paddling seriously for over 20 years, I've had lots of training (BCU 4*, ACA Level 3 coastal instructor), and I've  guided and taught kayaking for years.  I've had amazing adventures; trips to Maine, Newfoundland, Lake Michigan, the Geogia coast (inside and outside), not to mention all my WaterTribe Challenges.  In fact many would consider me a fairly skilled advanced paddler.   I consider myself an intermediate paddler.

Most of my regular paddling, week in and week out, has always been flat water.  I live 3 hours from the nearest beach and at most my coastal paddles were only occasional each year.  Yet my passion is really ocean paddling; I love salt water, lumpy bumpy water, and I love camping on the beach.

I've a long bucket list to start working on, and it's looking like much of my plans may need to be solo. I'm a safety girl, so I've given myself a year to completely skill up.  For me, this means really working on rough water and surf skills, and more navigation and incident management education.   This will not really be work, just lots more fun :)

This past weekend was about surf.  I met Tom Noffsinger at last falls Kiptopeake Sea Kayak Symposium.  I'd signed up for the symposiums advanced classes which included 2 of Tom's classes. Turns out, Tom is one of those instructors who I describe as extremely thoughtful, gentle, and graceful on the water.  As an instructor, Tom's personality really worked well with my not so quiet and gentle personality.  He didn't just teach us 'how to do something', he explained, demonstrated, THEN watched and assesses what' we were doing, then was able to communicate what he saw and what was needed in a way that was just a great fit for me.

Later that weekend, I asked about further instruction with him, and described my interests (confidence and comfort in 3-5ft surf).  This week I finally started working with him again.  He'll mentor me with 1/2 day class every couple of months, then send off with homework and things to work on.  This week along with my friend and paddling partner  Lee, we met Tom in Virginia Beach and had a wonderful session with him and his friend Drew (Tom's regular surfing partner).

That's my helmet sticking up back there as I surf a wave and start to bear off it, the wave in front makes it a bit hard to see me yet gives a good example of conditions, mostly 2 ft, an occasional 3 ft.  This spot was a bit different than much of the inlet play I'm used to.  Primarily a dumping shore break with a 2nd break right in front of a sandbar that's also very close to shore.  The rides were short and would require a bit more work on maneuvering, which is exactly what I'm wanting to work on.

One of Lee's great rides below.

Thanks Tom, can't wait for our next session.

This next weekend I'm off to the mountains for a weekend white water clinic with the Carolina Canoe Club.  After 30 years, I'm also going back to a bit of white water.  Seems to me all the best sea kayakers I know came from a white water background.  It's all part of the fun of skill-ing up :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Which boat did you use? Looks like fun. :)

Ken P (in Aus)