Garden State Sea Kayaking Symposium

I had a great time teaching at the Garden State Sea Kayaking Symposium last weekend.  Despite Tropical Storm Andrea barreling through Friday night, the weekend was mostly dry on land, but we definitely got wet on the water.

Saturday am was a scaled down version of my “Life on the Edge” course — a “graduate level” session on edging and bracing.  The highlight for me was the unplanned synchronized capsizing of three students, who happened to be in a row.  They all tried the same exercise, and all three went over, like a row of dominoes. Then they all rolled back up with smiles.  Winner!

Saturday afternoon was Surfing I/II, and with the large surf from Andrea later became an advanced surf zone rescue course.  Here’s a key takeaway if you’re starting out in the surf zone.  Often you have to punch through a breaking wave or a wave that’s just about to break.  The ideal is to paddle hard toward the wave, tuck your body low to the deck, almost like the setup for a roll, and push through the wave.  As you push through, your front paddle blade immediately goes to the forward stroke and you keep digging to get through the impact zone.

What most newer kayak surfers do, however, is a very natural reaction.  They push through the wave, then sit up straight, take a second or two to catch their breath, and shake the water from their face.  They’ve lost all momentum, and are now sitting right in the impact zone for the next wave.  Try not to stop after that first (or second or third) wave — just keep digging hard!  Relax, clear your eyes and celebrate on the outside of the impact zone :-).  Keep paddling until you’re sure you’re past the breakers.  Trust me on this one!

Sunday was a great intro to surfing session in the morning, followed by surfing I in the afternoon.  Great conditions and students who were eager to learn and ready to push themselves.  I look forward to next year!