Sean shares his experiences from his recent Moderate Water Endorsement Training…

The background

Moderate Water Endorsement training is the second step after becoming a UKCC British Canoeing Level 2 coach. The first is British Canoeing Four Star Assessment in the chosen discipline. Getting to this point fells like a maze of bureaucracy and red tape but once you get here it all seems a little clearer and the hoops you’ve jumped through to get to this point all seem a little more aligned than they at first seemed.


More paperwork, planning and pleading

After the paperwork involved in getting through my Level 2 coaching qualification, I felt it was time to get on with some actual coaching. Yes, there is a lot more of actual coaching this time round but there’s still the inevitable paperwork and keeping my paddling log up to date. I registered with British Canoeing for my Moderate Water Endorsement (MWE) Training and was issued with another half a tree of guidance, assessment criteria and course materials. It’s a lot of reading and preparation.


I had originally planned to do my MWE with my friend Jess but unfortunately she moved on from this world and I had to take the next step on my own. I wish she could have done the training with me as it was such a fun weekend and having done our 4 Star Assessments together, I knew we would have had a blast together.

The weekend was originally meant to take place in Mid Wales but due to the lack of water, it was moved last minute to the Tryweryn in North Wales. A quick beg and plead to Clarissa and I managed to squeeze into the cottages she’d already hired in Llangollen for her peer paddle weekend.


The course itself

The weekend started with a briefing and talk about what to expect from the two days. Our first session was a peer paddle on the Upper Tryweryn (aka in Regents’ folklore as the “Upper Upper”) – we had to come up with very quick sessions demonstrating our coaching and observational skills. Surprisingly, we then ran the rest of the Upper down to Cafe Wave, each taking turns to run sessions on the way down – lots of fun but slightly weird turning a peer paddle into a coached session – it felt weird coaching fellow paddlers of similar paddling ability. It was also a little odd to be coaching in an over-remit environment – it kept us on our toes but was most definitely a valuable learning point. We then learnt some more on feedback and observational skills including use of video feedback. We finished the day with being handed out homework – I had not expected homework and was knackered already from eight hours of learning and paddling. We each had to write up a 30 minute lesson plan incorporating coaching skills, observational and feedback skills.

The Sunday started bright and early. First up was handing in our homework for review – thankfully I got positive feedback on the lesson plan. Next up – onto the river! We were going to run the Lower Tryweryn each incorporating some leading time and then “park and play” sessions as we went to deliver our prepared sessions. The day was long. We did some safety and rescue recap over lunch and each delivered our sessions with some great feedback from each other and from Matt, our head coach.

The end of the day came and I was prepared for a lengthy debrief and a hefty action plan. Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough on myself as my action plan was pretty much to just get on with the assessment. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome!

I learnt loads about how to apply the various coaching techniques on moving water and had a great time on the water at the same time. I’m looking forward to my assessment but not the paperwork pre-work that needs to be done first!


River Dart

Steffi recalls her British Canoeing 4 Star Kayak training…


In the spirit of Bah Humbug, a small group deserted the Christmas Dart trip and instead completed their BCU 4* training. Sean, Olga, Clarissa, Gemma, Ian and Steffi headed off to meet Dan and think about their paddling. The 4* is split into three different aspects – personal, leadership and safety skills.

Day 1 was spent spend on the Dart Loop with the main focus on personal skills. And in that respect, it was the ‘little things’. When have you last thought about moving your hips forward and keeping your head up to give you a more efficient power stroke? Dan spied on all of us, there was no escape. It just shows you how much there is to learn. We talked a lot about meaningful warm ups – again, something I had not really thought about much before. Now, after a playful warm up, I notice a difference in mindset and physical readiness. So, much of the day was spent with ‘brain storming’, surfing, stopper work and experimenting with different lines on the features.

We spent Day 2 on the Lower Dart from Buckfastleigh. It is a lovely section and I really think we ought to take some beginners down there – there is so much to play and practice on. And the landscape is just as pretty. Anyhow, the day’s focus was leadership and in that we experimented with different styles of leading. Again, I don’t think I realised there was so much more to it. Leap frogging, pairing up in different ways, defining an area within which to paddle to keep control of the group… lots!! We talked about signals – no signal, no move. I thought signals would become more complex with each extra * training but it turns out to be the opposite. And to add more fun, we all had to think about games and activities to keep the group in good spirits – spinning on eddie lines, breaking out backwards to mention just two. It all helps to build up skills. Another trick for leading: the leader faces downstream with the group facing upstream. Why? It ensures that any nervous paddler is not too busy looking at the feature ahead and instead helps them to focus on what is said. And finally, safety. I really think I need to go on a refresher White Water Safety & Rescue course. My rope work is really lagging behind. Another tip: copy and laminate the section of river you are paddling and keep this with you. If any issues occur, at least you know where you are and can give emergency services your grid reference.

What’s left to say? A very inspiring two days!


Steffi shares what she learnt from her recent Wilderness First Aid training…


A bunch of us congregated in Whittington Park for a First Aid update. The BCU requires coaches to keep their First Aid certificate up to date, but to be honest, it’s in my own interest to refresh my memory and ensure I know what I’m doing. It’s also worth noting that every year things change – CPR being a good example. And if that’s not enough, it’s usually good fun to mummify each other and look ridiculous. We had fake fractures, open wounds and even fake blood to ‘play’ with. Good job we were hiding behind the bushes and not screaming for help too loudly. These courses have a habit of raising the attention of the public. And you may not be surprised to find that most people just stare with confused and suspicious looks.

Why Wilderness First Aid?

Well, some of the rivers we paddle can be remote, meaning; emergency services cannot easily access the area within an hour from definite medical care. Given the sport we all enjoy, we usually focus on aquatic specific rescues. There are statistics for everything, so, we do know what injuries us kayakers are more likely to experience and this is why we try and prepare ourselves. So, having that knowledge, we can put together a relevant first aid kit.

That said, it’s easy enough to put a small first aid kit together, even if you have not completed a course. Get a dry bag and stick some plasters (I like Lidl’s waterproof plasters which are almost as good as the hospital ones – I speak from experience), antiseptic wipes, a couple of bandages, a triangular bandage, Steripstrips, a bit of tape (gaffa tape!!!), some antihistamines, painkillers, a notebook and pencil (you can get waterproof ones). In addition to this, carry some sunscreen for those rare sunny days, some sweeties, water or a thermos and a spare thermal (for those very common grim days). And whilst it’s not a first aid related thing, keep those whiskey corks and stick it in your kit as they make great replacement bungs!!!



Wondering when is the best time to do it? My suggestion, once you completed the beginner’s course, it useful to go on a First Aid course. There are several people who have organised these courses before and can lend a helping hand to put you in the right direction. And with facebook you are most likely to find a number of people who think the same as you and would like to get onto one. And whilst we’re at it, you may also like to consider a Foundation Safety & Rescue course (Christine is running one at the club fairly soon and I believe there is going to be a minimal cost to cover some expenses) and a White Water Safety & Rescue course. And don’t forget – you are entitled to a 40% club subsidy in return for writing an article – as we know these things don’t come cheap.


Images by Steffi


Pool sessions continue at Britannia Leisure Centre, 7pm until 9pm, head down to practice your T-rescues and rolls before you get on the river.

Cost: £10 for Members – Card only

Some pool session are open to those looking to join the club. To find out more and book a space, click here.

Pool sessions continue at Britannia Leisure Centre, 7pm until 9pm, head down to practice your T-rescues and rolls before you get on the river.

Cost: £10 for Members – Card only

Some pool session are open to those looking to join the club. To find out more and book a space, click here.