I’ve been messing about in kayaks all my life but until this year I wouldn’t have called myself anything more than a blow in. After joining Regents this year and going on my first real moving water trips I really have caught the bug.
It might be hard for experienced moving water paddlers to remember how rubbish it can be being a newbie in this sport.
The unknown is something to fear. It’s easy to lose your confidence and to feel like you shouldn’t be on the river with all these other guys and spoiling their run down the river.
We’ve driven five long hours on a Friday after work, the rivers on a scrape, my boat didn’t do what I thought it would do. I’ve gone swimming and now I’m on the river bank, freezing, in a wetsuit. Someone is chasing my boat and paddle down the river. When the boat gets back to me I’m going to have to empty it, get back in and do it all again.
From team sports I know the key to building confidence is to master the fundamental skills of a sport and drill them over and over until they become instant.
With kayaking it not as easy as taking your ball and heading to the park. I needed to find someone who could impart knowledge and a reliable flow of water. You also need a mob of paddlers with similar abilities and goals
So I hired a coach, Jamie from Paddle 365, and gathered a posse. We went to the safe and reliable confines of Lea Valley we drilled the fundamentals moving water kayaking over and over again. Minute by minute everyone’s confidence grew. Over two intense weekends everything became easier and easier.
We then took this confidence and knowledge to the Tryweryn and the Dee. The river that had chewed us up and spat us out before. We did go swimming, not just as much as last time, but the river didn’t make us feel so rubbish this time. We emptied our boats. We got back in. We did it all again.