Another great RnR is over. Here’s what happened.
I got there on Friday afternoon thanks to effortless cruising by Inge the Volvo. Did I mention how I love her? I pitched the Blackwolf Hilton next to Selim then caught up with the Expedition Kayak team and some klan members. Unfortunately, no paddling today as I was a bit late to set up so it was just catching up and meeting new friends like Tom from Elver Paddles.
Friday night is the EK party night which is basically everyone sitting around telling stories and Mark Sundin getting tanked and doing the Haka at someone, this time poor Selim. Sundin completed his haka then proceeded to fall on me and spill his beer in my Sanuk shoes which he claims he loves but I can’t see how. So ended a typical RnR party.
Next morning was the briefing, trips were listed and then a feeding frenzy broke out with everyone trying to get on the trip they wanted with the trip leaders they liked. I got on a trip to the Toll Gate Islands with Keith Oakford as trip leader and John Anderson as the only other klan member. The Toll Gates were calm so we hopped around the rocks and gauntlets with ease. I took an Elver Greenlander and was very relaxed with it although the loom was a bit thick. Nice stick, though.
When we got back Sundin conned me into paddling a Nigel Dennis Explorer to Snapper Island. Although I fit in it OK, it was damned uncomfortable and I had no effective points of contact so I had zero control over the boat. The seat made me pitch back so I couldn’t get a proper forward stroke. After an exhausting trip out I was starting to panic and needed to return ASAP due to serious fatigue. I am not blaming the boat as a correct set up for my size might have made it quite good but as it was it was the worst thing I’ve ever paddled. After this, Sundin further humiliated me by shaming me into paddling his Epic V10 Sports. I paddled surf skis like Interceptors and Cliff Pratts when I was a spindly teen weighing 70kg and superfit but that was 30 years ago and I’m now 110kg and less than superfit. Fortunately, I stayed on but looked like a sack of spuds balancing on a broom handle.
Saturday nights are official dinner nights with our guests doing their talks. We had Ginni Callahan and Beau Miles. Beau gave a talk on his grueling paddle from Mozambique to Cape Town with the movie he made. Ginni was there giving sessions on rolling and boat control. On Sunday she gave an interactive session on trip leadership. She also competed in the rolling competition and demonstrated her excellence with boat handling. She was somewhat upstaged by the astonishing rolling ability of Paul Tobin who has been paddling a sea kayak for less than a year. He is a freak, one of those rare individuals who are gifting with sporting precociousness.
Sunday morning I got on a trip to the southern beaches of the Batehaven region with Chris James as leader. Chris is one of my favourite trip leaders. He has a great manner and a rather beautiful style in the kayak and he teaches at every point. We rocked hopped around rock gardens in a gentle half meter swell and ended up on Lilli Pilli beach with some nice rolling waves. Four other groups met up here and we landed for a rest. I really wanted to surf so I paddled back out with a few others to show my stuff. I caught some nice rides before being trashed over rocks, narrowly escaping injury. We headed back to camp with the threat of a southerly buster behind us. At one particular rock garden Nick Khan got wedged in a narrow garden and exited. Chris talked him through an assisted recovery and had a text book go at it. There was no danger but it was a good little exercise.
At night the Club had its presentation and Ginni gave a talk and video of her business and life. She seems very cool with a totally enviable life. Nice work, Ginni. Another party ensued with Sundin and co. telling pretty much the same stories as Friday night. I know I’m becoming a veteran because I’ve heard a lot of these before and will no doubt hear them again. I am privileged because I even have a story of my own in Sundin’s repertoire. It is about a wave I caught last year at Lion Island. OK, it was a cool ride and I did look good doing it but with each retelling from Mark the ride gets longer and the wave higher. Folklore.
This RnR was characterized by the most diverse assortment of boats every. The Mirage dominance is shattered and now you have skin-on-frames, strip planks, stitch and glues, Valleys, Impexes, P&Hs, Australises and yes, even Mirages. The paddle diversity is just as wide with quite a few Greenlanders and several taking them out to test. Cape Boat Works was there as was Nadgee and Sea Leopard and Australis. However, it is EK’s stand that s the main congregation point and there’s no surprise why they now own the sea kayak market. Anyway, I’m not going to revisit that subject again unless I’m getting paid for it so all that’s left to say is that RnR was as good as ever with 13 klanners present and the klan carrying with it a good reputation.