So it’s been ages since I posted. It’s not like I’ve done nothing. The Hunter Kayak Klan is my main project now and I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve with it. Well, not quite. The Klan is gaining not just in strength of numbers but in strength of paddling. We were once rank beginners with beginner boats and kit. Now we are seafaring kayakers with a reputation in our locale of awesomeness. I recently paddled on Lake Macquarie and crossed paths with some other paddlers. After greeting them they asked if we were Klanners and we said yes. They said they read our site but were too scared to join because we WERE TOO AWESOME!!! It’s like we’re the Jack Black of seakayaking. Even a fortnight another klanner and I passed some bathtub paddlers near Pulbah Island. They were like us two years ago and afraid to go to sea. When we told them we were klanners they were suitably impressed. They probably called us wankers as we paddled off but they KNEW we were awesome.
The thing is though, it’s pretty easy to look good in front of newbies. It’s a whole other thing to not look stupid in front of kayakers who really ARE awesome. You have your Stu Trumans and Nigel Dennises of the world and they are stratospheric compared to us. Being in the same ocean as them puts pressure on you. Being in an organized club trip with these guys, say at Rock n Roll, instills doubt in your mind. Can I keep up? Will I look like a noob? The aim of every sport is to be awesome. There’s no other goal. You can say you do it for pleasure or whatever but there’s no pleasure in doing something you really suck at. So what to do? Well, getting someone just as awesome as Stu and Nigel to train us is a good start.
Regular readers (if there’s any left) will know of our connection with Expedition Kayaks’ Rob Mercer and Mark Sundin. Many klanners have trained with Rob or Mark over the last couple of years and improved their skills but now I have formalized this with the annual Klanocopia at Ocean Beach Umina. Sure, it’s a direct rip of Canoecopia in the States but Klanocopia sounds even better than that. This year is the second year of this event and we increased our numbers and the scope of training. The format is in two parts. Saturday is for sea skills training and this year Rob and Mark focused on stroke combination and blending with the aim to ultimately make individual strokes merge into a holistic body-boat action. We were put through drills in stroke combinations and boat control; things we can take home and practice ourselves. Sunday is boat testing. EK bring their fleet of boats they are currently selling and we take them for a spin. Apart from being great fun, it increases your experience with different boat types and EK also generate some sales. It’s pretty social and it’s interesting to get a diverse range of opinions on which boats suit who.
My pick was the Rockpool GT. Last year I hated it largely because of the haste in setting it up for my body and I was exhausted by the time I trialled it. This time I loved it for the comfort and its unbelievable maneuverability. It’s definitely on my short list. I also liked the Zegul 535 which was speedy and had great secondary stability. The Rockpool Taran was an interesting new boat. It is very fast and quite likable but not a boat I would have much use for. I can’t paddle a lot of the real sexy boats because of my size but it was nice to see other klanners enjoying them, or not.
Klanocopia is now our annual event. We are stronger paddlers as a result and are preparing for more demanding paddling. Congratulations go out to Owen Walton and Campbell Tiley on achieving their Grade 3 Sea Skills qualification on Friday. This is a big step on our grading system and adds to the overall awesomeness of the Klan. Klanocopia 2011 will be an even bigger event with more klanners and more Grade 3 qualifiers.
The klan goals for 2010 were to get people rolling, get our seas skills in top shape, and to get Grade 3’s underway. We can safely tick all those boxes. However, we can add more. We now have Hawkesbury Classic veterans, expedition veterans and sound local knowledge of our coast. For 2011 we will aim to get more of the same, to turn Grade 3’s into Sea Guides and increase the size of the klan’s core paddler cadre. We are a long way from a universal recognition of awesomeness but each time we hit a goal we add to our bragging rights.