The annual event of the Hunter Klan Klan, Klanocopia, has concluded for 2011. By any measure it was a great success. Now, I am happy to take credit for a good many things but this time around, I had nothing to do with the planning or success of this year’s show. While it is true that I am the founder of the klan, this no longer has any bragging rights because the klan is now self-sustaining and requires very little input from me other than the administration of the klan website and some helpful suggestions as to the direction we should take.
Since I am a pretty average event-planner, I was thrilled to bits when Shawn Armitage asked if I wouldn’t mind if he did all the work. No, Shawn, I don’t mind if you want to take off my plate a project I was dreading to organize. As it turned out, Shawn is a pretty good event planner. This year we had up to 35 paddlers, 5 instructors, guest speakers, organized dinners and accommodation. He even had banners made up for the klan and a whole bunch of other merchandising to give away.
Klanocopia started as a sponsored weekend of sea skills instruction for a small group of klanners looking for AC accreditation. Now it is looking like a symposium-level annual event. I had this in mind on the first show a few years ago, ably organized by Ben Britten, so I ripped off the name from the Canoecopia in the US. They will probably make us change the name once we get too big!
On a personal level, as much as I loved the weekend and was delighted with the outcome, my physical condition has reached a new low and I was restricted in how much I could enjoy. I was looking forward to some great surfing on Ettalong bar but after Mark Sundin’s advanced stroke session I was too exhausted to do much and made a bee-line for the camp site and dinner. It’s not like I got nothing out of it, I certainly did, but was disappointed at how restricted I was. This was evident on Rob Mercer and Chris James’s rapid rescue session in the morning. I had to do a beach landing on a tricky shore-dumping Pearl Beach due to nausea. Rob came with me to make sure I was OK. Good thing too as I was fading fast and looking to just get out ASAP. He gently encouraged me to keep going to a safer part of the beach and I complied. The landing was fine and I got myself together and was ready to resume paddling. Rob got me ready for the beach exit and we picked the exact moment to get through the dumpers but just as I launched, the water under my boat parted like the Red Sea and a large wave leapt up and smashed forward of the cockpit, submerging the bow and driving me out of the cockpit. It was as thorough a trashing as you could want and I dragged my sorry, bedraggled wreck of a body up onto the sand. Rob was his usual understated and calm self but the humiliation weighed me down more than the waterlogged Assateague. A second go after a few minutes of recovery was much better and I got out without incident and spent the rest of the weekend nausea free.
Kayaking seems to be a step forward and two back. It’s depressing. At 48 years of age it is becoming increasingly difficult to get back into shape. Not impossible but harder. My skills haven’t worsened but haven’t got much better either. I’m still capable of handling rough sea but I feel like I’m being overtaken by the rest of the klan. I know it’s not a competition but this is the benchmark I set for myself. Probably, a good time to think of the things I can do rather than can’t. My forward stroke is getting stronger and better technically, I am still surfing well but need more time to practice in tricky conditions and my experience is growing all the time. I like to finish a year with a demonstrable upgrade in ability and I am well short of the mark for 2011. There’s still time so this Spring and Summer I will be hitting the water and making up lost ground.
Enough of this introspection! Klanocopia was awesome and this is something the klan must be proud of. I feel like a Dad watching his daughter graduate. I gave birth to it but it did most of the hard work itself. My baby is growing up and taking control of its own life and I couldn’t be happier. You can read a review of Klanocopia 2011 on the Expedition Kayaks blog here.