Sunday, 22 January 2012

A bucket on my head

These days I have my fingers in many paddling pies, I like a bit of surf, some river action, have a canoe, play canoe polo and of course still love sea kayaking.  I don’t have enough time to enjoy them all!

At the moment the nights are long and the weather is poor, I can’t remember the last time I got out in my sea boat, so it’s time to stay indoors in the warm waters of the swimming pool.  We have pool training on a Tuesday and Sunday evening and canoe polo training on Friday nights (and it really is at night).

Next week I am going on my holidays to Shetland to see Up Helly Aa and all my paddling friends.  I first went up to Shetland in 2008 to the symposium, having only been paddling for three months, whereupon I was adopted by several members of the Shetland Canoe Club.  The first person I met was Rachel who, like me, had a small car and a plastic boat, rather than a huge estate car with a uber posh fibreglass number on top!  She remains a great friend and I am looking forward to seeing her next week.

IMGP1147 Jim tears it up at Quendale in November.  I was watching because my finger had only just come out of plaster.  :-(

Anyway, I digress.  A few of my Shetland friends have got really into surf kayaking recently and there is a veritable fleet of Mega Surf Kayaks up there now.  I got into surf kayaking through one of the women's sessions the Scottish surf committee run and this year treated myself to a boat of my own.  My shiny boat will be coming with me to Shetland and I’m hoping there’s surf and weather for a session or two. Unfortunately, I chose a rather ostentatious colour scheme and am rather afraid that someone might set fire to my boat in Shetland because of it……

IMGP1867 The most beautiful boat in the world…..Note bucket on head.

Once I had my new boat, I needed a new helmet.  Because I haven’t surfed the surf boat for ages due to the broken finger, I haven’t yet worn my new helmet.  For some reason, I decided that because, unlike the helmet I wear for canoe polo, or my old black one, the new helmet has no holes in it, it would be much like rolling with a bucket on my head.  This was concerning.

I packed my surf boat in its giant sock and set forth to the pool, with my helmet.  I got in and I rolled.  It didn’t really seem any different from any other helmet I ever wore.  Mackayak said “what did you think would happen?”  I explained that I thought it would be like having a bucket on your head.  She laughed at me!

So I thought, what else can I do now I’m in my boat with my helmet on?  I always think that because the surf boat has such hard rails, it would be really hard to roll but it’s not at all.  I’m not sure whether this is to do with it being very light or having no volume at the back.  I thought I’d have a go at some handrolls.  Why you would want to hand roll your surf boat, who knows, but it’s something to do.  Anyway, that was fine and I did a few on both sides.

IMGP1870 Handrolling – loving the low back deck

IMGP1876  I look like a (happy) miner!

What else could I do? 

Well, on Friday at polo, someone pushed me in when I had the ball (this is allowed) and I didn’t manage to handroll the proper polo kayak I was in.  I did at the end of the session (and then someone dropped the goal on my head so I came up and found myself in a net!), so I wanted to practise a few times.

Fat Boy now lives at the pool so I jumped in and gave him a go but for the life of me could not do a smooth handroll at all.  I could get up but really had to scull with the bottom hand before I did.  I wasn’t impressed.  I shall have to practise again on Tuesday night and then give the Shetlanders’ boats a shot next Sunday when two fifths of the Orkney Voles team invade their canoe polo training night….  I have made a video of my attempts, I don't apologise for the music as it is a tune from my youth.  Those were the days!

Frankly, after all that rolling and climbing earlier, I’m more than ready for my bed now!

Northern Clamberer

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