This weekend was the second Scottish Women’s Paddle Symposium based in Findhorn in Moray. The aim of the event was to encourage the participation of women in paddlesport by providing a female only environment in which ladies could learn without pressure.
This year, I was asked to coach on the sea kayak team which was a massive honour but also a little bit daunting! It did mean I got a red hoody though!
Red hoody invasion!
On Saturday, myself and Anne led a 3* trip from Lossie to Hopeman. The conditions were good 3* conditions so the ladies were challenged but all looked happy and confident in their boats. With the wind and swell running the way it was, we talked a little bit about surfing along the waves to use the conditions to our advantage and also thought about how the boats handled in the conditions. Having rounded a sandbar on a headland, after a bit of inspection, we paddled in closer to the shore to see some more scenery. It wasn’t a day for getting in caves though.
Lunch time came and I went scouting on ahead to find a landing spot. None were great and after checking out two or three, I found a friendly sandy beach and came in without incident. I radioed Anne and she sent the ladies in one by one. Surf landing was a new challenge for many of the ladies but they all did brilliantly.
Once safely on the beach, we talked some more about surf landings and launches and about how to read the conditions to make things easy for yourself. We all had a look at the map and saw where we had been and where we were heading to.
After taking a minute to chat about how we were going to launch again, everyone prepared to get back on the water with me going on ahead as a marker to launch to (and to take the photos!).
As I waited for the ladies to come out, I heard some definite whoops as they came over the waves. I think they enjoyed their surf launches! With Anne safely on the water, we set off again towards Hopeman with the wind and waves behind us.
After a nice meal in the Royal Findhorn Yacht Club and winning a t-shirt in the raffle, it was time for an early night and preparation for Sunday.
Sunday morning saw Kate Duffus, Carol Laing and I head back over to Hopeman for a spot of rockhopping. We each had a group of 4 and worked with them on the strokes and concepts needed to have fun about the rocks. The conditions were not ideal as the NE wind and swell were still coming in and the rocks were a bit bottom scrapey. After thinking about a few strokes in the shelter of the harbour, we went out side to find some rocks. Conditions were a little bit too much for what we wanted to do so we retreated round the other side of the harbour wall and spent a bit of time manoeuvring around a rock using combinations of strokes. We then headed down the coast and played around a few rocks, thinking again about timing and how to approach what we wanted to go through. All the ladies had a go in and around the rocks, despite feeling not feeling hugely confident at the beginning.
In the afternoon it was back to Findhorn Bay for a session on rescues with Alison French and Aggie. We started by running through the rescue on the shore with me getting to play the casualty while the ladies worked out how they were going to rescue me. We then split into smaller groups with me taking Lynn and Rebecca. We worked on peer rescues and talked a little about towing and assisting others. The tide was whoosing out of the estuary so putting a tow on the rescuer was actually a useful thing to do for real! We finished by emphasising that emptying boats and rescuing should be physically easy and that it was all about finding things that work for you and practicing them.
Soon the day, and the event, were all over and after another round of boat wrangling, it was time to head off home.
I think everyone would agree it was another great event so well done to the organising committee! Roll on 2014!