SK Team Paddler Update Christine Burris
Rogue Wave Adventures Deception Pass intro to currents plus..
Two days before Christmas and we had four students geared up at the beach for an intro to currents class. It is a gift to have students who seek strong foundational skills. Scott, Dan, Joe and Chris had each been to DP before and all had experienced strong currents and eddy lines yet they elected to take the introduction course. One of our skilled RWA Alumni Mark Morel offered to assist on this class, and with three coaches and 4 students it was a perfect opportunity to individualize instruction. On the trip out we had Mark lead, demonstrating positive strokes and eddy hopping along the rocks.
This provided ample time to assess individual strengths and needs. As we engaged in conversations to ascertain goals and concerns an old favorite reared it’s head: whirlpool anxiety. It helps so much to know a specific concern so you can coach students through it directly. As we approached Lottie Bay we engaged in review of specific strokes including active bow draws, stern draws and stern pries which would be applied later in the more aggressive current.
The water was unusually high and in Canoe pass the rock that forms the top of the eddy line was completely underwater. As the flow developed an interesting wave train formed which usually runs near Pass Island but today seemed to move back and forth even to the top of the eddy. We practiced boat control and how to catch a ride in the small glossy waves.
The submersed rock eventually became an over fall, providing a less clean line but more interesting environment to practice reverse peel outs and 360* turns on the eddy.
Max flow was 6.7 knots which is aggressive enough to provide grabby edges. After a surprise swim Joe wanted to try a cowboy reentry and found it distinctly more challenging in the dynamic water. After His repeated attempts and cold swims, I checked the group for energy levels and the response was low.. 2s and 3s except for Chris who wanted to spend more time engaging the whirlpools and boils. So we elected to divide the class. Mark and I led Joe, Scott and Dan down the tongue on the free ride back to Bowman Bay while Bob stayed with Chris for more coaching in the max flow. As we meandered back to the take out we played around with cross bow jams and other fun strokes allowing Chris and Bob to eventually catch up. At the take out Chris reviewed reenter and rolls in the flat water, after which we packed up and headed to Skagit River Brewery for dinner and a debrief. At the end of the day each student was sufficiently challenged. Each had developed new skills and mapped an individualized plan of steps to attain their goals in mastering aggressive currents.
Now it’s time to schedule an RWA play day, maybe between Christmas and New Years to review, reinforce these skills, and take some of those steps..
Christine Burris RWA Senior Instructor