Reviewing Canoeing

Monday, April 25, 2005

Once again, I find myself trying to work out whether or not I’ve “had a go” at an Olympic discipline to a sufficient degree to tick it off the list. Last weekend’s antics have certainly left a mark – several marks in fact – I have bruises all over my knees and thighs from trying to get out of a capsized slalom kayak.

After much thought, I have decided that, far from getting “all eleven canoeing events knocked off in a weekend” as I had originally (and quite ridiculously) thought I might, I have actually completed just one of them to a sufficient standard to tick it off the list without feeling dishonest.

Said event is the K-1 slalom. Under the watchful eye of a man who twice competed at the discipline in the Olympics and now coaches the Great Britain Olympic team, I paddled to the best of my ability on a white water slalom course. The fact that ‘the best of my ability’ involved me nearly drowning twice and managing to go through the grand total of one slalom gate at the very bottom (and least violent part) of the course is neither here nor there.

After much e-mail discussion with Tim, a consensus was reached that any further attempts on the white water would not only be fruitless, but also just downright dangerous. It has been suggested that perhaps a trip down the white water on a raft might be a good idea, to give me a feel for just how terrifying it must be in a canoe. I like the idea of that – from what I can gather, you don’t get quite so firmly wedged into a raft that you risk losing a leg trying to get out of it when things go pear-shaped.

Shaun Cavern, he of the flatwater expertise, suggested I come back to Nottingham another time and have a go in “something a bit more stable” than a fully-fledged K-1 sprint boat. I look forward to taking him up on that offer some time before the summer of 2008. I’d like to at least record a time for the 500 and 1000 metres in order to put the pro’s abilities into some sort of context.

One little factoid that Shaun threw out there that gives an idea of the speeds involved: the top guys can move a K-4 boat sufficiently fast that a young child could water-ski behind it. I suggested we might have more luck if I strapped on a pair of water-skis and let them try it with me – it’s not that I am claiming any talent in that direction, I’m just comforted by the fact that ‘soaked to the skin’ is the state you’re expected to be in by the end of that pursuit.

I’d also like to have a go in a Canadian canoe on the flat. I don’t think they have a beginner’s version of that, so my only chance to complete 500 metres in one would probably be to sink it somewhere deep. If I did it after the K-4 water-ski, at least I’d already be wet.

But for now, in terms of the canoeing events, it’s one down, ten to go – and overall? Nine down, one hundred and nineteen to go. It would be fair to say that I’m a little behind schedule.

The next big event in the diary is the 50 km walk. If you want to take part, drop me a mail and I’ll send you a sponsorship form.

In the meantime, if you have been inspired to give canoeing a go – it’s really not as hard as I made it look I’m sure, and, even if it is, it’s still lots of fun - here are some links that will help you on your way:

British Canoe Union
(Including their guide to getting started)

The National Water Sports Centre

JoJaffa goes Canoeing!


Anonymous said...

From a Slovakian linesman:

Total knight boat mate.