Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wild water and beeg waves

I'm learning to paddle a single kayak (K1) - I say learning because I can paddle it, but I'm not quite comfortable yet. Then again, when one has been paddling a big fat Accord double and a hefty seakayak, it is little wonder that I don't feel 'as' stable.

So last week I'm chatting to Nicholas Mulder asking how long it will take before I feel 'comfortable' in the K1. I seem to recall a time in the Accord double where I felt a bit twitchy and I'd wondered the same thing. In 2008, training for Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, I had a defining moment during a session where I realised that I felt competely at home and comfortable on the water. I've been comfortable in the double ever since. In the single I was twitchy but have settled in a bit - not completely.

So, Nic replies that compared to the Accord you never feel as 'comfortable'. I asked whether those pro paddlers in those toothpick kayaks feel 'comfortable'. He didn't think so. Well, they look stable at least. I wanna feel 'comfortable' - afterall I'm in a Javelin, a beginner/intermediate (more beginner) kayak.

On Saturday I got on to the water at Germiston Lake in the early afternoon. My first lap went well, but about five minutes into the second lap the wind picked up - fast. You know that pre-storm Joburg effect where the wind suddenly starts howling before the rain starts pelting down? Yeah, same thing.

By the time I got to the far end of the dam I was dealing with waves... with white caps... and they were hitting me side on. A few cunning zig-zag manoeuvers saved the day and just past 'golf course corner' I turned almost competely into the wind - just the way I like it.

Wooohooo! What an adrenalin rush. The kayak sliced through the water, bumping through troughs and up crests. The wind was howling, whipping up the water and blasting into me. I loved every minute, nary a wobble, nary a wiggle and, dare I say, I felt 'comfortable'. I made it off the water just before - like a minute before - the rain hit. I was pumped!

Tonight Alex and I took the double out. I'd been looking forward to getting into the double - we're very stable in it, even on rough water; it is heavier so it is harder work to paddle; and because I'm so comfortable in the double I have the confidence to really put my back into paddling so I get a great workout.

We got on to the water a bit before 6pm. Again on the second lap the wind picked up, blowing across the length of the dam from the east (like on Saturday) and whipping up the waves towards 'golf course corner'. Side on waves are no problem in this boat and I was delighted to turn us into the wind at the top buoy. We blasted through waves that broke over the hull and on to my lap. What a rush!

The water was relatively calm at the clubhouse end. We started our third lap on water that appeared calm. Fortunately it was pumping at the far end and we pulled out the horses to power it down the straight. Now, four hours after getting off the water, I can still feel the session in my arms and back. Wow! Great paddle Alex.

Germiston is the kind of lake where the water can be really flat but when the wind is blowing, it can get wild.

I dig big water on Germiston - adds a lot of adrenalin to what could have been a routine session on flat water.

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