Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cold out west

I spent last weekend on a 5 star training course with Gordon Brown on Skye. Ken and Sarah, also FCAG members came along too. I don't have many pictures, as my hands were both very occupied and frozen solid. The one I've posted has the Pentax Optio blur, but demonstrates one of the difficult landing scenarios.
Skye was literally freezing with snow lying at low altitude. The temperature added to my anxieties about the course, though as usual it was just extremities which were cold.
The course mixed both navigation training and paddling. Skye has a fantastic range of venues, with something suitable in any conditions. We had a day off Armadale, landing and manoeuvring in the skerries there, followed by a big towing session at Kyleakin. The latter merged into a night paddle, with a lot of work on group management.
The last day was at Kylerhea. Our tidal calculations suggested a flow of 9.5 knots. I find it hard to judge speed from appearances, but it was certainly fast, and with wind against tide gave a roller coaster surging wave train- the highlight of the trip.
Having done the course I'm now questioning whether I really want to do the assessment. It's clearly tough, more so than I thought. The main tip for development was to "get out there in Force 8". My previous approach to trip planning was to avoid Force 8 at all costs!
There would be a marginal benefit for our club in having 5 star leaders, but I suppose the greater motive for doing this is the personal challenge. I think I like having targets to aim for. The next step is probably to go along as a guinea pig on a real assessment, before deciding whether to step up to the mark. Food for thought.
We were being filmed throughout. Simon Willis is working with Gordon on his next coaching DVD. They had spent the week on this, and the final version should have some of us trainees on it. Simon has posted a video of one of our towing sessions on his blog.. He's the only person who is on my iPod who I have ever met, and a thoroughly nice bloke.

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