Extended paddle position??

Everything becomes a problem when
it crosses the pond. It seems that here in “the colonies”, we can’t do anything quite as well as the British :wink:

British experts
Krousmon, you are so correct. I was at the first Maine sea kayaking symposium in 1982. The arrogance of the British experts coming to bring knowledge to the unschooled was nauseating. I was so put off by their attitude and dismissal of any other way or idea than theirs that I stoped considering sea kayaking for many years.

One made it clear that if you ventured off the coast in anything other than a Nordcap you were risking your life. My long legs would not fit in the very small ocean cockpit without hyperextending my knees. While some small or flexable people can fit in, I couldn’t without damage to my knees. My size 13 feet were also an issue.

Another made it clear that anyone who wasn’t using a 90 degree feather paddle was a rank amateur. There was NOT a detailed explination of how to use a feathered paddle, it was more like just do it like we do because we are the experts. Derick should continue to do what he does best, tell amusing stories about what he did 25-35 years ago, not give outdated advice to the present. The Greenland and Aleut paddles do not have a 90 degree feather and yet they have worked for many hundreds of years, probably thousands. A 90 degree feather paddle will also work if your wrists can take it, mine couldn’t. My now aging body loves the narrow blade of Aleut and Greenland paddles.

Lest anyone think I’m anti British, my maternal Grandparents immigrated from England. Nigel Foster is living proof that not all British experts are arrorant. He also is the best kayak teacher I have seen and the only person I’ve seen that can make a kayak dance. Last, I paddle an Explorer as one of my kayaks.

Nigel Foster… and now Americans
Well, Nigel Foster is a very gracious, sweet, and witty man.

These days, you will find a significant number of Americans as the featured presenters at a good sea kayak symposium. Take a look at the lists of presenters from the 2004 & 2003 Gulf of Maine Sea Kayak Symposium.

The only two featured Brits I encountered both years there were Nigel Foster and Steve Maynard. Steve is an extraordinarily skilled paddler and coach (5 Star Sea Coach) and while not as sociable as Nigel is understated and observant.

Brit experts
Wilsoj2, I was at GOMSKS 05. It was there that I observed Nigel teaching and demonstrating. I was blown away and had to confront my anti Brit expert bias. I have signed up for a class with Nigel in two weeks and am looking foward to it.

Did meet and talk with Steve Maynard and agree with you that he seemed understated and observent. Didn’t see him teach, but felt he would be very good after talking with him.

There are some truley gifted coaches here in NA and over in the UK. Unfortunately there’s no way to know who’s good and who’s a horse’s arse without some personal experience to help determine which is which. As other have correctly pointed out in other threads, certification in and of itself gives little indication of the real quality of an isntructor and certainly cannot speak to someone’s ability to inspire other paddlers to learn.

If I can see any path through the bramble, it’s to first remember that these people are only human and certainly have faults just as we all do. This being the case it is possible to learn bits and pieces from different people even if we cannot agree with them on every issue.

DH is a perfect example. He is a fine and accomplished padldler, prone to broad statements that may not fit well with every paddler. But when you examine the why’s of what he preaches, you can catch a glimpse of some greater truth hidden deep beneath the gross generalizations that he wraps around the pearls of wisdom.

I’ve taken classes with Derek and assisted at classes that he has taught. While he doesn’t have to broad appeal of a Nigel Foster or Tom Bergh or Steve Maynard, he has probably forgotten more about paddling a sea kayak than I may ever know.



Pearls of wisdom

I agree that DH has certainly paddled and accomplished more than almost all of us and likely forgotten more than most of us will ever understand.

However that doesn’t make him or anyone else with similar accomplishments a superior instructor. What’s important in an instructor is to decide what the learner need to know next and how to deliver that information or skill clearly, in a simple supportive way. Some experts can and some can’t. When I’m looking for “pearls of wisdom” I don’t like to have to sort through a dump truck of oysters to find it. If DH is your cup of tea, find your pearls there, I prefer less shucking.

If you think about it…
…DH’s Toksook and 90 degee feather accomplishes the same thing that a GP does. There is no top, bottom, left or right to the paddle and when you need to orient the blade, you grab it the same way on either side. Zero and 90 degree feather both accomplish this, as long as the paddle blades are symmetric.

DH and Nigel Foster
Yes, Derek can be a curmudgeon and I don’t agree with much of what he teaches, but I have to admit that he’s largely responsible for getting me into kayaking. Watching him perform in a swimming pool was truly inspirational. His grace on the water and charming persona convinced me that sea kayaking was something I had to try. Yes, he has his flaws, but I’ll bet he’s responsible for getting more beginners into the sport than any other paddling “celebrity”.

Nigel is equally as witty and charming, albeit in a different manner, but I find his more analytical approach to paddling to be much more to my liking. He makes it a point to explain the dynamics of water, kayaks and paddles so that his students come away not just with new skills, but with an understanding that enables them to determine the best approach to handling their boats in any set of conditions.

Both of these men have their place in the spectrum of sea kayaking instructors and I’m glad they’re there.

Was Kayaking A Year…

– Last Updated: May-04-05 9:03 AM EST –

before I saw Nigel teaching a class at Lake C. I paddled by and thought to myself, "Oh, that's Nigel Foster." After noting it, I just went on my way. I was out to paddle not to watch someone else. Never saw DH. Can't say anyone inspired me to paddle. Guess it may be the white water paddlers who used to paddle through my favorite flyfishing seciton of the Androscoggin. Rather than be annoyed, I always took it as an opportunity to take a break and watch them have fun.

I think some folks just give it a try and decide they like it. It's true that DH probably forgot a lot more than I may ever know. But, seriously, I really don't give a darn. I am having fun learning and discovering on my own. How DH, NF or anybody else do it really doesn't even cross my mind. For me, it really is irrelevant. I think it's funny when folks drop "names" and say "He said, she said, blah, blah..." Forget about that. What can you do in the types of water you paddle on is what's important.

Different strokes, different folks. :)


ACA APW coming up

You probably already know this, but there’s an ACA Adaptive Paddling workshop coming up in June in Durham, NH.


I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years, and this year the timing worked out. I’m excited.

I’ve done a little informal teaching, but I’m suspect this’ll be a good stretch for me. Any advice/suggestions for a prospective instructor?

Leaping ahead, I was thinking about rolling without the use of one’s lower body, and it seemed that some of the greenland extended-paddle techniques might lend themselves to that. The GP might also focus attention on technique rather than arm strength. Do you have any experience teaching beginners with a GP versus a euro paddle?

When’s your event scheduled ofr this year?

best wishes,

Peter Burghardt