On 23 July a small group of paddlers took an afternoon trip to the Nene Whitewater Centre to try their hand at whitewater paddling. We had arranged a private 3 hour session: for beginners this entailed 2 hours of coaching followed by 1 hour free time; and for those who had already passed the Nene assessment, 3 hours free time to develop their skills.
You may well be asking why a flatwater racing club would do this: well whilst most of our races are described as 'flat' water, anyone that’s paddled at Bedford knows exactly how ‘unflat’ that is. There are many skills that can be learnt on different water and in different boats, for example, how to present your boat to sidestreams flowing into the main river and how to cope with the unexpected. Many times I’ve been following a boat that suddenly goes sideways as a sidestream hits them because they don’t know how to anticipate it.
The lesson was all based around having fun on the water. Starting at the bottom of the course learning the best way to present the boat to flow and which way to edge. Moving up the course to learn about paddling down small drops. And finally moving to the top of the course and facing two medium drops and one large drop (not as terrifying as expected - in fact pretty exhilarating). Everyone was bouncing up and down, rolling upside down and roundabout every which way, adding to their determination to master the new techniques.
It would be fair to say that all gained a lot that day and there were big smiles all round.
See the rest of Andy's photos of this event in his Nene Flickr album