Articles - Get on a Canoe or Kayak Course!

Tom Turner in the green
Tom Turner in the green
Canoe and Kayak UK - Posted on 18 Mar 2009

No matter how long you’ve been paddling, or how much experience you have one of the great things about our sport is that you never stop learning. Booking on to a course is a great way to add new tools to your skills box, or to refresh and sharpen up those that you already have. It’s also a brilliant way to meet like-minded people and to swap ideas.

First Aid
A basic knowledge of first aid is a must-have skill for all paddlers, so a first aid course makes perfect sense. But why not crank it up a few notches and take a more in-depth course. It’s a good feeling knowing that in an emergency you’ve got that little bit more knowledge to help out your paddling buddies in a time of need.

Learn To Roll
Although not essential being able to roll is a very valuable skill to possess, and it’s really not that hard once you know how. There are plenty of courses available for both kayakers and canoeists and why stop at one style of roll, you could learn the front and reverse screw roll, the C-to-C roll or even to ditch the paddle all together and learn to hand roll.

Introductory Courses
Also known as ‘taster’ courses allow you to give various styles of canoeing and kayaking to see if you enjoy it and want to take it further. You’ll learn about the various styles of boat and learn the basics to get you moving on the water. Come rain or shine these are always great fun.

Canoeing or Kayaking For Families
There are plenty of courses now available aimed at the entire family, and what better way to learn and have a whole heap of fun than with your nearest and dearest?

BCU Star Tests
The British Canoe Union runs the coaching scheme in the UK and their Star Test awards are respected all over the world. They range from an entry level right up to advanced paddling in demanding conditions and have been designed to help people progress in to the coaching scheme, and maybe even become a coach themselves in the long run. They are usually run over a single day, or a weekend for more advance awards. As well as actual assessments there are also plenty of training courses to prepare you, and hone your skills for the tests themselves.

Coastal Navigation
An essential skill if you want to undertake your own trips on the ocean. Charts, tides, weather it all sounds rather daunting but a course will help you break it all down, increase your knowledge and understanding and get to grips with those salty sea dog skills.

Safety & Rescue
No matter how good, and careful you think you are, sooner or later something is going to go wrong. Having a solid working knowledge of safety and rescue techniques and the ability to form a plan quickly is a duty that you owe to yourself and anyone that you paddle with. The smallest incident can quickly grow in to a serious event if it’s not dealt with properly, so attending a rescue course is a must.

River Leader
If you paddle with a club or group of friends it makes sense to learn the skills that will allow you to lead a group down the river safely. Paddling styles, group dynamics, equipment, incident management and how to spot and prevent potential hazards before they occur, there’s certainly a lot to consider. It’s often a demanding course but ultimately very rewarding.
Steep Creeking or Freeriding
The style and type of water that modern day paddlers enjoy has changed a lot over the years, and more and more paddlers want to challenge them selves on steep whitewater. This type of paddling demands an additional group of skills and it makes sense to learn them in a controlled course rather than out of control half way down a scary run.

There are many sea kayaking and open boat symposiums that occur around the UK and these fantastic places to meet other paddlers and to learn new skills or take in a skills workshop or lecture, or two.


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