Surf Training, Ardrossan, Saturday 15th September 2018

Paddlers: Geoff, Gordon, Steve T.

Weather: Grey and windy (F4)

Location: South Bay, Ardrossan

Report: Surfing must be the very best activity ever on a windy Saturday in September. Normally undertaken in short maneuverable craft, sea kayakers occasionally find themselves having to land or leave through surf. So surfing in sea kayaks gives a combination of tremendous fun and sea kayak training.

South Bay, Ardrossan is an excellent place for safe surfing. It is a crescent of soft sand of around 1km between two rocky headlands backed by grass with easy beach-side parking. We parked right behind the toilets in the centre of the beach by the ramps on to the sand. Advice: Take a trolley as it can be a longish walk over the sand.

The car journey in both directions was excellent and took about 70 minutes.

The beach faces south west and we had a strongish force 4 from the South West. The tide had just turned and was on the way in over the shallow beach which resulted in extensive but not huge surf over a very large area, giving long runs. One of us was stationed on the beach the whole time to help with any capsizes (and to take photos).

South Bay Beach
Kayaker at edge of breaking surf waiting for a run in.

The paddle out was energetic and wet with kayaks either riding the waves or carving/smashing through them.

Geoff and Gordon on way out
A wet one
Steve making his way out
Geoff on way out
Still Paddling Out

Trying to figure out which waves would give a good ride was difficult as big waves were too frequent and broke too readily. The tactic used was simply to keep paddling and try (desperately at times) to hold the line. Normally on a run in you caught a big one and hurtled towards the beach  as long as you could hold it with your selection of stern rudders , low brace supports/turns and high brace supports.

Gordon on Run In
A run in
Stern rudder into support stroke
Steve on way in

Gordon on run in

Both Gordon and Geoff experienced very wet (upside down) exits and rather slow swims back to the shore. Equally we all had great runs and the satisfaction of conquering a hostile and at times quite frightening environment.

Smug after a great run

We had around 90 minutes for both morning and afternoon sessions, enough to get in around 16 runs each, more than enough. All in all a near perfect day.




Training May 2018

The Beginners and Intermediate Thursday night training trips continued through May at Lomond Shores, Craigendoran and on the 17th at Kidston. The last of these was a perfect night with sun and no wind; a little different from the aborted trip last year. Youngsters Paddling on the 17th were: Rowen, Jessica and Jenny (Int) plus Cammy, Alex and . Leaders: Steve T., Allan, John and Geoff

Training: Loch Long June 22nd 2017

Paddlers: Tom, Mollie, Euan, Geoff, Colin, Gordon, Kerry, John, Sheila, Adam,Holly, Allan

Weather: Low Cloud but no wind. Occasionally damp.

Report: The midges hastened the rapid departure from Finnart on an overcast and almost windless evening. This was the last of the Young Beginners training paddles but sadly only 2 of the 5 on the course made it. A leisurely paddle over to Mark, a quick inspection of the bothy (everything OK) and then a paddle up to the mouth of Loch Goil. Three seals joined the cruise. Another leisurely paddle back to Finnart completing an attractive and relaxing evening.

Holly and Sheila with Colin in background
Holly and Sheila with Colin in background
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Training, Lomond Shores 5/5/17


Tim, Rowan, Molly, Melani, Amy, Kerry, Robbie, Thomas, Sam
Tim, Rowan, Molly, Melani, Amy, Kerry, Robbie, Thomas, Sam (photographer  Geoff)

Weather: Beautiful but strong easterly at start of evening

Report: The second evening of the Young Beginners Course was beautiful but with a strong easterly wind. Paddled over to the marina where we got a little shelter and practiced Sweep strokes, Rudders and Low Brace turns. Then the return into the wind to the lagoon  which proved a real challenge for some of the smaller paddlers. After Draw Stroke teaching and practice on past the Maid into the river and then on the Balloch Castle pier.

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Heading North to Castle slip
Heading North to Castle slip

A short interlude at the pier, which included play in the icy water, and we returned to the beach for further play (and a roll from Sam).

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A simply lovely evening.

Training, Saturday 8th April

Paddlers: Robin, Maelle, Chris; Geoff Steve W.

Report: No photos for this one. Met at Luss with two training groups. Group 1, coached by Robin, was training for the 2 Star Assessment. Within the club our focus is on kayaks which leaves a gap for the skills assessment in the 2 Star and subsequent entry to the coaching stream. This morning was intended to start filling that gap. Group 2 undertook a shortish tour round the islands for those finishing the Basic Skills course and wanting to move on to longer sea trips. It was a cold, dry overcast day but,as ever, the beauty of the loch shone through. Another lovely trip.

What Happens after the Basic Skills Course?

There have been questions asked about what happens in the way of trips and training after the Basic Skills Course.

Star Qualifications: If you manage to get on the outdoor trips then Basic Skills should have taken you up to a 2 Star level in Kayaks. However you also need to reach 2 Star level in Canoes to obtain the award. Robin, who will be the assessor, is offering to take you towards this level in canoes this coming Saturday, 8th April, 10am at Luss .

If you want to do the training this Saturday (8th April) you must let me know as we need to organise canoe transport. Robin will not assess for the 2 Star until he is happy with what he sees. If he does think you are ready he will arrange an assessment. Note that the 2 Star is the normal target for the DoE Award.

The 3 star is discipline specific. It requires both experience and skills such as rolling. If you have done Hugh’s Sea Expedition Training, can roll and have been on a number of trips then you will be at or over 3 Star (Sea) and can go for assessment on one of the organised SCA Courses. If you fancy working on rivers (or surf or open canoes) then you should sign up for 3 Star Training as well as the 3 Star Assessment.  The open sessions in the Pool are intended to help you develop the skills.

To find Courses look at the SCA events calendar and use the filter to look at Star Award courses only. For example there is a 3*Sea Kayak Training and Assessment Course in Stonehaven this coming weekend.

Foundation Safety and Rescue: This is a course for all. The club will run one on Saturday May 20th, probably at Arden. Details to follow.

Coach Courses: If you fancy coaching (and we hope you do) then you need to start with a Level 1 Coach Course. The pre-requisites are the 2 Star and Foundation Safety and Rescue. The club has provisionally organised a Course for two weekends in July but needs to discuss this  with other clubs to ensure minimum numbers. Sports Scotland support is available to assist with costs.

Trips: There are two sorts of trips: Club and Friends. One of the aims of the club is to bring people together who simply want to paddle. Members on a Friends trip are peers and the trip has no official leader. It is understood that each adult takes total responsibility for themselves alone. A Club trip is normally a training trip and the leader will ensure that the members are of an appropriate standard, carry out the risk assessment and ensure that appropriate equipment is carried.   There is a day trip this Saturday (8th April) for anyone who has done the Basic Skills course meeting at Luss at 10am.  You must let me know ASAP if interested.  After Easter there will be regular Thursday evening Club paddles.

Club Sea Kayak Expeditions are for experienced paddlers who have completed the Sea Expedition Course including  the Open Water Safety element and a non-stop paddle of 12km. Each paddler must be properly equipped with flares, splits etc. The next planned Sea Kayak Expedition is 29th/30th April.

Leader Training: The BCU/SCA has just introduced a qualification stream for leaders and over time the Club will be hoping experienced paddlers will go for the qualifications.  The 4 star, to be renamed, is the middle level of this stream and is the obvious next step for a 3 star paddler who does not really want to coach.

Young Persons Basic and Other Training May/June 2016

The training started in earnest this month. Hugh started off with an evening paddle for the Sea Kayak Expedition programme to the Sugar Boat on the 4th with Geoff, John R and Sheila.  The following evening 18 Beginners and other members met at Luss. Robin and Tim took the least experienced along the shore and up the river, whilst Geoff headed off to Inchlonaig . On Wednesday  11th Hugh, on an evening with a strong F4/F5,  took Jeanette and Francis (and Geoff) along to Rhu Spit to experience wind against tide in the narrows.  A lumpy experience.

On Wednesday 12th 19 gathered at Lomond Shores. The strong wind, which had been a feature of the last two weeks, thankfully died. The youngest (Alex, Jamie & William) with Tim and Stewart T. concentrated on building up some strength close to the lagoon area. The other 14 (Allan, Ross, Stewart, Rosie, Bella, Adam, John, Sheila, Paul, Mathew, Jenny, Rowan, Kerry, Geoff) had a mix of paddling, stroke development and ball games. A lovely evening and a useful training session.

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For reference the Training Programme:

HCC-Beginners Course


3rd Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

5th Thurs 6.30-9pm – Luss, River and Basic Skills (No Euan)

10th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

12th Thurs 6.30-9pm – Lomond Shores, (No Euan)

17th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

19th Thurs 6.30-9pm – Luss, island trip and seal launching

24th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

26th Thurs 6.30-9pm – Kidston Park-Rosneath Caravan Park

28th/29th  2pm – Noon  Canoe Camping Trip, Loch Lomond

31st Tues 7:30pm – Pool session


2nd Thurs 6.30-9pm – Finnart (Loch Long)

7th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

9th Thurs 6.00-9pm – River Leven trip

14th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session

16th Thurs 6.30-9pm – Canadian Canoes @ Royal Northern (No Geoff)

21st Tues 7:30pm – Pool session (No Geoff)

23rd Thurs 6.30-9pm – Canadian Canoes @ Royal Northern (No Geoff)

28th Tues 7:30pm – Pool session (No Geoff)

30th Thurs 6.30-9pm Kayak Polo @ Craigendoran Pier (No Geoff)




Beginners Course, Luss 19-09-2015

Paddlers: Geoff, Euan, Lee, Tim, Allan; Findlay, Sam, John C., John R., Sheila, Jean, Gordon

01-2015-09-19 10.07.03

Weather: Beautiful in morning, clouding up in afternoon. No wind.

Route: Luss Beach, Luss River, Inchtavvanach , Gull island, Luss Beach


The Mouth of the Luss
The Mouth of the Luss

After the normaal bit of instrcution and practice we moved south from the beach to the entrance of the river. It was extremely shallow on both branches but everyone coped well and we managed to get well above the bridge.  We then exited and made for the beach on the north end of Inchtavvanch where we had lunch.

03-IMG_4341After lunch we paddled back to seagull island to practice seal launches. These proved very popular with the younger particpants.

07-IMG_4350 08-IMG_4346 09-IMG_4348 04-IMG_4342 05-IMG_4344 06-IMG_4345 11-IMG_435310-IMG_4352Following the “launches” we had a quick paddle over to the beach and finished with some rafting games. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and hopefully instructive morning’s work.

Basic Training October/November

Basic Skills Training continued in the pool under Euan’s guidance. A Canoe session took place at RCYNC which, after a panic over an absence of paddles, proved very successful (Sue, Stuart, Sam, Alan, Tim, Geoff, Robin and Euan in attendance).

The Paddle Round the Islands on 1st November was moved down to Lomond Shores on account of the forecast Force 6 gusts (F4 prevailing). The group (Alan, Tim, Robert, Sam, Stuart, Elaine, Geoff, Robin,Tom &) had an enjoyable paddle in sea boats up to Duck Bay and return without mishap. After a boat swap (Sam into a small boat and Robin into a canoe) we then set off for a paddle down river. Going down the strength of the flow was not apparent but on turning a number of the beginners had a struggle. Sam, in her small boat, had particular difficulties and needed a bit of assistance. As soon as the long boats disappeared  there was a capsize under tow causing some problems. However it was all eventually sorted and the 4 small boats successfully returned. A good time was had by all.

On the next two Saturdays Robin took on the role of 2 Star Assessor and Tim, Alan and Sam achieved the award.