So What's In This DVD? - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Brett commented on a previous post, pointing out that I hadn't replied to Wenley's question about what the DVD covered. Sorry guys, my mistake. Which I shall correct now.

As I've mentioned before, this is two DVDs in one. One part of it is a four-day voyage up the west coast of Skye by a group of nine paddlers of mixed ability. This can be watched separately, or interlaced with the coaching sessions which wil crop up just as they're needed. The coaching sessions, the heart of the DVD, can also be watched separately.

The titles of the Coaching Sessions and their content are as follows:

Foundations - Body position. Edging and leaning
Forward Paddling - Lower hand. Upper hand. Combined actions.
Turning Pt 1 - Sweep stroke. Calm water. Rough water.
Turning Pt2 - Sweep stroke on the move. Calm water. Rough water.
Turning Pt3 - Bow and cross bow rudder. Braced turn, inside and outside edge. Linking turns.
Steering - Stern rudder
Rockhopping - Draw stroke on the move. Hanging draw. Bow draw. Really rough water.
Tidal races - Breaking in and out. Angle of approach. Confused water. The 'head game'. Exercises, such as eddy line spins with eyes shut

Some people will read that list and think, 'there's nothing new there'. They haven't been coached by Gordon.

In my experience, he can take a subject other coaches have covered and, by the way he explains things or by adding small, significant refinements, takes your knowledge of the stroke to a different level.

There was much more we wanted to cover, but that will come in Volume 2. I hope....

DVD Preview Comments - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Preview copies of the DVD were sent out to some respected coaches, kayakers and reviewers. I'll keep the (very few) negative comments to myself and learn from them. But here are a selection of the more positive thoughts. A huge 'thank you' to all who contributed.

"Dynamic coaching in inspiring scenery. Gordon shows strokes in calm conditions followed by 'oh my god' conditions, displaying the same techniques in both" Justine Curgenven / This Is The Sea

"A perfect blend of education and action which allows paddlers of all levels to pick up inspirational tips." Bryan Smith / Pacific Horizons, Eastern Horizons

“It's awesome. The concept is original, yet is how sea coaching happens in real life - to put it as a DVD package is fantastic.” Doug Cooper, Head of Paddlesport at Glenmore Lodge, Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre

“Fantastic...less like a textbook and more like a documentary"

“A DVD to watch time and again...for both education and inspiration"

"I sat in front of my TV, in a play boat, and learned more about boat handling skills than I have done over the last 5000 miles.” Patrick Winterton / Extreme kayaker

“A new standard for sports technique videos" Ocean Paddler Magazine

"Open your mind to a whole new level of sea kayaking.”

“Great photography, scenery and commentary” Franco Ferrero / Pesda Press

Sea Kayak Venice - in The Guardian

Congratulations to René Seindal for getting his Venice Kayak business into The Guardian newspaper.

Here's a great article by Teresa Machan who clearly had a great time. I've always thought this would make a superb travel article so I'm please someone has written it.

Teresa writes "Unlikely though Venice by kayak sounds, it really is possible. My fellow kayaker Brian, the most diminutive and softly spoken Texan one could hope to meet – and who had never set foot in a kayak before – was living proof that a sense of adventure and an affinity with water counts far more than bulging biceps (although you might have them by the time you've finished). But don't just rock up with an inflatable, as some fools have done. Go with someone who knows and respects the city, understands the vagaries of its weather and tides and, most importantly, obeys the waterways' unwritten rules."

Sea Kayak in Greece

These photos were snapped in just two days as we paddled, first around Despotica, then around Antiparos. There wasn't enough kayaking in the immediate area to keep us entertained for longer, altough we could have ventured further afield, crossing to Paros and Naxos. Next time perhaps.

We rented the kayaks here and stayed in their B&B for four nights. This seems to be a different operation on Naxos, and there's also sea kayaking in Milos.

Review - The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail

I'm completely stunned - in a good way - by the online review my book has been given by Mark Rainsley. I'll link to it properly when I get home (still travelling in the Greek islands) but thus is from the website. Cheers Mark!
I've held back on commenting on this, because I've actually been struggling to define/categorise Simon's book in my head. I've finally decided that writing a formal review of this book is actually more effort than I can be asked to exert, because it would actually be pretty tricky to do justice to what this book achieves.
So I'll just throw a few general observations out there, recommend that everyone buys and reads it, and leave it at that.
Design/layout standards are probably the best I've seen from Pesda/Pete Woods yet, which is no small comment. Only niggle is that there are many small photos that I would have liked to have enjoyed in a larger size. Indeed, while we're on niggles, I had might as well get my only other niggle out of the way - that there is some very mild but unnecessary 'product placement' in the book - e.g. I wonder whether it was appropriate/valid to namedrop the PH Cetus as a stable boat for the journey, and in any case the boat (and tent etc) may well date quicker than the book. Okay, the book. It obviously describes a 'trail' but the odd thing is, reading through, how little it actually feels like that - you don't feel like you're reading a linear ticklist description, and this is a good thing.
Without wanting to go all pseudy and pretentious, I actually felt like I was absorbing the description impressionistically (I *think* that's a real word?). Simon is conveying the sense of journeying more than dryly describing a route. It's also a great introduction/primer on planning a trip (any trip) and enjoying it - 40ish pages are devoted just to this. It's a guidebook, but not in the sense of previous Pesda sea kayak guidebooks – indeed, although present, the nitty gritty navigational/tidal/travel info is unobtrusively tucked away. It's more of an appreciation of the joys of journeying through the area it describes - which happens to be the west coast of Scotland, but ... weirdly, reading this, I found myself not caring too much about the specific location - what I mean is, the writing and descriptions are so fluid and engaging, that I'd have carried on reading avidly, regardless of whether I was particularly interested in making a visit or not (and indeed, the fact that I've already paddled the 'trail' had no bearing either way on my interest level).
What Simon has really produced is a superb celebration of all that is so fantastic about our sport. Reading through reminds me why I sea kayak, simple as that (and indeed, why I set up the UKSKG website).
I can't believe that the guy has produced this after having been paddling just a few years. The jaded curmudgeons who rumble about protecting their sport and their favourite places from 'hordes' and similar nonsense should flick through a copy of this, and be reminded what it's really all about. If above I've completely failed to tell you anything specific about the book, it's because it is so hard to categorise. Just buy it and enjoy it. All credit to the author and all involved, It's no mean feat and I genuinely believe that it is a step forward for UK sea kayaking.

Naxos Kitesurf Centre

I'm still not sure how it happened. We were heading down from the highest mountain in tfe Cyclades, named Zeus after the boss-god who grew up here.  Where to go next we wondered?  Three hours waiting for a bus and we were still wondering. Bouncing down the track that passes for a coast road in the first rental car for which I've actually felt sorry, and we were still wondering. Then we came across this place. 

A kitesurf centre with b&b alongside (it's not a hotel!) and populated by kitsurfers from all over Europe. Leave aside the surfer-dude mentality, ability and physiques, all of which are somewhat intimidating, this id a genuinely nice spot.  With good food in nearby Tavernas.

So we're staying, probably for another week, until it's time to begin the trek home.

As for the kitesurfing, I might be tempted. Although that old skiing injury is starting to niggle....

Hotel Orkos Beach

Sea Kayak Antiparos

This isn't a kayaking holiday, more of a holiday on which we're doing some kayaking. May and June are the better months here, as the wind is now a little strong. Still, we circumnavigated the island yesterday and a neighbouring island the day before. Longer trips are possible, including some tempting open crossings, but these would require more stable wind and weather so will have to wait for another year.

We rented two Prjon kayaks from Vassilis and stayed at his excellent B&B for four nights. Having brought an ultralight tent we were determined to camp and only just managed to do so last night at the end of our trip around Antiparos. The tent is a 'Rainbow 2' by Henry Shires and was needed to keep off the rain.

Now we're heading to the hills. We fancy a hike up the highest peak in the Cycladic Islands, Mount Zia (or 'Zeus'). We've two ferries to catch to get there and then a bus into the mountains.

We have no idea how long we'll be there. If the mood takes us we might continue on to Milos and more kayaking perhaps. We'll see.

It's nice to have no firm plans. Very unusual for someone like me, but extraordinarily liberating.

3,300km Kayak Traverse of The Philippines

This is a great story and possible a great kayaking destination. Full story here.

After ticking off the 'Seven Summits', that is climbing the highest peak on each continent, a chap from Singapore wants to be the first person to kayak the length of the Philippines, all 3,300km. They started 29 August and hope to finish by November.

The Philippines has set itself the target of becoming the 'Kayaking Capital of Southeast Asia', and is considering turning this long route into a kayaking trail.

A kayak trail? That's a good idea.