Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kayak Polo Nationals

Last weekend was the U.S. Kayak Polo National Championships hosted by my old club down in L.A. I went back to play with the team one more time with the goal of medaling this time after several fourth place finishes in the last few years. There were eight teams in the A division but only four of them were actually U.S. club teams so our odds were pretty good.

Since I now live in Folsom there was no way to really get the team together for practice. And most of our guys are getting a little old in the tooth. So our rusty group had a few challenges to overcome. We started off with a victory over the Ft. Collins club - they were even rustier than us. Then we tied the defending champs - a great result for us. Then another tie with a Canadian team before heading into the second round robin. Our next game was the key to get into the top tier for the tournament but we lost to a random assortment of folks by one goal. Then we lost to the Canadian national team by one goal (they ended up winning the tournament) and finally lost by one goal to the east coast guys. While we got dropped down to the bottom bracket for the tournament in the end we ended up playing the Ft. Collins team once again for third place out of the U.S. clubs and we won. So we got our medals but definitely a frustrating tournament for results. Maybe next year?

More pictures and video below:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A little bit further

After a trip over to Anacapa a couple weeks ago I came back down to SoCal to go to out to Santa Cruz Island. This crossing is about 21 miles (vs. 12 for Anacapa) but went just as smoothly. Again it was just me and Pedro so everything was easy.

We didn't see as much wildlife this time - a couple of large dolphins came by but not much else. Once we got to the island we spent a full day just playing around the caves near Scorpion Beach. This has got to be the easiest place to get into some really deep yet friendly sea caves. We met a couple other paddlers in little boats who had taken the ferry over just to explore the caves - their boats worked a little better than ours for the task but I always enjoy the the caves more if I've paddled over to them.

Here's some more picture and the video is below:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

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Friday, October 9, 2009

The Paddle that Wasn't

Sometimes things don't work out and sometimes that's OK. I was suppose to run the South Fork of the Feather yesterday but after driving up and camping out overnight the third paddler (with the all important second vehicle for shuttle) never showed up. Apparently he had truck problems and couldn't make the drive. The two of us up there could have possibly have worked out a shuttle with some other boaters but we would have gotten a very late start and had to hike out halfway down the river. Since I haven't done any serious whitewater in four months and the other guy had never been on the run we elected to just do a little sightseeing and head home. It may not make an exciting story but it beats the alternative - having an epic story to tell - possibly with a sad ending. I'm happy with my call...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to the old grindstone - so to speak

Of course, my grindstone is actually the South Fork of the American River where I get to teach people how to kayak. The last several months I have been doing a lot of paddling but not much teaching. Now I'm back in teaching mode and excited to get to share my sport with new people and help create more paddlers.

And with whitewater kayaking it's especially challenging to find that line between having a fun class and teaching skills. While it is often fairly easy to lead folks down fun rapids (which they tend to really enjoy) the truth is that the necessary skills are really best learned practicing in flat water and simple eddies. I always try to focus my teaching on the long term results - I assume that my students are going to keep paddling and I want them to have good habits and good technique that will serve them well for the rest of their life. But you also have to throw in some fun to get them hooked and realize what the sport has to offer. It's a balancing act...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More memories relived

Continuing my travels down memory lane I met up with some of my old buddies from UCLA's Marina Aquatic Center for an afternoon paddle out of Marina del Rey. We just had a nice little paddle to Santa Monica pier and back. That is the beauty of MDR - easy paddles, getting away from the city, having a relaxing time with friends.

Some more pictures and a little video here.