It's been a couple weeks since the event but I've been on vacation and just found the time to sort through pictures and put some thoughts together. Paddle Golden Gate is an amazing sea kayak symposium put on by my old employer California Canoe & Kayak and my good friend Sean Morley. It's functionally the heir to the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium which was the same basic event run by mostly the same people but under different auspices. Whatever you call it, the event is a gathering of some of the best instructors in the world, some of the most eager and dedicated students, in one of the most spectacular urban paddling environments at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Day two brought even warmer and sunnier weather, if that was possible. I was scheduled to lead one section of the combat rolling class and traveling instructor extraordinaire Ben Lawry another. We joined forces in the morning to assess and divide up the students which lead to groups divided out by interest and ability, which allowed each of us to really address the needs of our students and everyone seemed to get what they needed out of the day. I got help from another new instructor - Mike Kowalsky. Sometimes it can be a little awkward working with someone you don't know - you step on each other's words, use different sequencing or progressions, etc. - but the whole day went smooth, trading off topics and letting one idea flow into the next. Another great day in the books.
Bay Model (a very cool place in it's own right). More great food provided by CCK, free beer provided by Ninkasi, and an amazing slideshow and story from Jaime Sharp on his circumnavigation of Svalbard. Brief summary: lots of icebergs, polar bears, and stunning beauty.
Overall it was a great weekend. The classes were fun to teach and the students always eager and ready to soak up more. But what really makes symposiums like this so special is the mood that pervades everything. It's the joy of hanging out with old friends, seeing everyone gear up for their various adventures and then catching up over a beer at the end of the day. It's learning new tricks and tools to better do my job and getting feedback that it is working. It's an immersion in the sport that makes the whole larger than the parts. While Paddle Golden Gate is going to be a biennial event (next one in 2018), I look forward to Oregon's Lumpy Waters in the fall, the ACA PaddleSports Coference here in California, and the Storm Gathering U.S. next year. And wherever you are, look around for opportunities in your neighborhood - Florida, Seattle, Great Lakes, British Columbia, Georgia, Nova Scotia, Israel, Baja, the U.K., and many more. Thanks again to California Canoe & Kayak - it takes a lot of work to make these things happen but it is so worth it!