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training opportunity novice paddlers 3 days
Palmer Rapids - ORCA-MW1b
Friday, May 4, 2001 to Sunday, May 6, 2001
length: 5.0km, 3 days
difficulty: novice

leader: Gerry Ross, Gail Sheilds
participants: Beth Baskin, Chris Mack, Keith Nunn, Lois, Wendy Gilmour, Ann, Linda

An excellent weekend and some great instruction. We're all feeling quite a bit sharper now after learning and tuning with Gerry over three days.

This was an 'official' ORCA course and as such covered a fairly set agenda. Strokes covered included forward, sweeps, draws, prys, duffeks, and back. Moves covered included front ferry, back ferry, O-turns, C-turns, S-turns and surfing. This was plenty for three days when you consider the time spent trying to get them right.

Day one we didn't even get into current. We spent the whole day doing stroke development and finished with a swim through of the lower chute. About twenty hours spent paddling over the weekend and not just cruising either. I'm no novice, but I was working! I feel like I finally have the beginnings of a good forward stroke and am able to link body parts and moves in a much more fluid way.

My most wonderful momement was the last run on the lower set: ferried from river right out for a surf in a big trough, peeled out on river left into an s-turn with a nice clean drop about two feet down into a hole on river right. It was smooth, connected, fun and exciting. I didn't want to go home.

Beth did quite well and, while she dicided not to run the rapid on day three, made good progress on which to practice and build.

Chris tuned up his strokes with us on days one and two, but opted for a run down Snake rather than finishing the course on Sunday.

Also on the course were Lois (whom some of you know from MW101 or other events), Wendy, Ann, Linda. I'm looking forward to paddling with all of them in future. Wendy did some great carving on that big surf wave I mentioned above.

Gerry's a pretty good teacher, if a bit easily distracted and Gail Shields who was assistant on the course was great. Gail's also one of the folks working on the 2002 Open Canoe Championships that I've gotten mixed up with.

On a side note we stayed at a place called Hamilton Haven (http://www.hamiltonhaven.com/), that, while not amazing, was pretty damn good. It was $85/night for the four of us and is on the road to the Snake section of the Madawaska. I highly recommend it as an alternative to Harold's increasingly expensive field. She's also amenable to tents, but you may want to negotiate a bit on that front as she's not very experienced with tenters.

The last word: I want a new boat. I still like the Genesis and am unlikely to part with it on a permanent basis, but I want a Rival or a Phantom. Bad. I can taste it.

"Is your equipment keeping you on a skill plateau?" Damn straight. 8-)

Open boats rule,

posted by: Keith Nunn

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