Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1st Failure

Results so far.
I've used the alternative capsize drill coaching technique 3 times so far.

Have since made some changes over my original idea.
I basically split the whole capsize drill into 2 parts. For the first part, I get the paddlers to capsize but stay in kayak till I flip them over.
For the second part, they do the usual capsize drill.

This is what I do.
  1. Get 2 boats out in the water.
  2. 1st boat does part 1, 2nd boat watch.
  3. 2nd boat does part 1, 1st boat watch.
  4. 1st boat does part 2, 2nd boat watch.
  5. 1st boat goes back to shore and empty water, 2nd boat does part 2
  6. 2nd boat goes back to shore, 1st boat does part 1.
  7. Repeat.
This has been successful so far till today. I got the water phobia group. Out of 9 paddlers, 4 were afraid of doing the capsize. After some coaxing, I got the kids to do the capsize drill.
3 of them managed to overcome their fear and do the drill after completing part 1.
But the last boy was just too afraid of water. He couldnt even do part 1.
The first time he tried, he wet exited on his own. On the second try, he held on to the kayak with only one hand and I couldnt flip him over. During the third try, he grabbed on to my leg underwater!!!
He wouldnt even try the normal capsize drill, he only wanted to do part 1 because I would be there holding him and flipping him. Physical contact was a big factor in calming him. He needed someone to hold him.

Guess even this method is not fail proof.

Some funny things happened though. The 4 boys who were afraid of capsizing kept giving excuses. One particular excuse really took the cake.
The boy said: " I cannot do, I got block nose."
His friend replied: "Nobody can breathe underwater lah!"
Well said. Haha.

At the end of the day after washing the boats, their teacher came up to me and thanked me. She said that she knew some of them were quite "scaredy cats" and she really appreciated my patience when teaching them.

Hearing things like that are nice.
Great for the ego :)

Monday, March 30, 2009


Just conducted a 1 Star course on Sunday and it was horrible. Didnt feel like there was much learning involved, though I tried to make the best of the situation.

An NPCC unit had signed up for the course held at Water-Venture through a company called PaddleH2O. This company is run by 2 trainers from Water-Venture, Richard Lim and Mary Zoe Lek.

So I more or less just let things happen the way Mary wanted it. This went on till I couldnt take it anymore and voiced my opinions to Mary. We then split the group and carried on coaching in smaller more condusive numbers.

Here's why:
During the split to do the capsize drill, she got her entire group to raft up and wait in the water and take turns to do the capsize. It looked all nice and organised at first, but in the end the group just ended up floating around in a mess.

It all started to go downhill when Mary started demonstrating embarking and disembarking to 28 paddlers sitting in the kayaks on the beach alongside each other. How did she expect the paddlers at the extreme ends to see her?

When I questioned her on this, she said the other instructors were supposed to teach/facilitate while she did her coaching. Whats the point? So I have to repeat everything WHILE she is talking? Who do the paddlers pay attention to then? Herself or me?

Next, she basically dispatched the whole group of 28 participants into the water at one shot. While she stood on the beach. She got them to paddle towards a pontoon abt 10m away and reverse paddle back to shore.
So there we had 28 pple floating around paddling in circles and myself and Sam had to herd them back to shore.

She did not even take a boat out into the water! Coaching a 1 Star course without getting into a boat? So you can guess the kids spent alot of time at the beach or near it.

All that techincal stuff and jargon she used didnt help facilitate learning either.

Sam also wasn't too interested in coaching. He condemned the group before they even arrived and ended up shouting most of the session. Could see that the teacher in charge was worried at this and spent most of the time hanging around his group.

Lost my watch too :( I guess one of the links came loose.
The new club manager Joyce kept coming out to the beach. Judging from her character, chacnes are she was "assessing" myself and Sam.

Quite a bad day.

But, at least 3 things brightened up my day.
1. The new capsize drill thingy worked. Got the kids all excited about capsizing. Even the non-swimmers! They found the technique fun and awesome. Saw a few smiles and heard a few screams of delight!

2. The teacher in charge was cute. Really cute :)

3. I got an exciting trip home, cycling in the rain.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eventful Paddle Round Ubin

Went round Ubin with Kevin again. Quite an eventful paddle.
He used a Bandit this time while I switched from a wooden paddle to a wing paddle. So I was way ahead of him.

Looking for a workout

He mananged to paddle 22km in a whitewater boat within 4hours. Quite an achievement I'd say.

East Nenas Beacon

It was the 1st time I used a wing paddle since January and the stronger catch of those blades wreak havoc on my shoulder for longer distances. Was paddling quite leisurely, so my shoulders didnt really hurt. But I could feel the strain.

Sea snake!

On our way back to Pasir Ris we paddled past a group in open deck kayaks. I think it was led by Jessica with Addison at the back. Looked like them.
Then we saw a group of SMU paddlers launching when we finally reached Pasir Ris beach.

Got Kevin to help me take some videos, so here they are!

Top Hat Roll

Balance Brace

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fear of Capsize

It seems that the most feared thing during the 1 Star course is the capsize drill.
Sometimes I feel that the only thing thats on the participant's mind is getting out of the kayak. I often see them dropping out of the kayak before it even turns upside down. Sometimes I see the capsized boat shaking violently from the violent kicking and trashing from a panicked participant.

I've had ideas of getting the participants to capsize and stay in the boat for as long as possible, but "as long as possible" could only mean 1 second to a panicked person.

For those who are really panicky I usually get them to hug the kayak, telling them to hug the kayak until they hear a loud thud from my banging on the hull. I then flip the kayak over, count to 5 before banging the hull.
There have been few successes with this method, but I've been using this as a last option.
Should I use this method from the start? A stepping stone leading up to an actual capsize?
Kinda feels like too much hand holding from the start though. Not really my style and it would take up quite a bit of time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lots of coaching

All my paddling for the past 2 months have been limited to coaching. I have not trained or done any leisure paddling on my own.
Hopefully it does not rain tomorrow so I can do a short paddle from Pasir Ris to Coney Island and do some rolling after that. The skills are getting a little rusty.
There's lots of cool stuff in Water-Venture Pasir Ris, including a store room full of different types of paddle. Planning to try using the wooden paddle I saw inside.

Not forgetting the Greenland paddle that I plan to make. Will have to find a 2.2m long piece of wood. Now where am I gonna find one?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good Day.

Today was the 2nd day of the 1 star course that I am conducting for SIM. There were 16 participants and when we split up the group during the first day, I ended up with the older group, everyone in the group was older than me. Except of my younger sis.
The other group consisted of all girls, 21yrs old and below. Lucky I didnt get them, they didnt seem to motivated.

Quickly settled the TX rescue and went on to do other fun stuff like the all-in rescue, went for an early lunch afterwards.
Did a leisure paddle around Kallang and brought them out to the Singapore Flyer. As usual, functioning like a tour guide, stopping at certain places to take pics. All in all a good day

Went for makan at Lau Pat Sat after the course and pigged out on satay, sting ray and nasi briyani. Ended the meal with a mango ice dessert too!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Its not just our drivers

I've spent the last 2 days conducting kayak orientation programmes for St. Patrick's School at Lower Seletar Reservoir. That is also where Republic Poly and Nanyang Poly canoeists train.

The Water Venture outlet there doesnt get much business. So basically, these kids have the entire area all to themselves most of the time.

So they weren't too happy about it when we had a bunch of newbies on sit-on-top kayaks in the water. The poly kids were just sprinting and bashing through the newbies shouting things like "hold your boat".
Unfortunately for these kings of the road. They were talking to a bunch of newbies who had no idea what "hold your boat" means and even if they knew they needed to stop, they didnt know what to do. Shouting probably just makes them to panic.
Too bad for those folks, they just banged their expensive racing kayaks into indestructible sit-on-tops.

That was yesterday. What they did today defines the meaning of "assholes".
I got the kids to go back to shore after our session. This invovles having the kids to come alongside a small pontoon, get out and carry the boats to shore.
With only 3 pontoons, it does get kinda squeezy.

Seems that squeezing doesnt bother the Republic Poly kids too much. When we were halfway through the recovery, they just paddled in and recovered their boats too. So 20 boats trying to get up isnt enough, they added another 10 or so.

Im sure waiting another 5-10mins wont kill you. Or maybe their fingers have wrinkled too much and they were desperately trying to get out of the water before the fingers drop off?
Looks like we dont only have impatient and psychotic drivers on our roads, we've got them in boats too!
Does seem that these things happen when some people think they have some sort of god given right. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, even when the power is imaginary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Smelly Smelly Tevas

My sandals stink!
Once they get wet, they stink like hell. Unfortunately, I wear them for kayaking and other outdoor stuff when Im too lazy to wear shoes.
Putting them in the sun doesnt help much. I tried soaking those buggers in Dettol and scrubbing the sole, the smell went away for a while, until I used them for kayaking again.
They just freaking stink!

Looks like I have to resort to soaking them in Dettol every 2 weeks or so.
All that Microban anti-microbial stuff is bullshit man... Doesnt work. Or maybe it worked in the beginning and doesnt last.

Monday, March 9, 2009

People skills!

The new club manager of Water-Venture Kallang is the latest of my encounters with WV staff that need to work on their people skills.
Since, she took over as manager, all emails she has sent to trainers have included a short threat to kick them out should they not fufill their minimum coaching quota for the year.
In her latest email, she invites trainers to attend a gathering with food and booze. Encouraging trainers to attend. Might seem like a harmless invite.
But she goes on to say:

As the saying goes.."out of sight, out of mind"....in this case it's out of the trainers family...so attendance is STRONGLY encouraged!

These new generation of PA Staff seriously need to work on their people skills. This reminds me of the army where you are given options. You know, the kind of options where you get screwed no matter what you choose?

Oh yeah, she's gonna implement more guidelines too. Its just another fucking euphemism for RULES.