Monday, February 28, 2011

The Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium 2011

As the rain and snow approached, world class sea kayaking coaches began to gather in San Francisco for one of the best symposium's anywhere.  Their students made their way there, despite un-characteristicly snowy and cold weather in California.  They came from near and far.  Places like Russia, the UK and all across the U.S.  They didn't come eager to ride the street cars or taste the sour dough.  They came to learn.  They came for top notch coaching.  They came to BOAT!

It rained for the first 2 days; a cold miserable rain.  Those that held out til Sunday were rewarded.  

By day, students enjoyed a wide variety of classes, trainings, and assessments from many of the best in the world, often with astounding 2:1 ratios! The fun kept rollin as they enjoyed movies, Greenland rope demonstrations, slide shows and live music back at the Hostel by night.  If you didn't make it this year, get signed up now.  It's worth every penny.  

Classes ran all three days.  Everyone finds what they need, from the fresh newbie cutting their teeth to the saltiest veterans out to fine tune their technique for the season.  There is everything from rolling, and stroke refinement classes to advanced rock gardening and rescue classes.

It rained enough the first two nights to FILL the boats on the roof.  

Matt Palmariello and Sean Morley did an amazing job keeping things organized this year.  They invited some of the best including Ben Lawry, Nigel Dennis, Tom Bergh, Shawna Franklin and Leon Somme just to name a few.  A special treat this year included the return of the Tsunami Rangers!  Eric Soares, Reg Lake, Deb Volturno, and John Lull were all there.  Check out the symposium website to see the full list of classes and coaches.

Event Master Minds: Matt Palmariello (Left) and Sean Morley

The success of these type of events is a good sign for sea kayaking in the West.  It seems skill levels are rising and people are hungry for more.  I'd sign up soon for next year's Golden Gate Symposium if I were you.  It's not to be missed!  Word is spreading fast, and instruction based grass roots events like this deserve your support.

Check out all shots of the symposium below.  Then be on the look out for the post symposium action.  Hey, coaches gotta play too  ;)  That post will be on Outdoor Research's Verticulture Site.

Presidio Yacht Club was nice enough to pretty much let us take over for the weekend.  

All the cool California kids wear yellow Kokatat drysuits...

...some are just more faded than others.

An All-Star cast was on hand this year.  One of the best things about working events like this is the chance for cross-pollination of ideas.  I learned so much working with new friends this year.   If there were any more of us we would need a bigger dock.  

Once the morning meeting is over we go to work.  The students at this year's event were amazing.  I met so many enthusiastic and inspiring folks.

Well...They seemed nice anyway.  :) 

When being attacked by angry students, roll repeatedly.  Whatever you do...DO NOT SWIM...

Better yet, just make sure they are well fed.  

...Swag like free hats don't hurt either.

My secret ingredient for keeping them at bay is a little adrenaline ;)  

One of the things I love about sea kayaking is the ability to sit in a perfectly safe spot with front row seats close enough to see your buddies eyes become the size of saucers when it's his turn.  

Having been over that bridge long before I was a sea kayaker, I remember wondering what was out there around that corner.  Paddling a kayak through the gate and looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the sea is a special experience that is well worth the effort... 

But the best part, was definitely the company.  Thanks Tsunami Rangers for a great day on the water Sunday.  I had fun working with all of you.  I hope to see all my students again next year, or better yet at The Lumpy Waters Symposium this October!  

Remember to check back in soon for the post symposium antics.  Jeff Laxier of Liquid Fusion Kayaking in Mendocino took some of the coaches back for some of the best rock gardening imaginable.  I will be posting those pics on Outdoor Research's Verticlture Site SOON.