Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Going big before going home after the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium

Tide Race Sea Kayaks recently sent me down to San Francisco as a guest coach for one of the best rough water sea symposiums found anywhere in the world.  Made bright by warm sunshine and big smiles from some of the toughest, most enthusiastic students I have ever had the pleasure of coaching, The Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium was again a great success.

The event attracted some of the best coaches and instructors from the West coast and across the globe.  There was a touching tribute and memorial to Tsunami Ranger Commander Eric Soares.  The amazingly entertaining explorer and professor Jon Turk presented his circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island.  San Francisco it's self seemed to shine in the late day sun, but it was the students that proved to be the true stars of the weekend!

They were up before the sun each day ready for whatever challenges lay ahead; be it a dwarfing swell barreling in off the Pacific or whirling currents coursing through the bay.  Unforgiving barnacle encrusted rocks continually emerged from the depths to transform the heavy blue water to a bright white foam, then disappeared again in an instant, leaving behind only subtle traces along the water's surface before re-emerging once again moments later.

Those who ventured outside "The Gate" often experienced an exhilarating combination of these forces.  I was fortuitous enough to have the opportunity to coach rock gardening all weekend with good friends such as Matt Nelson and Jeff Laxier along with some new friends like Jake Stachovak, Rowan Gloag, Nick Castro, Roger Schumann, and Duane Strosacker.

In defining moments of well timed determination and commitment, our rock gardening students punched through slots and over shelves turning the sea into a vast playground filled with endless opportunities for personal challenge and exploration.  I remain truly humbled by their passion, their courage, and the heartfelt expressions of appreciation shared after each day on the water.  It takes a certain breed to do what we do, and the participants at the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium have what it takes!  I'm proud of you guys and I know Eric Soares would be to!  I thought of him often as we were passing under the gate and entering Eric's favorite realm.  I, along with a few others, had the opportunity to lead a class just like this one with Eric at last year's event.  He will be missed.

Photo By Anders

Thank You:  Tide Race Sea Kayaks for sponsoring this year's symposium and making my attendance possible.    

After all the symposium action was wrapped up, Richard Davis and Nick Scoville of Saltwood Paddles gave Kate and I a lift up to Mendocino for our annual coaches after-party paddling sessions.  We spent a couple days paddling the coast of Northern California with Bryant Burkhardt of CCK and Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaking in Fort Bragg.  Check out a couple parting shots from the symposium AND all the fun had after the event below:
Will Jones went big just outside the gate for my favorite photo of a student in action!  Nice Job Will.
Photo By: Paul Kuthe

Event Organizers Matt Palmariello and Sean Morley makin it happen!
Photo By: Kate Ross

The view back towards the city from the ridge behind the hostel.  Til'
Next Year San Francisco...
Photo By: Paul Kuthe
It was time to hit the road and head North to the promise-land... Mendo
Photo By: Kate Ross

This is always a nice sign to see at the put-in.  Cate Hawthorne showed us the back yard spot for Liquid Fusion Kayaking at Noyo Beach.  
Photo By Paul Kuthe
Photo By: Kate Ross

Chicken Point was going off while we were there.  There is no feeling like dropping into big waves that are peeling and bending through the reef and into the steep cliffs above.  The closer to the rocks you were able to get the better the ride.  Almost everyone won their game of chicken on this occasion.  I did fine at the point, but I would not be so lucky at another spot not far away.
Photo By: Paul Kuthe

I was just poking around the rocks looking for fun little moves to make when I let my guard down.  I caught a good wave pictured along the set of rocks above.  I was almost beyond the rocks making my exit when another wave wrapped in at an angle pushing me high up on the rocky outcropping...

Gelcoat is temporary...glory is forever!
Photo By: Kate Ross

A couple pieces of Nick's foil tape later and I was back on the water in no time.

Chicken Point was so good.  Once we got the hang of it there were plenty of good rides to be had out there.  We just had to warm up to the rocks a bit.  
Photo By: Cate Hawthorne

mmm...tastes like chicken.
Photo By: Cate Hawthorne

Just as the wave crashes over the rocks inside, we would come tearing down the wave carving hard left to avoid impact.  
Photo By: Cate Hawthorne

The next day we were met with wall to wall sunshine.  We headed a few minutes South to the Van Dam Access.  There we explored caves, surfed through the labyrinth of slots, and found some cool blow holes.  Kate edges ever closer to one above.  Just as the big waves come in, the wall explodes into a foamy mist.  
Photo By: Paul Kuthe

Paddling in California is always a treat.  Thanks again to all the participants at the event this year.  Thanks to all the coaches, the organizers (Matt Parlmeriello and Sean Morley, and all the volunteers that made it happen once again.  Thanks to Jon Turk for his amazing presentation.  Thanks to Tom Shores for providing the event motor boat and giving my students a ride around the Gate on Sunday.  Thanks to Cate and Jeff from Liquid Fusion.  Thanks Bryant!  Thanks to Richard Davis and Nick Scoville for being such great travel companions, and thanks to Kate Ross for putting up with me and joining me on my adventures.  See you all next year!  Or who knows, perhaps I will see up this way at this year's Lumpy water Symposium.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who invited THIS guy?

I have to try and show a little class this month.  I will be doing some sea coaching with some of the very best, at two amazing venues in February!  Who's ready to get back on NW waters for 2012?

To start things off, I will be heading North into Washington's Deception Pass to teach with one of my favorite coaches, Gordon Brown over from Scotland.

Gordon and I will be presenting helpful ideas and techniques for smarter paddling in dynamic waters.  Everything from breaking in and out of swirling whirlpools to mopping up the mess with incident management will be covered.  Follow all the action from the weekend or jump on last minute cancellations by visiting this link:     https://www.facebook.com/events/148496055257573/
This is truly a unique opportunity.  Gordon's classes always fill up fast.  I can't wait to coach with him again.

After all the "Deception" you won't believe where we are headed next...

There are still a few spaces left at the big symposium in San Francisco.  If you have not been before, I HIGHLY recommend the experience.  Visit the site and sign up NOW before it fills up too!!!

  I have been down for "Golden Gate" every year.  This February, Tide Race Sea Kayaks and I will be heading back down to the city by the bay.  San Francisco Bay offers some of the very best coaching and learning venues anywhere.  Work on refining basic technique in the calm waters of the inner bay, or tackle the beginner tide rips off yellow bluff or tour around Alcatraz.  Slip under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the wild blue ocean beyond for more advanced training grounds with caves, rocks, and explosive swell.  San Fran has it ALL!

World class coaches from all over the world will be there including a special visit from the legendary Jon Turk!  There is something for everyone down at the Golden Gate Symposium.  It's a truly iconic backdrop to an incredible sea paddling event with some of the very best coaches from all around the world.  Hurry...don't miss this opportunity...I'm not sure how long that dock will hold all the amazing coaching talent!     

Visit http://www.ggsks.com/  to get signed up!  Don't wait!! It's filling up fast!!!