Building Skills

There are no limits to describing paddling. You could start by talking about the craft that is used, or the water that is paddled, or what we do when we get on the water: do we paddle for relaxation, the scenery, to exercise, race to fish or in search of adrenaline?  Two things are for sure, you face the way you are going and you hold a paddle not an oar!  It is fun, challenging and these is oh so much to learn if you want to.  And we guess, because you have joined this group, you have come to learn or share in what we believe is to be one of the best activities around.

The challenge for the Club is to help you do just that in the safest and best possible way.  You can go directly to the Club’s Paddler Competencies list for a breakdown of the skills you will require for each type of water or conditions that you might encounter.  Firstly work out where you fit on the list then work out where you would like to be and that will assist you in determining what you need to achieve.  As you step from flatwater to sea kayaking and whitewater you will notice a complexity that will render a competent paddler at one level a novice in the next.  The list also provides an indication of the environment you might face. This is further explained by reviewing the Grades for each type of water and the effects that weather may have on the journey.

It is very much our aim to provide you with the opportunity to become competent in your area of interest and increase your skills and knowledge in a great learning environment.  This may happen in dedicated sessions or “on the job”, in other words during trips under the watchful eye of more experienced club members.   Importantly, it is very much your responsibility to see that you have realistically assessed your skills and knowledge before presenting to a trip on waters that are new to you as you can put both yourself and others at risk if you are not up to the task.

Start by keeping a simple log of your paddling journey.  What you experienced, where you went, whom you paddled with and the conditions on the day.  Look up the Paddler Competencies list and start ticking off the skills that are deemed essential for that level of water and your goals.  Talk it over with fellow paddlers and the trip leader for feedback on how you are going.  One thing we all find in common, it takes no time before you find yourself introducing friends and family to the sport and passing on your skill and knowledge.  So let’s make that process the best and most rewarding for all.

Further skills can be learnt by attending club events. You probably already know the type of paddling you are interested in, the following pages will help guide you decide what you need to learn and which trips are appropriate for you. Please review the paddler competencies document before presenting to a club trip, if you aren’t sure whether a trip is right for you, contact the trip co-ordinator for advice.

Flatwater Skills
Whitewater Skills
Sea kayaking Skills 

Keep an eye on the Club’s list of recommended resources for the fundamentals of paddling and paddling safely.  They will be listed again as you proceed through the various training events.

Different skill development programs – something for everyone!

  1. Beginners Program
    If you’re starting out paddling, here’s a great program to fast-track your initial skill development.

2. Emerging paddlers leadership program
(See below)

3. Transition to expedition kayaking
more information on this coming shortly…


Emerging Paddlers Leadership Program 2021 (work in progress/coming shortly…!)

One of the club’s focus areas for 2021 is to provide new opportunities for ‘mid-level’ paddlers to building their skills and confidence, as they increasingly take on new conditions and start assuming leadership roles. This builds on the success of the regular beginner programs – enabling paddlers to start taking their paddle to the next level. As a general guide, this program will be suited to those with 12months+ paddling experience.

There are three (3) areas of focus:
1. People
2. Environment.
3. Equipment

A target has been set to see around 15-20 paddlers in the club complete the program in the first half of 2021. If you’d like to discuss the program further, please contact either Simon Wilkes or Robert Walker by email. This program is also intended to complement both the the 2021 ‘transition to expedition kayaking’ and 2021 beginner programs, which are also kicking off in parallel.

Intended outcomes
•Upskilling of members – both skills and confidence
• Lots of paddling and fun times, with new opportunities.
•Improved safety and enjoyment on the water – having an increased number of ‘assets’
•Increase paddling opportunities in the club – a greater number of people able to organise/lead activities.
•Building club community – as a ‘cohort’ but also more generally
•Facilitating peer to peer learning – a great way to skill up.
•Facilitating continuous improvements to Club’s policies, practices and systems.
•Kick-starting the roll-out of the club’s new flatwater competency framework.
•Getting people ready for formal PA/PNSW qualifications, if desired.

There is a significant focus on self-assessment along the way, combined with peer-to-peer learning. There are a number of members in the club with significant experience, which we shall seek to invite in along the way.

The first session is scheduled for Sunday 17 January at 8am – registrations via eventbrite. The focus for the first session:
1. Confirming goals, arrangements and expectations for the program.
2. Identifying some personal goals/development areas for participants.
3. Identifying some great places to go paddling.
4. Gear selection, wind and tide forecasts.
5. Getting out for a paddle, a re-cap on lessons learnt.

It is expected that the programmed sessions will be approx monthly, approx 4-6 months in total and experiencing a wide range of paddling conditions.

Learning Resources (being progressively built…)
Australian Canoeing – Flatwater Instructor and Guide Level 1 – Learner Manual
River Canoe Club new Flatwater Competency Framework (October 2020)
• Tide forecast – Willyweather.