Whitewater Skills Weekend
Casuarina Sands to Uriarra Crossing, Murrumbidgee River
26-27 March 2022
By KEVIN SONGBERG
After droughts, COVID-19 breakouts, and then floods, we were finally able to hold a whitewater skills weekend aimed at helping people in their early introduction to whitewater. A big effort was put in by Kevin Songberg, Georgia Rankin, Steve Molino and Aaron Ward to instruct—and give lots of assistance to—paddlers either learning the skills for the first time or trying to improve what skills they had.
We managed to get a good level on the Murrumbidgee River near Canberra and held paddling technique and skills learning sessions on the Saturday, followed by a river trip on the Sunday, where everyone could practice what they learned as well as gaining some valuable river-reading and safety perceptions.
Participants can now remember some of those hot tips like:
- Hold your paddle evenly and not biased to one side!
- More torso rotation!
- Forward sweep then reverse sweep repeatedly to do 360 degree turns!
- Good starting position and angle!
- Sweep in the current then bow-draw in the eddy when going from current into the eddy!
- Stop holding your breath all the time—air is good for you!
- Wash the sand off your feet before getting into your boat!
There was even a significant paddling equipment presentation to get an appreciation of practical aspects of equipment and hear the experiences we had with gear that worked well, was okay, or was a dismal failure. A revealing episode of show-and-tell stories rarely given.
The weekend wrapped up with prizes from Georgia for things like most improved, best roll, best draw stroke and more. Let’s hope the river levels stay suitable and weather is good so we can hold some future sessions.