Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Inland paddling
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:38 am
Location: Chesterfield
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by andypagett » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:48 pm

Hi everyone,

Looking for guidance from anyone with experience of the AWWKL / 5* award, to help me decide if it's realistic for me to achieve a sufficient level of paddling to go for this award

I see that 'Advanced Water' is anything up to and including Grade 4(5) and that a suitable candidate would have a minimum of 30 varied, quality 'advanced water' river days, including logged experience of Grade 5.

I have plenty experience on Grade 3 and 3(4), and some experience of Grade 4 runs, but no experience on Grade 5 yet. Examples of rivers would be

Lune - Beck Foot to Killington Bridge
Kent - Scroggs Weir to Park Head
Tees - High Force to Wynch Bridge
Tees - Middleton to Cotherstone
Upper Tryweryn
Dee - Horseshoe Falls to Llangollen
Conwy - A5 to Ryndlanfair Bridge
Aberglasyn Gorge
Upper Dart

At my current stage of life I am at (9-5 office job, hoping to start family soon), now is probably the last time for me to go for it while my padding is at a decent level. But also living where I live and paddling with who I do, whilst I have plenty opportunities to get out on Grade 3 - 4, getting a crew together to paddle days and days of Grade 4(5) would be a challenge.

My question therefore is that, (other than the fact I need to get on some Grade 5), is the list above the sort of level I would need to be paddling at, or do I need to be pushing harder? I.e. how much experience do you need in the Grade 4(5) range vs the Grade 3-4 range?

Note that I am not looking to find the minimum I can get away with, what I am after is a solid idea of what commitment would be required from me to get there. If a solid logbook of Grade 3/4 with experience of 4(5) is it, I could probably do it, but if the majority needs to be solid Grade 4(5), that's probably not realistic. (I do understand that candidates with the latter stand a better chance of course).

What sort of rivers are typical examples - both as logged experience, and suitable assessment venues?

User avatar
Simon Westgarth
Posts: 6565
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 5:05 pm
Location: Øyer in Norway
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by Simon Westgarth » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:48 pm

From my experience as an assessor with these things, there are two areas candidates struggle on during their Advanced Leader Assessment.

1. Personal paddling; some candidates simply can not put the boat where the demand of the rapid needs. Their scope of experience reflects a lack of paddling, and a substantial ability to move the boat, use the terrain and understand white water.

2. Decision making; coupled with the lack of paddling experience, the candidates range of situations where by prompt decisions are required tend to be limited. Leadership is often procedural, thus not reflecting the nature of the terrain and scope of their group. Arguably it is boring to witness, and not where the award is might to be.

Sadly in the UK we have the issue that there is not a host of rivers that often run, instead we all tend to be on a handful of runs we know well. This opens up the idea that runs are learnt, rather than core river running tactics developed, and this is what an assessment often exposes even in the stronger candidates. An over familiarity with regular runs, especially at moderate water, makes for a fair and representative assessment to be a challenge.

From your list Andy, most are Class III, with a few runs have some Class IV rapids. For an assessment you need to up your own challenge, get on runs that are more class IV(V) to develop your experience and ultimately your expertise. Being able to move the kayak about starts on easier white water, a solid forward stroke, mastery in boat control will mean that when others follow you, they can do so with ease because you provide the sterling example.

Posts: 505
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:04 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by LucyLou19 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:03 pm

My thought would be you’d need to get on runs like the Wnion, Ogwyn, Middle Conwy, Lledr, Low Llugwy (Swallow Falls to Betws), up north Sprint and the Mint etc, Scotland the Etive, Orchy and Morriston

User avatar
Posts: 13889
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 41 times

Re: Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by Jim » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:46 pm

Simon makes the important point that pass or fail is not based on your logbook, but what the assessor sees on the day(s).
If you have exceptional skills and find you transition easily to grade 4(5) on your first few outings, including how you can adapt to the group you are with, you might not need to log that many harder trips, but if you find you are at the edge of your comfort zone, not sure about your own ability to make moves, not able to judge who else in the group is realisticaly capable to make the moves and take a long time working out what to do when you reach the grade 5 bits, you will need to do a lot more to build your experience.

Also think if being lead down a grade 4(5) section by someone that knows it well is actually contributing much to the development of your own leadership on it, or if it is just bulking up your logbook. Most people need to be lead a little at first to develop their own skills, but you want to be able to get inside the leaders head and try to work out what it is that he or she is seeing in the river, and in the group for it to help develop your own leadership. At some point you will need to run some rivers at the edge of your comfort zone for your first time with a group of peers who have also never done them.

For quite a few years I used to meet with a group of friends from England who wanted to explore new rivers when they came to Scotland, I quickly ran out of stuff I knew well that they hadn't done, so then we were doing stuff I'd done once or twice and still wasn't sure about, but before long we ended up doing stuff that was new to me too (so many rivers, so little time!). That was easy because I knew the guys well, for 5* I think you need to be able to also do that with a group you just met, which means learning to read other paddlers quickly too.

I never have and never will do 5* or its replacement - I don't know if my own leadership was ever up to 5* standard, and my paddling has moved on now.

User avatar
Posts: 1417
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:41 pm
Location: Lancaster

Re: Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by Lancs_lad » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:14 pm

I did my 5 star when I was paddling whenever it rained and while regularly paddling abroad each summer. Plus I had quite a bit of coaching from Simon on pushy water.

If I couldn't get on grade 4 due to levels I would go and master boat skills on lower grades eg S turns.

I now haven't been in a boat for 2 years so would probably struggle to stay upright on grade 3!

My third child is due in a couple of weeks which has changed my current life objectives. I hope to get back in a boat one day but I doubt it will ever be back to level at my peak.

User avatar
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:38 am
Location: Chesterfield
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Advanced Whitewater / "5 star" logbook/assessment

Post by andypagett » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:55 am

Well, I'm back from a 4 day beasting in Dartmoor - 2 days of Advanced Whitewater Leader, and then 2 days of Advanced Whitewater Safety and Rescue. As 2 of us on the AWWSR had done AWWKL we got to do most of the leading on the AWWSR days which was more good experience of leading in that environment, and lots more good feedback.

After 2 days on the Upper Dart, a high water day on the East Lyn (portaging the gorge), and a day on the Erme I now have a much greater appreciation of the 'Advanced' environment vs the 'Moderate' environment (and the 'inbetweeny' environment where I am most of the time at the moment (maybe we can call it 'progressive' in line with the latest BC awards :P ) environment), and what is required in terms of leadership, safety etc.

Feedback at the end was that my leadership was "pretty much there", and my personal paddling was "nearly there". Paddling the Lyn in high water in a B2 with a paddle which is too short kept me on my toes too, so there's a possibility of looking at some new kit.

As a bonus, we asked at the start of the 4 days if we could look at the new Progressive White Water Award along the way, and we were awarded this at the end. That means in terms of demonstrating my competence to lead club trips that are are a little bit beyond the remit of the White Water Kayak Leader, I also have the Progressive WW award and AWWSR with a good logbook of experience on Class3(4). I'm really happy with that in the short term as that's where I do the bulk of my leading.

The challenge now is before life takes over, can I get out enough times on quality class 4(5) runs to get over that last hurdle?!

Post Reply

Return to “Whitewater and Touring”