Sea kayak leadership^

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Mark R
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Sea kayak leadership^

Post by Mark R » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:22 am

Jim wrote:If I'd had a group seeking my leadership, rather than just myself, was that I trip I could have done with them
I honestly didn't understand a single word of what Jim's thread was about, at least in terms of the main title. So I started my own to avoid confusion.

Jim's used the (rather charged) phrase 'seeking my leadership'...which opens up a debate as to what leadership actually is, in sea kayaking terms at least.


Is sea kayaking leadership is a largely redundant concept, at least in terms of the classic image of a leader and subservient followers?

If a group needs to 'seek' someone's leadership to be able to complete a trip, then they most probably shouldn't be doing it and the so-called 'leader' shouldn't be taking them? When we are talking about a group leader telling paddlers what to do and how to complete the trip, then surely we are describing a coaching situation, something very different?

How does the concept of 'leadership' relate to the group dynamics of sea kayaking with your peers (meaning = a bunch of similarly/ appropriately experienced and able paddlers)? Perhaps in this scenario, every now and then one person (or sometimes, any member of the group) makes a decision which the group are expected to go along with, in order to ensure the trip's success?

This is an area worth discussing...I have tended to find the group dynamics of sea kayaking with my peers bit peculiar, coming from a whitewater background.
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Post by Dave Thomas » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:58 am

An interesting question - and one that the BCU doesn't seem ever to have got completely clear in its corporate mind, in that 5* is defined in terms of "... leading others of adequate ability on sea journeys, up to and including advanced level, with safety ..." while "... when used in conjuction with the relevant coaching award ...... has sufficient expertise to coach and lead groups in more demanding situations ...." What is missing is the definition of the dividing line between coaching and leading - oh, and the definition of "adequate ability"! Is assessing the latter a coaching or a leadership skill?

Clearly, planning and real time assessment/modification of plans is an important part of 'leadership' - whether exercised by one person on behalf of a group or by 'committee' discussion within a true peer group. I have certainly paddled in groups where planning is in the grey area between these extremes - akin to democracy but with the decisions not necessarily made on a 'one man one vote' basis.

Clearly imparting the elements of this planning process to others is a valuable part of mixed-ability group paddling - but at what point does this become 'coaching'?

That should give something for people to fire away at !!

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Post by Jim » Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:39 pm

With a large group, not everyone can be the navigator, the navigator therefore assumes a leadership role whether the others are as capable at paddling or not.

On our recent Jura trip "leaders" were nominated each day (from the pool of aspirant level 4 coaches requiring leadership experience, so not me) and worked out the navigation and made the decisions on the water. Of course we all had our own contributions and at times they were under considerable pressure from conflicting opinions.

The point is however, that everyone in the group was capable of the paddling but not all were necessarily confident to do the planning, and therefore look for guidance. To be honest our usual way is to just leave Phil and Geoff to it and follow them.

Another scenario I was in recently, and I think Mark is quite regularly in to a lesser extent, was a more recent trip with a bunch of friends who on the whole were river paddlers, not sea paddlers. These were people that could keep their boat upright and paddle forward all day and beyond if necessary but few of us had any navigational experience, and the rest did look to us for some guidance in that respect. The thing is that no matter what route I might have prepared for these people, it was probably going to look good to them, and we would have all coped with it just fine, but that doesn't necessarily make them good plans.

Why did I put leadership in the title of my thread? Well because to my mind the biggest part of leadership is making the right decision, and the thread is about what the right decision could have been (there are several right decisions outlined in it already).

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Post by Mark R » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:33 pm

Jim wrote:the navigator
Wow. You have a 'navigator'. Right away I can see you paddle with a very different group dynamic...
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Post by Helen M » Tue Jun 13, 2006 9:07 pm

East/West .. right /left... port/starboard ... !

Scary stuff! I had a helicopters contoller certificate once from the Navy!

And I just still didn't get it! (worked in radar)

Almost started WW3 when I worked in Intelligence at height of cold war! Bloody GM! Very easy to get confused. Put Russian ships in the English Cannel on a reg basis!

Oh well .. all's well ends well! .. luckily!

H- x

Am older and more consciensius now! .. I think! And sea kayak .. makes all the difference!

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Post by Helen M » Tue Jun 13, 2006 9:14 pm

ps - anyone want me to lead a trip?

H - x

Am avaliable! None seems to want me ....... WHY! Oh WHY!

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Post by RichardCree » Tue Jun 13, 2006 10:09 pm

I will come with you Helen ;-)

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Post by sub5rider » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:11 am

MarkR wrote:Wow. You have a 'navigator'. Right away I can see you paddle with a very different group dynamic...
Not that the whole group may be in the same grid square at the same time tho'..... but in reality there will be several people navigating, just not everyone.

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Re: Sea kayak leadership

Post by Geoff Seddon » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:17 pm

If a group needs to 'seek' someone's leadership to be able to complete a trip, then they most probably shouldn't be doing it and the so-called 'leader' shouldn't be taking them?

Well that's an industry destroyed then

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Re: Sea kayak leadership

Post by Mark R » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:24 pm

Geoff Seddon wrote:Well that's an industry destroyed then
No...as I said, that's coaching.
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:38 pm

Whilst I accept that nearly, if not all, "leading" will include some coaching, if only to make leading easier and vice versa, I do see leading and coaching as seperate entities.

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Post by Bertie.. » Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:07 pm

seperate entities - yes, but which can combine to deliver the same outcome. e.g. I could 'lead' a less confident paddler into more challenging conditions than they would have chosen to do so, which in turn would improve their paddling through just being there, therefore also coaching better future performance.

Leadership is a transient concept, in that you only need a leader, when a leader is needed. A group of competent grade 3/4 kayakers wouldn't need a leader on grade 2, but when they arrive at a 4+ the strongest, most experienced paddler may naturally take a 'leadership' role.

Similarly on the sea, a group of four & a half star paddlers wouldn't need a 'leader' on a sunny, force 3, bimble down the local coastline, but as they approached a 6knt tidal race the strongest, most experienced paddler may also take this 'leadership' role.

Ensuring that someone or several people is/are acting as navigators would be one task of a leader, as would looking out for signs that people have left their comfort zone, deciding to not risk passing the tidal race/overfall until slack, group control within the tidal race if chosen to go through/in to it or co-ordinating any subsequent capsize etc.

Also, at different times, different people may take over the leadership role, based on having diferent strengths. In reality, the chances of getting a group of kayakers with all the same strengths, equal abilities etc is unrealistic - we're all individuals with different strengths etc, therefore one sign of a good 'leader' is knowing when to allow another 'leader' to come to the fore.

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Post by CaileanMac » Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:13 am

May I punt the term 'guiding' into the mix gents?

A half way house in my opinion between leading and coaching. It's a blend coaching and leading but with the main emphasis on providing just enough skills input for person to complete the trip. Development of skills is not the end goal but just simply a means to have an experience. Leadership is necessary as the participants do not have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to really make the correct decisions every single time unless the location is really predicatable (sunny harbour in the Carribean).

The classic vision of sea kayak leadership - a group of mere paddlers being lead around by a superior being is dead and buried when the image of the senior instructor struting around went (sorry don't mean paint all S.I.'s with the same brush).

There are lot's of folks who are capable paddlers but need someone to take on the role of making decisions on the sea (not in an exclusive manner but in a consulative manner). This is not just the realm of 'commerical' trips but also within clubs and informal peer based paddling. I'm sure we all know people who hate making decisions and are happy to follow someone. However leadership is a fluid concept within such a dynamic environment as the sea. So varying degrees of leadership are required at many different points in a day which may or may not be visible or recognised by the group as 'leadership' per se.

We are trying to play 'pin the tail on the donkey' on something which is possibly more fluid even than water!

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Post by Dave Thomas » Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:35 am

That's an interesting - and useful - expansion of the terminology to match the scale of the issue, Cailean!

Mark - it is interesting to look at this question against the 'case study' of our trip to Lundy a few weeks ago. In that group, several people were quite capable of making the planning decisions - and (I would suggest) the 'dynamic' judgement calls. A few actually had prior experience of that trip. You were the trip organiser, you effectively took on the role of leader, and the group went along with it (mostly - OK there were occasional divergences of view as to the optimum speed and heading, but you quite properly established your assumed and accepted role as leader). I guess we could have had a more consensual approach - more discussions - and, hopefully we might have reached similar conclusions. But we could equally have diverged into two or three groups - even more so than happened towards the end of the outward trip!

So, were you acting as 'leader'? Was it a conscious decision? Were you happy with it? How did the dynamics compare with your quoted 'whitewater background'?

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Post by Mark R » Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:25 pm

Dave Thomas wrote:So, were you acting as 'leader'? Was it a conscious decision? Were you happy with it?
Yes, yes, yes. If I was going to organise a 20 mile open crossing with a disparate large group, then I would only do it on the condition that I could exercise firm control and influence over the group, before and during. Furthermore, in life in general I have never had any problem with taking charge and appointing myself as leader, whether wisely or productively or by popular consensus is another question...
Dave Thomas wrote:How did the dynamics compare with your quoted 'whitewater background'?
Paddling with my WW peers, they are all competent and experienced individuals, who don't want or need or like to be told what to do. Certain rules however go without saying and are sacrosanct...like for instance, you never, ever, break line of sight or communication with the next guy. Sea kayakers - I have noted on several occasions - often struggle with the latter concept of group responsibility. If I were to try and explain this, I'd perhaps point vaguely to the psychology of being master of your own craft...
Dave Thomas wrote:you quite properly established your assumed and accepted role as leader
Bottom line is, although folk like to believe that they are individuals with independent free will, in truth they often want and need to be ruled hard.
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Post by CaileanMac » Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:11 pm

Certain rules however go without saying and are sacrosanct...like for instance, you never, ever, break line of sight or communication with the next guy. Sea kayakers - I have noted on several occasions - often struggle with the latter concept of group responsibility.
MarkR - would totally agree with your thoughts above. There's a lot of relevant concepts for sea kayakers and sea kayak 'leaders'in Franco's new Whitewater Safety & Rescue book.

As for people enjoying being 'ruled hard' - it's easier to follow rather to lead, especially in tricky or stressful situations or when you wish to relax - i.e. our precious leisure time.

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Post by andreadawn » Sat Jun 17, 2006 10:21 pm

MarkR wrote:Bottom line is, although folk like to believe that they are individuals with independent free will, in truth they often want and need to be ruled hard.
Erm............is that a serious comment Mark?

One of the main attractions of seakayaking for me is it's total lack of hard rules, in contrast to my working life which is dictated one hundred percent by them.

I find paddling in large groups with a 'leader' to be a very frustrating experience. I usually have very definate ideas about where I want to go and what I want to do, and I like to have the opportunity to stop and look at anything that distracts me. And on the sea lots of things distract me.

Not the sort of thing group leaders really like. I can act as part of a team, but as I say find it very frustrating. As a result I more often than not paddle alone or with one close friend, with whom decision making can be shared.

I certainly think I'm an individual with independant free will. Do I want to be ruled hard? Absolutely not.

Do I need to be? Again, absolutely not. At least not from my point of view. Maybe my paddling lacks discipline, but as I said at the beginning, that's part of the attraction. No Rules. I don't want to lead and I don't need to be led. Where does that leave me in the paddling hierachy?

Andrea.

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Post by Mark R » Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:40 pm

andreadawn wrote:
MarkR wrote:Bottom line is, although folk like to believe that they are individuals with independent free will, in truth they often want and need to be ruled hard.
Erm............is that a serious comment Mark?
Absolutely...and the beauty of this very human weakness is that as a result, they are easily susceptible to being manipulated by any funny little despotic man who offers them an easy alternative to democracy, however misguided and misdirected it might turn out to be.
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Post by MikeB » Sun Jun 18, 2006 12:08 am

You need to trim that mustache a bit then Herr Rainsley!

Andrea - I guess it "makes you" a fairly normal sea paddler - I don't see the great majority of "sea paddlers" as part of a team. The traits that make a good sea paddler don't necessarily lend themselves to to conformity, or being led.

That said, I draw a disticntion between being part of a group of paddlers, and being led. It's all well and good being an individual, but the dynamics and needs of a group, and of being with that group on the water are somewhat different.

The decision making process for two people is, of necessity, very different from a group of 10. In that latter scenario it's difficult for one or two to "do their own thing" - what does everyone else do while they are doing it?

I'm all for guided democracy, and as long as everything is going well, that's fine. When it's all beginning to go pear shaped (weather / conditions / weaker group members etc) then that's the time when someone has to take charge and the rest really just have to support that decision.

Personality and skill / experience all play a role there. But at the same time, I strongly believe that everyone has a part to play in holding the group together, even if that may mean having to subjucate one's own natural inclinations.

By definition, if you choose to paddle in a (large) group, to a large extent you have to conform to the group's norms, and it's natural leaders.

I paddle in both scenarios - I adapt my style and attitudes according to the situation I'm in. Both situations have appeal - both have advantages and disadvantages. I also know many paddlers who are just not good group paddlers, but that doesnt mean I won't paddle with them.

There are also a great many people who just want to be led, who don't wnat to make their own decisions or who can't. That's fine too.

Mike.

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Post by Jim » Sun Jun 18, 2006 1:02 am

Mark R - I was slightly surprised to see you engage in a u-turn like manouevre there, however I think you may have gained an appreciation of what I mean by leadership.

There does not have to be just one leader. The leader does not necessarily choose him/herself, and in some cases perhaps does not even know he/she has been chosen. The leader does not necessarily make decisions autocratically, or democratically or in fact at all. Leaders do not have to "lead" the way and the role can be conducted effectively in many locations within a group. Leadership styles are numerous and varied.

The point is that if people are looking to you for advice they are requiring some kind of leadership from you.

So whether it be a 20 mile open crossing, or introducing a few WW mates with a 10 mile coastal bimble, there are often going to be, completely unofficially (or perhaps officially) people within a group looking for some kind of advice from the more experienced members of the group. Experienced WW paddlers in particular and going to be highly capable, but are the most likely to understand that they are doing something beyond their experience and will therefore need to look to others to see if things are 'normal' because they have no reference. There is an implication therefore of some kind of passive leadership.

I have noted that sometimes when things get a bit interesting, people can take a great deal of comfort in having someone whose judgement they trust just being relaxed and showing no outward signs of concern about a situation. Such people tend to get that way because in their head they have already worked out half a dozen or more alternatives should the situation get more fruity!

As for leaders making decisions, several years ago I did a trip to the alps with my Uni club - not a major trip, there were I think 8 of us in total (actually 6 at first with 2 more later on if I recall). Of the original 6, 2 of us had been to alps before, the problem is that the others trusted me but not the other guy. The only way to keep the other guy happy was to get him to make all the important decisions, quite how I/we managed to manipulate him into making all the decisions that were right for the group I am still not sure. Somehow the other 4 had chosen me as a leader, yet we let the 5th think that he was - it was a bit stressful at times but it worked.

Anyway, I will support Marks slightly contentious comment and agree that for the most part people want someone else to take charge. Individuals are welcome to comment that they don't, but I would suggest you think about the bigger picture - how many people do you know that actually do?

Personally, I can take charge of most things, but if there is someone more suitable, I'll always just let them do it and offer support if needed.

JIM

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Post by Zoe Newsam » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:06 am

MarkR wrote: Certain rules however go without saying and are sacrosanct...like for instance, you never, ever, break line of sight or communication with the next guy.
Really? In theory, of course that's absolutely correct, but I thought even you guys would admit that as a group you're not infallible in this respect.
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Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:15 am

zoenewsam wrote:
MarkR wrote: Certain rules however go without saying and are sacrosanct...like for instance, you never, ever, break line of sight or communication with the next guy.
Really? In theory, of course that's absolutely correct, but I thought even you guys would admit that as a group you're not infallible in this respect.
Some of us are better than others, but I really believe we're pretty sharp these days, India was perhaps our safest trip ever in this respect. Possibly Andy Mc's accident in Bolivia was a useful reminder. If we hadn't been maintaining LoS then, he wouldn't be with us now.
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Post by Sharky » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:46 am

What is leadership? Is it a social phenomenon; humanistic quality; a trait; a team-task issue; a functional necessity; situational requirement; or even a transcendental state of being?

Leadership is a subject that over the years has been widely debated and studied in great depth. A simple web search reveals there are numerous processes for looking at leadership, countless methods of interpreting its meaning and many ways of developing individual leadership style. There are various media used to develop leadership, from theoretical lectures to practical programmes.

For me leadership is about taking responsibility of the decsion making process, its not about taking charge of it. Whether you are more 'transformational' (in that your more concerned about the followers) or 'transactional' (in that your more concerned with the outcome) really doesn't matter if you are unable to be flexible in any given situation.

John Graham remarks, more philosophically, in his text ‘Outdoor Leadership’ that:

“Leadership is not a science to be picked up in one book or course, but an art to be learned over time. It’s not simply a set of rules to be followed, but an ability to build relationships. It’s not merely skills and techniques, but a subjective blend of personality and style. Leadership involves not only the body and mind, but spirit and character as well: good leaders have the intuition, compassion, common sense and courage it takes to stand and lead.

Good leaders sometimes tell people what to do, but leadership is not just giving directions – it’s liberating people to do what’s needed in the best possible way. Good leaders don’t depend on their position to give them authority; they depend on earning trust. They don’t mandate good performance from those they; they inspire it” Graham (1997, p11-12).

From all of this John Graham chooses to define leadership as:

“…the capacity to move others towards goals shared with you, with a focus and competency they would not achieve on their own” (p12).

Another philisophical view you may have come across is that of Lao Tzu’s definition of a good leader as quoted by Geoff Cooper (1998, p36):

“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists.
Not so good when people obey and acclaim him.
Worse when they despise him.

Fail to honour people,
They fail to honour you.

But of a good leader, who talks little
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say,
"We did this ourselves".
Last edited by Sharky on Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Chris W » Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:10 pm

Now this is interesting subject!

On the face of it, our creek boating trips with Mark have the potential for endless conflict, given that Mark's leadership style is that of a self confessed 'benign dictator'; I've been around for years and don't like being told what to do (in fact it's been pointed out to me that I'll be sued first, because I'm the oldest, most experienced and most qualified member of the group); and we're all pretty experienced and single minded, as boaters often are.

However, 99% of the time it does work and works very well indeed (although I do like to disagree with Mark once on each trip). How? Well maybe it's because.....

1. Teams do need direction. Football teams have captains (typically a central defender and not the best or oldest player).

2. Mark's a natural leader. It's what he does at work.

3. Mark's 'hyper-active' By the time we've sorted our kit out and started to think about loading boats, he's on the roof organising it.

4. My leadership style is laissez faire to the point of being off the scale (AKA lazy). Kev and McD don't want to lead.

5. Mark very good at what he does and is usually right.

6. Mark puts far more time and effort into making things happen than anyone else and yes, I think that should give him greater influence over what happens. It's a trade off.

7. We're good freinds with a common purpose (to paddle as much 4/5 as we possible can).

8. And finally- we don't have another Rainsley personality type in the group- it wouldn't work if we did. It wouldn't suit everyone.

Having said that, I do more paddling without Mark than with him over the the course of each year. Whilst as friends, we're in regular contact, we haven't, for example, seen each other, never mind paddled together, since India 9 weeks ago, and we've both done a lot of paddling in that time. That's probably for the best, thinking about it, because it would be stifling otherwise. It's good to mix it up and paddle with different people.

Chris W.

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Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:34 pm

Knees wrote:Mark's leadership style is that of a self confessed 'benign dictator'.
Yup, I'd agree with that.

However, I would like to think that I rarely actually directly tell paddlers what to do, that would be very tacky indeed. If I'm doing that, it means I've failed in my primary objective...

...which is to make paddlers believe that whatever they are doing was their own choice.
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Post by Bertie.. » Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:29 am

MarkR wrote:
...which is to make paddlers believe that whatever they are doing was their own choice.
...whether or not it was?? ;-)
Sharky wrote:For me leadership is about taking responsibility of the decsion making process, its not about taking charge of it. Whether you are more 'transformational' (in that your more concerned about the followers) or 'transactional' (in that your more concerned with the outcome) really does matter if you are unable to be flexible in any given situation.
Sharky hits the nail on the head for me, with his two examples above.

As 'leaders', we have to recognise when we're trying to influence a group behaviour e.g. improving group safety dynamics through encouraging practice such as never breaking line of sight, or communication channels as 'transformational' - and here I generally adopt an influencing style of 'leadership'. However, I reserve the right to adopt a 'transactional' style of leadership if my immediate priority is to ensuring the safe outcome of say a nasty pinning, or a capsize in a tidal race.

I'm a bit like Chris with his laissez-faire style - the great thing about that though is when I do switch to more command leadership, people notice immediately and do what they're told!

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Post by Chris W » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:40 pm

'Flexibility'- you've beaten me to it. The best leaders are flexible and capable of adopting different leadership styles to suit the people and circumstances.

Mark's approach in his last post is OK- that's just smart negotiation. However, as and when the approach fails and a valid difference of opinion leads to a divided group, the benign dictatorship approach can be counter productive. You've than got to use your persuasive skills to obtain the required majority, in a peer group situation.

Chris W.

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Post by Dave Thomas » Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:31 pm

MarkR wrote:Paddling with my WW peers, they are all competent and experienced individuals, who don't want or need or like to be told what to do. Certain rules however go without saying and are sacrosanct...like for instance, you never, ever, break line of sight or communication with the next guy


Might I respectfully add another point here which I think is rather relevant. Paddling white water at the level you do, you - both individually and collectively - are much nearer 'the edge' for more of the time than is typically the case in a sea kayaking journey. Groups tend to spread out when there is little perceived risk and paddle closely together when there is more - eg through a race. I offer this as an observation, not a justification! The issue is clearly how well individuals can perceive approaching 'danger' (weather, location, other vessels, well-being of other paddlers) and how quickly they can regroup when necessary. Given that they will rarely do so adequately on either count - if only because identifying how afellow-paddler is feeling is not easy at 500m - and that maintaining easy communication and hence facilitating control of the whole group is therefore essential.

And yes, when I'm not 'leading' I can be as guilty as the next person of getting stuck into a good conversation, or heading purposefully for the destination beach, and contributing to the formation of at least two 'sub-groups'!
MarkR wrote:Sea kayakers - I have noted on several occasions - often struggle with the latter concept of group responsibility. If I were to try and explain this, I'd perhaps point vaguely to the psychology of being master of your own craft...
I remember a welsh hill-farmer once telling me that the Welsh Mountain breed of sheep has a remarkable tendency, whenever put into a new enclosure - whether a small pen or a sizeable field - to explore the entire boundary trying to find a way out of it, before settling down to graze. I guess sea paddlers as a breed are both similarly individualistic and similarly resentful of constraints!

It's interesting - I have paddled a fair bit at various Symposia in largish groups led by a variety of L4 and L5 coaches. Most attempts at tight group control - splitting into smaller groups, buddying up, keeping within talking distance - have broken down at some point during a day - albeit generally when there was no immediate threat. One particular coach (no names!) stands out in my mind for the ability both to establish the group 'protocol' and to maintain it throughout the day. Perhaps there are several more on this forum with this real ability - in which case I look forward to paddling with you!

Dave Thomas

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Post by Dave Thomas » Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:42 pm

It may not have run its course, yet, but a most interesting and thought-provoking thread! I've done L3 (sea) (and inland, for that matter) and 5* sea training courses and not picked up a fraction of the useful views and ideas set out here.

Perhaps it would be interesting to revist Mark's original post and summarise the consensus view on his propositions. I set out to, but thought better of it! How about it, Mark? Have your questions been answered? And have your views been changed to any extent as a result?

Dave Thomas

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Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:13 pm

Dave Thomas wrote:Might I respectfully add another point here which I think is rather relevant. Paddling white water at the level you do, you - both individually and collectively - are much nearer 'the edge' for more of the time than is typically the case in a sea kayaking journey. Groups tend to spread out when there is little perceived risk and paddle closely together when there is more - eg through a race.
Hmm...several points. I don't think the grade of WW is important, the same logic applies. If a paddler vanished from sight/ hearing on the Dart Loop, surely any 'safe' group would want to re-establish contact to ensure they are safe.

In years past, when bombing down rivers, if someone had dropped out of sight, we always used to consider whether to wait for them, and then tell ourselves, "Of course, they'll be fine". This kind of logic is however, nothing more than selfish crap intended to absolve the self of responsibility and guilt. They probably are "fine", and you can and probably will be right about this a billion times, but you can never, ever be wrong, not even once. Who is prepared to take those odds on, where their friends lives are at stake?

Does all this apply to sea kayaking? I believe so, for almost exactly the same reasons. However, I would suggest on the sea that the risk is less immediately apparent. Things tend to go pearshaped slowly and insidiously, but when they've gone wrong, they are really badly wrong. As far as I'm concerned, the increased time scale offers even less excuse for 'selfish' paddling.
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