A "good paddler"?

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 8093
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 18 times

A "good paddler"?

Post by MikeB »

A common phrase - "he / she's a 'good paddler'; - so, what makes a good paddler?

User avatar
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:35 am

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by gnarlydog »

I am not sure if there is a standardized way of "measuring" the traits of a good paddler so I believe the answer could be subjective.
While one could mainly focus on a paddler's speed that does not constitute necessarily a good paddler in my book.
What I value however is skills that are applicable to many scenarios, including the ability to paddle with others.
To me a good a paddler is somebody that has endurance (won't poop out after an hour), can handle wind, chop and surf, can read the tides/weather, has a good understanding of seamanship and kind of understands group dynamics to keep up with the pod or not race ahead, and last but not least: self reliance and preparedness.

... feewwh, have I forgotten anything? :-)

Maarten Z
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:00 am
Location: Ghent, Belgium

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by Maarten Z »

purely for the paddling aspect and at first glance: good posture, efficient forward stroke and the looks on the face when it's getting rough...
but going further, there's too much to consider

User avatar
Posts: 14034
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 62 times

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by Jim »

Someone you are happy to rely on?

I've known some paddlers with pretty poor technique, but I could always rely on them if things got hairy.
I've also known a very few technically proficient paddlers whom I wouldn't rely on if things got hairy.

Mostly I know technically proficient paddlers whom I can rely on, the ones that stand out in that company are more than good!

User avatar
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:18 pm
Location: Shropshire
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by jet »

One who pays their share of the petrol and buys their round without prompting. :-)

User avatar
Posts: 366
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:50 am
Location: Lowestoft, Suffolk
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by snapper »

Someone I don't have to wait for.
Chatham 17-Scupper Pro-RRRapido
2011 Launches 102

Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:14 pm

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by bjoern »

A paddler, paddling in conditions where he/she can be helpful to others.

User avatar
Posts: 802
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:12 pm

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by Kayaks'N'Beer »

A good paddler is someone who paddles about the same level as me*. A novice is someone who doesn't and an instructor is someone who's better.

*Level of me is not a constant

Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 11:59 am
Location: scotland
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by tenboats1 »

Kayaks'N'Beer wrote:A good paddler is someone who paddles about the same level as me*. A novice is someone who doesn't and an instructor is someone who's better.

*Level of me is not a constant

I know quite a few instructors who are utter garbage at paddling, so you need to be careful with that one !!

I think a good paddler would have loads of experience, preferably current, and be reasonably technically proficient and reasonably fit. I discount myself on two of these!

User avatar
Posts: 8093
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by MikeB »

I tend to the view that there are two criteria.

1) The person who has good technical skills, seamanship etc. They can keep up with a group, handle a range of conditions, know how to do tides, weather and all the associated stuff we encounter on the sea.

2) The person who has good group paddling skills. Their awareness extends past themselves and they are aware of what's going on with fellow paddlers, maintaining an awareness of the group dynamics and generally being a "team player". They anticipate potential problems within the group, and will act accordingly.

1 & 2 are not necessarily combined.

Matt P
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Location: Jersey
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by Matt P »

1) they are hard to find

2) you have to be gentle with them

User avatar
Mike Mayberry
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 5:13 pm
Location: Pembrokeshire

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by Mike Mayberry »

MikeB wrote:A common phrase - "he / she's a 'good paddler'; - so, what makes a good paddler?
5 foot 7 inches tall, weighs 11 stone, with dark hair; can jump into any kayak and paddle it (often with a chocolate lab on the back) and these days is usually seen wearing a Tilly hat on the water...

(sorry, couldn't resist) :)

Posts: 827
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:51 pm
Location: Pennyhole Bay

Re: A "good paddler"?

Post by tg »

Aah, this old chestnut! I seem to remember posting a similar topic on here some years ago.

I know that I am a good paddler. In the way that I know that I'm good at other things.

With paddling I have to confess I suffer a little insecurity. That stems from the BCU Stars system, and my lack of them, 33 years ago I completed a 3 Star WW course in a f/glass boat on the rocky R Wye. The BCU have long since lost any knowledge of this. I tried to a find record of it; but alas. I find the whole set up myopic; I mean, log books, come on! Equally if I meet a new paddler and they introduce themselves as a such and such *Star paddler my mind turns to fright and I envisage an immensely dull day on the water full of furtive glances to confirm 'line of sight' paddling, and group cohesion. The sort of glance I used to caste, and still do on occasion.

34 years ago, in the good old bad old days, I was instructing in an environment where the only requirement was the presence of a teacher or qualified lifeguard. I witnessed some terrors committed by said teachers and, on one occasion, found myself involved with a youth group whose only apparent reason for their weekend in Blaenavon was to cover for two teachers conducting an affair of the heart. I am certainly glad those days are gone.

My involvement in establishing the Civil Service Club in the 80's went pretty much without a hitch, due to my previous experience working with the yout' service. Until of course my Committee (I held several posts) decided that Courses were now appropriate. From that point on, and for various personnel reasons, my interest in the Club began to wane. Fortunately, as a founder, I have life membership (I think they still remember me!) so I can claim affiliate BCU membership via my 'Club'.

It was whilst running gorges in the Pyrenees at 17 I realised that I had a real yen for paddling, and, as I explained to MarkR in Mount Nod, in 86 or 87, I found paddling had become the one outdoor pursuit that, IMO, was best for someone based in the UK. Water, water, everywhere, even more fun in the rain on occasion, portable and of sufficient breadth, history and culture to probably fulfil all my physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. I was correct, that remains the case.

Of course I've learned heaps over the years from various exploits. Significantly my own ability to make bad decisions (as well as good). Whilst paddling up the East Coast, with someone who considered themselves a 'good' paddler; mainly because they'd visited the Scilly Isles and Croatia on Adventure Holidays (brrr!!), I realised this guy could'nt actually ferry glide for sh*t. That pointed me to a more general point that I have observed elsewhere. The less able are often unable to tell who the better able are. In short, if you haven't worked out that I'm a 'good' paddler by the time we're 100mtrs from the shore, then I'm probably better than you.

As mentioned in para. 2. I do often feel remote from the mainstream (pun intended) of current (and again) UK sea paddling because I can bring no Stars to the conversation. I generally take the view that I shouldn't need to justify my abilities but there you have it. It appears I do. Hence the above diatribe.

In short and in no particular order, I think a good paddler needs these qualities;

Technical Ability

Experience - not much as long as the other attributes are sufficient to maintain Confidence. After all it's what it's all about isn't it? Doing a bit more, pushing one's self, seeing and experiencing the new.

Leadership - I used always to include the caveat of 'followship' (yes 'follow'). It's important to know your rank in a group. This is in no way a derisory thing. Being able to follow and attend to the details of the group leader will enhance one's experiences, in my view, and ultimately bring one to a point where one is competent enough to Lead.

Technical Ability - not much. As long as one is not setting out in the first place as a liability. Remaining within one's comfort zone contributes to the other aspects, importantly Confidence. This is all to do with Planning and Leadership (as in context above). We can all become dependant during a paddle; illness, equipment failure etc. Like Experience aren't we there to improve.

Attitude - Don't bring a bad attitude to the water. The sea is moody enough. Positivity, trust and belief are key. Enjoying the activity, the environment and the company will lead to improvement in all the other aspects.

Confidence – This is a product of the other aspects. Knowing one’s rank, ability, experience, expectations and what is expected will make for an Attitude that will help with improvement and enjoyment.

Contribution - Awareness really. Being pro active. Making the tea, attending to the kit. If everyone completes the tasks they need to in order to look after themselves and their kit, plus one or two more the work evaporates and the whole shebang becomes more enjoyable. There's nothing like peering out of a tent in the peeing rain, at a half unloaded soaking wet boat, wondering if someone bothered to bring the sugar in.. If you're not sure what to do ask; there's no shame in that.

Planning - All the usual and oft discussed points in this one. Safety, contigency planning, technical level, etc etc.

A couple of final points I'd like to make..

Once one has required a certain level of ability it imperative to learn the arts of pompous self-indulgence :-) (see paras' above).

Lastly.. Never, ever, ever, whilst contributing to sea kayaking forums attempt to post without at least trying to get more words in the pane than Jim :-)

"I sink therfore I am".

Post Reply