5 Star

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Mark R
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5 Star

Post by Mark R » Tue Mar 15, 2005 7:44 pm

Did you know that one of the members of the seminal 80's dance band 'Five Star' has since changed genders? No? I'd better talk about paddling then.


I have completed 5 Star training Inland and Sea in years long past. I have never even considered going for assessment, don't have any professional need for either.

BUT I'm looking for challenges to focus my paddling. I am vaguely considering going for Sea assessment this year, just to see if I can do it.

What makes a Five Star Sea paddler? Any thoughts?

The answer to this question perplexes me. I spend most of my time in WW paddling circles and know that the Inland 5 Star award is no pushover, but simply an indication that a paddler can paddle grade 3 and 4 with his peers safely and competently. A respectable award, but no huge deal.

On the other hand, the Five Star Sea seems to be regarded as some kind of posthumously awarded medal of valour. For instance, the tales of battling Force 7 on Skye at the weekend during an assessment sound outlandish to me. I don't consider myself a weak or inexperienced sea paddler, but I don't seem to be a 'Five Star' sea paddler as there is no way I would go ahead with a trip in such conditions, not least because it's no fun.

So erm...if I decide to go ahead with Assessment, what do I need to do to prepare? Start going out in awful weather? Or have I missed the point completely?
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adrian j pullin
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5* sea

Post by adrian j pullin » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:42 pm

According to the BCU (from http://www.bcu.org.uk/pdfdocs/4-5%20sta ... 0kayak.pdf)

"The purpose of this test...lead others of adequate ability on sea...advanced level, with safety, in British conditions.
...tidal races, headlands, open crossings, swell and challenging coastlines The award...all those people who journey on the sea on a regular basis and should not be seen as the preserve of a few elite performers. "

I have not done 5* sea training but have been out with Nigel Dennis in conditions that he identified as 5* (and he should know!). They did not seem to me to be that difficult and certainly fitted in with the description above.

To some extent though, it depends on what rings your bell (or in my case scares you ****less). 5* Open looks attainable to me as there is nothing in it that scares me. 5* sea is probably also within my reach. I would have to train and practice to get to the required standard but I think I could do it. I have come to the conclusion that 5* inland is beyond me as I would like all my limbs to remain properly attached.

The only way to find out would be to do it. You could do a training first (even though you have done one, 5* training has moved on a lot over the years).

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Zoe Newsam
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Leadership & judgement...

Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:02 am

To me, 5* sea is an endorsement of a paddler's leadership ability, and their ability to make a good judgement call in whatever situation the sea around Britain might throw at them. I haven't done 5* (yet), but am planning to do the training at the Anglesey symposium, and potentially the assessment later in the year. It is essentially aimed at people leading groups of their peers in advanced conditions. The BCU blurb tells all about that, and has a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the syllabus. Guinea pigging is also a great way to find out how it works.

I was staying at ASSC at the weekend, and had a discussion with Nigel Dennis about sea paddlers and rolling- he said 'you may never need to use your roll on the sea in anger, if your judgement is good enough'. To me, that's the point: 5* doesn't prove that you're a beardy masochist who enjoys paddling in storm force 10 and 8-knot tides, it just shows that you can make sound decisions when faced with difficult conditions, according to the ability & experience of the group. One of the most important skills in my book is knowing when NOT to paddle or when to turn back.

Then there is the argument about experience:
The BCU prerequisites site only 6 journeys on the sea.
I have been told before that certain people think I don't have enough experience to do 5*, having only been paddling 20 months. However I've done well over a thousand miles in that time on the West coast of Scotland, Anglesey, the South Coast & the NE coast. I've had coaching from some very good coaches and worked hard on my skills, and paddled regularly in definitive '5* conditions'. I also, however, have 25 years sailing experience, 10 years mountaineering experience, and the paddling trips I've done have been led mostly by me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it would be fair to say it's possible to rack up experience reasonably fast if you work hard at it.

So, what is the defining factor of experience? DISCUSS!
I know people who've been paddling 20 years and find conditions I think manageable, totally unthinkable, and would never consider leading a trip.

Ok, RANT over! ;0)

Zoe[/u]

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Post by tpage » Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:35 am

I had the impression that the 5* qualification was aimed at people who want to lead groups. But that kind of comes with (rightly or wrongly) the implied responsibility for a group. This would make sense if it was something you enjoy, is your job or you aspire to. I can see a value in taking the training for the reason that you will be exposed to expert advice on navigation, route planning and rescues techniques. But surely the main reason for taking the assessment it is to get the sew-on badge and certificate:-) Tony

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Post by ChrisS » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:00 pm

5* = lead groups in advanced conditions
4* = be a member of a group in moderate conditions

Is this logical? Who is the 5* paddler supposed to lead in advanced conditions? The system seems to be missing a 4 1/2* qualification for people who can be a member of a group, but not lead, in advanced conditions.

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Post by Guest » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:28 pm

zoenewsam wrote
Then there is the argument about experience:

I have been told before that certain people think I don't have enough experience to do 5*, having only been paddling 20 months

I’m no where near being at 5* level, but I get lots of negative vibes regarding what I should or should not be doing.

I attend twice weekly pool sessions to practice support stokes, rolling etc. But having just got into sea kayaking early last year the general view seems to be that I must be insane to plan and take part in trips for just myself and my partner.

Admittedly the sea does scare the s**te out of me, but as a self confessed “obsessive compulsive” and I now seem to spend all my time reading/thinking and pestering people about sea kayaking!

At times it can be stressful planning trips, but I hope I can now identify areas and weather I can and can not handle. Many a times we’ve turned up at the coast (boats on the car) and ended up walking/climbing because we’ve not like the look of the sea or we thought the weathers not stable enough, on a four-day trip to Scotland we only kayaked once.

Now I tend to keep quite about things done or are planning to do and avoid the negative feedback.

.............That’s my 2 cents worth.

Cheers
Gavin

ps It’s not all bad, lots of people are very supportive, Surf Lines Llanberis especially so (no snobbery or elitism their).

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5*

Post by Guest » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:58 pm

Chris S is correct, the book says that a 4* is capable of being lead in moderate conditions and that a 5* is capable of leading others of 'adequate' ability in upto advanced British conditions. There is a huge leap from 4* to 5* and I agree there is definitely room for a qulification between.

As to the assessment itself; I hold both 5* inland and 5* sea. The sea qualification was the much more demanding of the two, as you hint at Mark. Whilst paddling ability, planning, nav, knowledge, group control, rescues etc. all played a large part; decision making carried the most weight. 2 out of the 3 on my assessment failed, both on making the wrong decisions.

There is much more to go wrong on the sea, if you are 5 miles offshore when things go wrong, you can't just paddle over to the eddy and walk home. I think my training and assessments were pitched very well at ensuring you understood when was good to go and when was not. After all, if you really have to demonstrate your paddling, nav and rescue skills to such a high level on a day out, it probably means your decision to go in the first place may need looking at!

Saying all that, there was definite encouragement to take people out to have a bit of an adventure - but to ensure you could cope with this (with a group) and when to know when not to go.

5* trips are not all bad weather and masochism, a dead calm day with a big tide race or large cliffs with no landing points could both be seen as 5*.

JW

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Zoe Newsam
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Keep at it!!

Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Mar 16, 2005 4:45 pm

Guest wrote:
I’m no where near being at 5* level, but I get lots of negative vibes regarding what I should or should not be doing.

Now I tend to keep quite about things done or are planning to do and avoid the negative feedback.
I know exactly what you mean- don't let it get to you. Some people can be real know-it-alls. When I started, the August before last, I didn't know anyone else who paddled & had to use judgement based on other outdoor experience to decide what I should and shouldn't do solo. As long as you're careful and not over-ambitious, there's nothing wrong with being a novice. And if you're not being spoon-fed by other people or playing follow-my-leader, the learning curve will be very steep. There are a lot of very experienced & knowledgeable people out there (and on this forum) who will be bursting to give you help & support and share their experience with you.

Go to a symposium too- they're a great way to learn & improve- you get the chance to paddle with people who can fish you out of the doo-doo if necessary, and so give you the opportunity to try things you otherwise might not.

As for 5*, I have had people not believe that I have clocked up the experience that I have, and for me it may be a good way of proving that!

Gavin- where are you based?

Zoe

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5 Star

Post by CaileanMac » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:05 am

It is common knowledge that there are 'glaring' issues with various BCU awards and practices. It is wrong to look upon 5 Star Sea as a logically progression from 4 Star. The system was never designed to operate like that (Pre 1997 - Advanced Sea & Proficiency, SI, blah, blah). The awards were simply given numbers to fit in with the rest of the BCU scheme.

However we are where we are today and aren't going to change that overnight. A 5 Star Sea holder should be confident in advanced conditions which may include several of the below listed factors - F6 winds, 6 knots tide, Swell 5ft, working in 'remote areas' and launching / landing in 'difficult' areas (rocky shorelines, coves and through 3ft + surf) all with a group of people of sufficient ability & experience to deal with in the prevailing conditions.

I have been involved over the past 2 seasons in training and preparing 3 folks for 5 Star Sea assessments (all 3 passed) and firmly believe that an suitablely experienced (some else can define that one!) sea kayaker can achieve the required standard for the award within starting a programme of pre-assessment training within 6 months - 1 year (after training course). This however depends on how frequently people train / paddle / motivation / time available / etc. It is possible if you are committed to reach the standard within 2 years of starting out sea kayaking or it might take you 15 seasons, we are all human and have differing abilities and also a life hopefully outwith sea kayaking?! We all learn in different ways and at different paces (some of us, have to stick our hands in fire several times before learning....)

Lets remember also that the assessment standard for 5 Star Sea in the past 5 - 10 years has been 'watered' down and is now at an achievable standard for those of us who don't walk on water. The standard of the award should not be lowered or 'watered' down any further in order, to ensure it meets the aim of the award - 'the award holder should be capable of leading groups of sufficient experience in advanced UK conditions' (not a direct quote, but one from memory of the opening lines of the syllabus). The sea is not an environment in which you can stop and float around to make decisions and it is the one of most dynamic and harsh environments, we as humans venture into, therefore the assessment standard should be high.

The idea that you can simply do the 5 Star Training course and practice a few times in insolation will result in you not passing or scrapping a bear pass (little real value in this for your own paddling development). Pre-assessment training is vital with fellow candidates working towards assessment and if needed coaches - advice, guidance, support / motivation, debating merits of gear / techniques and carrying out 'real' practice, in 'real' conditions, not in sheltered bays, in 2 knot tidal flows eddies or on simple F3 seas (that isn't 5 Star...). Don't spend time working and practising with people who did their assessment 10 years ago or coaches who are not currently active in the training or assessment of 5 Star Sea (at least 3 courses in last 3 years). There is a lot of out of date advice afloat out there and ideas / techniques and their application moved on and evolved like everything in life.

Finally you don't need to have a shaggy beard to pass your 5 Star Sea Kayak award or be a BCU sea kayak coach. It's not about paddling in F8 / 9 winds, in 20ft swell - that is beyond 5 Star and the BCU scheme, and there is a whole ocean of full of adventures and learning outwith the world according to the BCU.

I look forward to other people's views and ideas........ :-)

Finally Mark & others - go for it, it will give you a focus for the season and improve your own skills and awareness levels. Post message on forum if you want advice or guidance. :-)

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4.5 Star

Post by CaileanMac » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:17 am

The missing bit in the BCU scheme a 4.5 star......

Have a look on the Irish Canoe Union website at the level 3, 4 and 5 proficiency awards sea (they are at bottom of list). You will notice they are very similar to the BCU awards but the level 4 is designed in mind with groups of peers paddling in tidal waters and NOT being led as a compentant group member. Hence the link between group member (4 star), paddling with peers and leading (5 Star).


http://www.irishcanoeunion.com/proficiency/

Also for those interested have a look at the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia's website and their Guide Educational Modules:

http://www.skgabc.com/GEMS.pdf

Have other links to other sea kayak leading / guiding / coaching websites in other parts of the world as well. There is much to be learnt from looking at other people's ideas and standards in other countries.

:-)

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Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:28 am

ChrisS wrote:5* = lead groups in advanced conditions
4* = be a member of a group in moderate conditions

Is this logical? Who is the 5* paddler supposed to lead in advanced conditions? The system seems to be missing a 4 1/2* qualification for people who can be a member of a group, but not lead, in advanced conditions.
My understanding from my knowledge of the Inland 5 Star, is that the award is aimed at those who want to lead among their 'peers' - in other words, they have similar skills and experience to you.


BTW a separate thing, I have issues with the word 'lead' anyway. I have an inbuilt mechanism that makes me immediately ignore anyone who claims to be 'leading' me, and I hope you'll all do the same for me if I ever claim to 'lead' you on the water.
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Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:42 am

Interesting opinions, but my feeling so far...

Nothing much here to allay my long-held suspicion that the 5 Star has elements of a 'private club' feel to it, preserved by those who are more interested in preserving elite status than reflecting the realities encountered by most normal competent paddlers - who, I would suggest, simply do not usually go out sea paddling in really rough weather and plan their trips around avoiding such conditions.


I have to say, reading this thread has dampened my enthusiasm for pursuing assessment.
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Re: 5*

Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:47 am

Anonymous wrote:I think my training and assessments were pitched very well at ensuring you understood when was good to go and when was not.
The most agreeable thing I've read in this thread about the award. I get the impression though, that the reality is more about the survival aspect and less about the pre-paddle decision.
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Post by Guest » Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:18 pm

Hi Zoe,

Thanks for the words of encouragement.

The whole obsession with sea kayaking started following a great weekend with ASSC; my bank balance will never be the same again! But every penny spent on sea kayaking has been worth it (apart from the chill cheater cag – no street cred in looking like a gimp).

Will be taking your advice re symposiums, went to the Cwm Pennant one last year which was great and hope to be at the Anglesey one.

Based in the North West at the moment, big aim for the year is either circum nav Anglesey or trip around the Llyn (assuming we can book an instructor to lead the way-know my limitations and all that)

Cheers

Gavin

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Bit of a speech...

Post by Rockpool » Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:48 pm

5* Sea seems to be the least defined of all the awards but there are ways of passing this award comfortably...

Know the area where you will be tested. Paddle it a few times in different weather/tidal conditions. This does not have to be a stressful on-the-spot scouting test, your chart is there as a backup not as your primary means of knowing your location.

Know the Assessor's agenda, they will have their own! Some like a lot of chartwork, some like weather, some like silly tricks performed inverted, some like paddling for miles and miles at 6 knots...

The rest is down to judgment and skill. All Assessors will have scenarios and locations where they like things to happen.

You need “plans” in your head at any one time: a 5min plan, a 30min plan and a 1hour plan. You'll be implementing the 5min plan, working towards the 30min plan, and keeping the 1hour plan in perspective. Some scenarios are unfeasible; accept ones you can cope with, decline silly challenges, you’ll be debriefed at the end on whether your standard is acceptable for this grade.

If you are "experienced", you will be confident enough to rely on your past experiences to make judgment calls as they arise, happy in the fact that you have a good perspective over the whole event.

If you are not so "experienced" then you need a bombproof game plan or live on your wits – scary! You need to dress-rehearse all the scenarios. This is the hardest way of passing; the Assessor will detect your lack of flexibility and adeptness and will try to force you into making judgment calls, forcing an error. After all, they need to see if you’re safe, always.

Don't be put off by other candidates making a right hash of things, stick to what you know and how you want to run things. When the other candidate makes a "fluff" and you have to take over, brief the Assessor with your account of the situation and what you are planning to do next. Stop the rot, and take decisive action, don’t accept a bad inheritance.

Remember, you may need to use your towline more than once, often in quick succession. Sort out an effective and quick re-entry; this is a set piece and really highlights good paddling skill, or lack of.

Trip leading is not about delegation, sometimes you have to jump right in...

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Post by adrian j pullin » Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:56 pm

Mark said:
BTW a separate thing, I have issues with the word 'lead' anyway. I have an inbuilt mechanism that makes me immediately ignore anyone who claims to be 'leading' me, and I hope you'll all do the same for me if I ever claim to 'lead' you on the water.
Different interpretations of the word "lead" here I think. 5* (S, K or C) is not the same "lead" as L3 coach with a 4* group, as I undertand it. If you are 4* and I am leading, I would broadly expect to "direct" the trip, including access, egress, route down river or along coast. Although to get 4* I would expect you to select your route down appropriate rapids, e.g. At Eddylines, I tell you to go right on the bottom drop but you sort out how you get down it. For sea I would select the bay to land in and expect you to select exactly where to land and how. You are managing YOUR paddling, I am managing the journey and the group.

At 5* (not got any 5*...done 5* inland traing twice and bottled it both times!) the leader is more like the chairman of a meeting. Central point for discussions etc. So, I would not expect to be telling anyone how or whether to run anything, but for example when running grade 4 Alpine, someone needs to identify who runs first etc.

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Post by Zoe Newsam » Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:31 pm

Gavin, see you at the Anglesey symposium! Get in touch with North West Sea Kayakers too- there are some very experienced paddlers there- you might find someone to do the Lleyn & Anglesey trips with.

www.nwsk.org.uk

Use their message board to contact them- they'll be more than happy to help out.

Rockpool- great advice, thanks. ;0) BTW, as someone who is extremely 'experienced', what would you say that means???

Zoe

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Re: Bit of a speech...

Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:25 pm

Rockpool wrote:Know the area where you will be tested.
Really interesting points RP, but this leapt out...if this really is essential, doesn't this make the whole process silly? What's the value in being tested on your ability to take on advanced conditions, if you are only likely to pass by paddling in a personal comfort zone?

It'd be a bit like an Inland 5 Star where you'd guessed the river and gone out and memorised all the rapids the week before...no doubt it'd help you pass, but it wouldn't make you a better paddler.



Just read some of my posts from last night. Good heavens, I was in a miserable mood.
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!

Post by willsc1 » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:06 pm

guidebook wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think my training and assessments were pitched very well at ensuring you understood when was good to go and when was not.
The most agreeable thing I've read in this thread about the award. I get the impression though, that the reality is more about the survival aspect and less about the pre-paddle decision.
Mark, I didn't put it across too well. I was sceptical about the 5* training but it was very useful, I also learnt a lot on the assessment. (I also taught myself much when I was preaparing for it!) The reality on the day(s) was more about decisions; both on the beach and on the water. The survival aspect was covered, but more so to ensure you were capable of sorting things out if you made the wrong call or for events outside of your control.

Also got to say I've never really been one for quals myself either. But then I thought this one could be useful as I have a few 'river' friends who wanted to be taken out on the big, bad ocean. Thought it would be sensible to have some paperwork! Besides that I did learn a lot and someone else paid for it!

Got to say I disagree with Rockpool on this one too. Great advice if you just want to pass and get the sticky little certificate but perhaps you should see it as a learning process, a way to show yourself where you may need emphasis. Granted it's not a bad thing to make life easier but surely you would learn more by not just jumping through the hoops.

JW

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Go for it Mark!

Post by Craig Addison » Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:53 am

Mark, if I can pass 5* I'm sure you can, unlike advice previous posts, I had no formal 5* training, didn't know the surroundings, never paddled the area before & only went for the assessment because I had just paddled round Anglesey & the same centre was holding a 5* weekend starting as soon as the Anglesey trip finished, i just thought well I might as well try it & see how get on & to my surprise I passed, it was a few years ago though so I am probably not the best person to ask for advice!!

For me it was a thouroughly enjoyable experience.

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Post by Rockpool » Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:03 pm

Isn’t this 5* issue interesting?

Guidebook: The leadership element of the 5* requires you to be within your comfort zone at all times when leading others. Leading in advanced conditions in unknown waters should be reserved for the very brave or expeditions, and is the upper limit of the award. Not many Assessors require you to go through that level of intensity. IMHO, to comfortably look after a group you need to be familiar with your surroundings, so in the event of an emergency or change of plan you can make realistic decisions rather than educated guesses. There lies the distinction between 5* Inland and 5* Sea: at sea you cannot scout from the bank to make decisions.

Willsc1: I’m with you all the way! I hate hoops, certificates and politics. It’s all about the learning. Training should be relevant to knowledge, experience and aspirations. Parts of my post highlighted the methods used by many candidates I’ve seen to take their 5* assessment, was tongue in cheek and not meant as “this is how it should be”. It’s the difference between chasing the certificate and picking it up along your way. Craig must have been in the fortunate position of having the experience and judgement to breeze through his assessment. Nice one Craig!

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Post by CaileanMac » Sat Mar 19, 2005 12:35 pm

This thread has generated a lot of thought and debate - that is education in its own right. The better informed we are, the better the quality of decisions we can make.

Let us all remember that 5 Star is simply a test of abilites, judgement, knowledge and experience, against a set benchmark. The real process of learning how to kayak safely and efficiently on the ocean never stops and you need a great depth of time spent floating around in all conditions on the ocean before you should start to take responsiblity for others out on the ocean.

5 Star is not an end point by any means and the learning process to get to it and afterwards is crucial. Focus on quality learning and getting modern coaching and you will improve as a paddler, and have 'real' depth to your abilities, understanding, knowledge and judgement.

'REAL Experience is the sum total of series of controlled epics'

Why get hung up on assessments - the only reason we do them is that we feel we have to prove something to someone (yourself, employer, club, etc). However the ocean couldn't care less if you had 1, 5 or 10 Stars, if you end up on the 'poop' zone because of your decisions or judgement, it will give you a 'kicking' that may cost your dearly.

The learning process as Rockpool indicated is the crucial part, and the 5 Star assessment, well like all other human assessments, we find ways to pass them - tricks, tips and stratgeties. Remember your driving test, workplace assessment, school / university exams.......the real learning often happen after the assessment didn't it?

Thoughts?????

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Post by MikeB » Sat Mar 19, 2005 3:47 pm

Thoughts and ramblings:

Assessments & "tests" are an anathama for many folk as they imply "judgement" of one's abilities and skills by someone else and given that lots of the folk who sea-paddle are independant personalities, submitting to someone's judgement is something that doesn't come naturally - perhaps.

Being "told what to do" is also very difficult for some of us - although my personal view is that good coaching is all about getting people to recognise where they fall below the benchmark and in then helping them to reach (or exceed) it.

Sadly of course, many of the so-called "experts" still like to think of themselves as "instructors" with all the implications that term has. That said, it's a fact that a lot of people in sport and even in management still don;t understand the difference between teaching, learning and coaching.

Maybe there's also a fear / concern that what we like to think of as well-developed skills are not that good when compared against a benchmark? Pride will be hurt.

We all hear the stories of people being asked to perform tricks that are not in the sylabus - the "capsize / recover spare paddle / roll" concept. It's a form of self rescue, but is it a requirement?

The macho, sea-gull-eating, "surviving force 10 conditions "image may not help either?

All that said, being able to demonstrate that your skills are up to a given level is (for me anyway) quite comforting in that it gives me a measure of what I can (should??) be able to cope with and that helps me in deciding what I will or will not attempt. Maybe I'm over-cautious or too risk averse, but the thought of attempting something totally outwith what I perceive as my ability fills me with some concerm, not just for my own safety, but for the folk who may have to sort out the mess I get myself into!

It also gives me a lot of comfort if I know that the people I paddle with have proved that they can tow / rescue / cope with conditions to whatever level - if nothing else, it means I only have to worry about myself and perhaps not too much about them. When it's all gone pear shaped, the chances are that I might be operating at the limit of my own abaility to look after myself, let alone cope with someone else.

So how DO I expand my paddling envelope? The anwer to that is, I suppose, to paddle with folk who's ability exceeds mine, and if that means I have to "swallow my pride" and accept that I things to learn (which I do - we all do - or at least we should be prepared to accept that we are always learning - - - ) then that's something I'll do.

It wasn't until I met someone capable of looking after me and my mates that the river-paddling group I paddled with some years ago were introduced to "bigger" water than the Tay, that we started pushing our boundaries. Being secure in the knowledge that the guy we were with both knew the river AND was able to advise whether we could in fact do it, was enormously helpful at the time.

The same holds true for the sea (more so for me - the psycological aspect of not being able to swim to a bank is a factor I admit to) so I want to find some way of putting myself outside my comfort zone, but secure in the knowledge that Gordon / Cailean / whoever is going to be able to sort me out, get me back in the boat, and coach me to develop the skills I need.

Is a 5 star training course the way to do that? If so, I'm up for it. Is submitting myself for assessment against that benchmark some form of "badge of honour" or merely proof to me as an individual and those I paddle with that I can perform to that level in given conditions? Don't know.

Am I bothered that I may not pass the assessment? No - because I'll regard it as a personal development opportunity and some way of identifying the skill-gap I need to improve.

As a personal Training Needs Analysis, it seems like a good idea - - - -

End of rambling - Mike.

trigger
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Re: 5 Star hmmmm

Post by trigger » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:50 pm

Hey Folks, this is a really useful debate I live near appledore and my standard paddles include the Bideford bar, Hartland Point, and morte point near Woolacombe, the reason this is relevant is that I am well ready for my 4* assessment and combined with other industry experience means that I can go on and coach almost immediately after assessment, however in good conciousness I'm not sure that other than the short and sheltered days it would be right.... you see I do think 5* is potentially elitest but that means that only skilled and experienced paddlers will pass preventing ticket chasers from grabbing it, my area can be super heavy and commiting when its on and to say I can lead in that environment should be to say I'm an expert paddler, the beauty of assessment is that I may fail, but if I do then I will gain an insight to my weakness and will not gain access to leading in a dynamic and dangerous environment. I surf and inland paddle also but there is always a bank...a beach ...a landing, at sea in a strengthening wind with swell and tidal affectations your knowledge should be that of an expert, therefore i think coupled with the new endorsements nav courses and coaching scheme the BCU may have got it right, so im gonna do the 4* then go straight to 5* training (Possibly assessment)but I accept that although im prepared to paddle solo in advanced conditions the assessors will determine whether or not im suitable to lead in them, I'd like to think I am and I want to help others access the magic that we know as sea paddlers, but I just need some stars! as an aside I read Mark R's southwest guide cover to cover last week... I reckon you should hold enough experience to cope with 5* assessment if not maybe ive got myself wrong..... also im 32 years old have light stubble but no beard!!! welcome to the future!

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mduncombe
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Re:

Post by mduncombe » Tue Aug 30, 2011 8:59 pm

At times it can be stressful planning trips, but I hope I can now identify areas and weather I can and can not handle. Many a times we’ve turned up at the coast (boats on the car) and ended up walking/climbing because we’ve not like the look of the sea or we thought the weathers not stable enough, on a four-day trip to Scotland we only kayaked once.
Sounds sensible to me, if it doesn't feel right don't do it. No shame in that. Build on your experience bit by bit. I have been kayaking on the sea for just about a year now along with my partner, building on our skills and experience at a rate we are comfortable with, adding in a few days training now and gain with a good coach to address things we are not happy with.

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Mike Mayberry
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Re: 5 Star

Post by Mike Mayberry » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:34 am

The difference between four and five star is simple. Four star is taken in a moderate tidal water environment in winds up to force 4, not involving tide races, blah, blah, blah. Five star is above that. On my training we were told that if we wanted to go out in a force 8 that was our business but five star didn't mean that.

I'm looking to do my sea assessment at the end of October. Since training I've completed the Irish Sea crossing from Rosslare to Whitesands and I depart next week to Circumnavigate Wales. This means that I will have far exceeded the log book experience required for assessment, but that's me. I don't like to go to assessment unless I know I am capable, assessments should be just turn up and do what you do. Unless I have the above difference wrong I fear it may have all been a waste of time!

I did the five star inland back in 2001 and passed, only two out of five of us did if I recall correctly. I believe the difference between the sea and the inland is the amount of theory in involved for the sea, ie. tides, weather forecasting, equipment etc. As someone said, it's as much (if not more) about knowing when not to go as it is about paddling skills.

Of course, since Mark started this topic the syllabi have changed.

tg
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Re: 5 Star

Post by tg » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:41 pm

Personally I'd like to see a simple more skills based system, with relevant attached courses, nav. first aid, etc. and leave the leadership as a seperate area of development.

Tim
"I sink therfore I am".

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MikeB
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Re: 5 Star

Post by MikeB » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:42 pm

tg wrote:Personally I'd like to see a simple more skills based system, with relevant attached courses, nav. first aid, etc. and leave the leadership as a seperate area of development.

Tim
I tend to agree. That said, the measure of leadership ability is useful and there is a distinction between being competent to paddle in challenging conditions and lead others (even in less challenging conditions). Mike.

dpround
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Re: 5 Star

Post by dpround » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:11 pm

It may be that the leadership element will be separated out to some extent. I did a prototype "Certificate of competence" for group leadership, which was described as like a coaching qualification without the coaching bit. Perhaps when the scheme is finished this will end up as level 1 - X leader qualification. I think that separating the leadership from the coaching and technical ability makes good sense and would make the scheme much clearer.

David

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OwenBurson
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Re: 5 Star

Post by OwenBurson » Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:04 pm

dpround wrote:It may be that the leadership element will be separated out to some extent.

David
Very highly unlikely!

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