The Pacific Paddling Symposium was Just Plain Awesome

Thursday, 05 June 2014

This past weekend I was invited to teach at the 2nd annual Pacific Paddling Symposium which took at Pearson College place just outside of Victoria, British Columbia and boy did I have a good time.

With just a few work vacation days left (it was poor planning as I have used up almost the entire years' worth already...) I flew into Victoria on Wednesday night with the plan to get together with some friends on Thursday afternoon and do some paddling in the tidal currents off Trial Island (map link).

Matt Nelson playing in the currents at Trial Island, BC.

Even though the locals said the currents were not as fast and gnarly as they often are, the 3.5-4 foot high surf waves were perfectly fun with lots of hoots and hollering from all 10 of us out playing in it.

The event started on Friday morning with an instructor training day for the coaches working the event. This year's guests included former Olympian coach, Dan Henderson who did a forward stroke clinic as well as Nigel Foster who ran a clinic in the afternoon on messing around in kayaks with weird and silly strokes.

The main part of the symposium itself took place Saturday and Sunday and attracted about 80-90 local, mainly intermediate paddlers who attended a wide variety of clinics covering everything from coastal exploration, paddling in currents, surfing, fitness paddling, Greenland rolling, and rough water paddling plus many more.

This year I was able to work with a pretty top-notch group of instructors including an introduction currents class with Kate Hives (from The Hurricane Riders), boat control with Nigel Foster and bracing and edging with one of the event organizers, Gary Doran.

I really enjoyed working with Kate's intro to currents class as she is a pretty fantastic instructor. She has a good ability to read nervous paddlers and make them feel like they shouldn't be worried and just give the activity a try.

Kate Hives planning out the afternoon with the group at the Pacific Paddling Symposium.

Since we had a full day to work with, we were able to get out of the bay and work our way up the coast with the students looking for current and eddies to play in. The class was scheduled to take advantage of the slack tide so it was probably 2 knots at the time we were out playing in it. It wasn't anything major so it was perfect for beginners. Later in the afternoon the same current was traveling along at a much more respectable 4-5 knots but we were back home by then.

The coaching list this year was a really fun group of people to work and hang out with including Matt Nelson, Blair Doyle, Erik Ogaard, Michael Pardy, James Roberts, Dympna Hayes, Rowan Gloag, Meaghan Hennessy, James Manke and my buddy, Costain Leonard.

You know what's also cool about British Columbia? It has a whole pile of nature and it's happy to shove it right in your face. I guess there is nature everywhere but let's be honest, I get excited at home if I see a perch in the water at home. Over the weekend we saw Bald Eagles, jellyfish, starfish, 7 deer, a huge number of seals, a mink and a military submarine. The sub was awesome to watch getting towed out to sea presumably on its way to attach some bad guys or to sneak a world-class spy into a foreign country.

Submarine at the Pacific Paddling Symposium

So, what are you doing this time next year? Make sure your calendar is clear and keep an eye out for registration dates. Did you know that the entire event sold out in 26 hours? Yes it did. Paddlers around here don't mess around when it comes to registration dates so make sure you register early.

More info:


David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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