How many types can there be?
Well, there are quite a lot…
The club can offer the chance to do most aspects of the sport, whether in general purpose kayaks, Canadian open canoes, sea kayaks, surf kayaks, playboats, marathon racers, whitewater racers, slalom boats, lifeguard ‘Sharks’, polo kayaks, squirt boats (google it!) or you could even paddle our coracle!
For newcomers to the sport, here are some brief descriptions of the club’s most popular activities:-
Anyone who joins the club as a beginner will usually want to learn the basics in either a general purpose kayak or a Canadian open canoe before being offered the chance to do anything more adventurous. Starting with gentle coaching sessions on the non-tidal River Stour, we suggest paddlers move on to doing a few short club trips to gain some experience, and perhaps a pool session or two to practise their rescue techniques before considering what to do next.
This branch of paddling uses long, straight-line boats, specifically designed to cope with our seas. They are quite fast, cutting through waves with relative ease and they usually have storage compartments which are used for your spare kit long on day trips or even overnight camping trips.
Several of our intermediate paddlers take part in sea kayaking trips, either locally on our estuaries and coastline or on trips to other areas around the UK coastline, where you can explore dramatic cliffs, caves and rock formations, watch the wildlife or have fun in the surf.
Opening canoes are used for gentle touring trips on flat water or, for the slightly more adventurous, for whitewater trips of various grades. They can take lots of gear, so they’re popular for paddlers who want to take the whole family, and for overnight camping trips. Some of the more dedicated enthusiasts also carry a sail which they use to cover longer distances on lakes or estuaries.
Paddling an open canoe solo is not as easy as you might think, but it’s very rewarding once you’ve mastered it.
Surf kayaking is just what it says, you surf in your kayak rather than with a surf board. It’s good to be a reasonably confident paddler before you try this, but it will help to improve your skills rapidly. We use general purpose kayaks to begin with, but if you progress well, you might want to give one of our specialist surf kayaks a try.
For this we use relatively short boats which a very manoeverable, making it easier to dodge rocks as we follow the flow of the river. Whitewater includes ‘river-running’, where we paddle downstream from A to B, and playboating, where paddlers practise their skills and tricks on particular whitewater features.
It’s very popular for both kayak and canoe, and suitable for anyone from relative novices on easy grade 2 water, right up to advanced paddlers on grade 4+.
A handful of members take part in K1 and K2 marathon races (single and double kayak), including events in the regional racing series and the annual Devizes to Westminster race (the DW), which is an epic 125 mile race down the Thames completed in 24 hours (or over 4 days for those slightly less committed).
Polo is a game usually played in a swimming pool with 2 teams and 2 goals suspended above the water and it’s a bit like netball, in as far as you can’t paddle when you’re holding the ball. It’s a fun game and really helps paddlers improve their skills. Our games vary from a juniors and adult beginners game to our more advanced paddlers who are allowed to push each other over when they have the ball. (It’s the rules, honest!). We wear full protective buoyancy aids and helmets with face guards, and have a fleet of special polo kayaks that we keep just for the pool.