Kayak and Canoe

Saturday 1 June 2013

My son Bo is off on a canoeing and camping adventure this weekend. He knows a little of canoeing but is more experienced with kayaking. Here’s something he wrote about it last year for school.

Entering the flow, my boat suddenly tipped over; what had I forgotten? I was tipped over many more times and was only able to save myself with a few support strokes, the spray from the rooster tails was getting through my spray deck, and then I realised, I wasn’t edging! It was the most basic rule of white water kayaking and I had forgotten it! Just before I hit the Rooster tails I managed to put on an edge. It was the closest shave I’d had for a long time.

When you finish reading the last paragraph you may be wondering, who is this person, where are they and what on earth do rooster tails have to do with white water kayaking? Well, my name is Bo Jacobs Strøm, and I am spending part of the summer, before starting secondary school, white water kayaking at Shepperton Weir in Surrey. The most confusing thing in this piece will probably be all the kayaking words I’ll be using so here is what they mean: an edge is when you tilt your boat one way while keeping your balance (this can save you from capsizing by making the water go under your boat instead of hitting the top and capsizing you), a support stroke is a stroke from the paddle which stops you capsizing, a spray deck is a flexible cover which is fitted to the top of a kayak keeping the users bottom half dry (and stopping water getting into your boat), an eddy which is a pocket of flat water caused by a rock in the white water, and finally a rooster tail is white water which hits a rock and goes spurting up in the air.

For the past three days I had been experiencing coldness, wetness, and a lot of fun at Shepperton Weir where I had gone with the Pirate Club, a kayaking and canoeing club based in Camden. I went so I could do white water kayaking and have fun, and that was exactly what I did do.

White water kayaking was something I hadn’t done for a long time so I was a little bit worried about capsizing and so on but, although I sometimes I had a close shave, I got on well in fact the only thing I was still worried about on the second day was the swimming in white water practice...

I was standing on a rock in the middle of the white water about to jump into the flow, I was terrified, but everyone else had managed to get into the eddy so I knew it could be done. I jumped. It was just as fun as kayaking in the white water and I actually managed to get into the eddy pretty quickly. As I hit the water shut my eyes and the next thing I knew was that I was being swept down stream. I quickly made sure my feet would not snag on a rock, aimed my head at the eddy, turned over onto my front and swam for all I was worth into the eddy, now thoroughly convinced that white water kayaking would be my sport from now on.

So that’s my experience of Shepperton Weir, a great place to go if you're beginning to learn white water kayaking and for any kayaking the Pirate Club (where I spent a lot of the rest of my holiday) is a great place, especially as one of the instructors might compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic games.

Image source: Library and Archives Canada.