Spiekeroog offered a unique opportunity to combine the NKB-SAU kayakcourse with a Greenland rolling class with Freya Hoffmeister. Many participants of the course made use of this occasion and all were very enthusiast about it. Of course I took my chance too ;-)
If you read a kayak blog once in a while Freya probably won’t need any introduction. When you are new in this world: have a look at her website (it seems that some mr. D is involved in the making of). Freya is a great ambassador of Greenland style kayaking. QajaqUSA promotes the traditions and techniques of Greenland kayaking while seeking to further the appreciation and development of Greenland-style kayaking in the United States. It seems to be a big deal over there, with a lot of highly frequented Greenland Style symposia. In Europe Greenland style kayaking also is getting more attention. Since last year there is a Dutch qajaq-organisation, and with the Veluwe Rally in September 2006 the second Dutch Qajaq Meeting takes place.
At Spiekeroog Freya offered the interested a Rolling class starting with a (groupwise) theoretical introduction with a demonstration of the different rolls that lasted about 1,5 hours, followed by 2 individual lessons of each half an hour in one of her Greenland Kayaks. More than 20 people took part in the lessons, so you can figure out how many hours Freya spent standing up to here middle in the chilling cold water of the North Sea…
As I was busy coaching the Dutch-German group I didn’t have time to do a complete class myself (alas!). But I didn’t want to miss the experience so I made an appointment with Freya for an extra half hour session Saturday-afternoon, after Govert and I had delivered our groups safely back in Neuharlingersiel.
The rolling session with Freya was my first real introduction to Greenland Style rolling. I had never paddled or rolled a Greenland kayak before and also the Greenland-paddle (the stick) was new for me. Freya explained me the static brace, the butterfly roll, some different rolls with the Greenland paddle finishing forward and backwards and finally hand rolling. Quite a lot in 30 minutes, but I did ask for an overall-impression…
1. It was a great experience. I am very impressed:
by the perfect control and the natural feel the Greenland style kayaks and paddles offer when rolling;
2. it’s so easy to roll, that you can roll in slow motion and completely concentrate on body movement and the coordination of the roll (and coordination is complex with some Greenland rolls);
3. but most of all: I am so impressed by the way Freya did her classes! She talks fast, but she takes so much time and patience in teaching you the Greenland skills. I was her last pupil: before my private session, she had been standing three days, 25 hours in the cold water and yet she still was addicted to give me a complete impression of Greenland style rolling. Thanks Freya!
I did the session with Freya in Sexy Hexy, the Japanese carbon fibre Qajaq. After the lesson Freya loaned me her skin-on-frame kayak to try it out myself. I noticed some difference in comfort but the handling was very equal. It rolled just as perfect. I love it. I think I am going to have a good talk with Hakola in the near future…
Today I tried some of the Greenland techniques with my euro-paddles and my own kayaks in Woerden. A static brace in the roomy Svalbard with an euro-paddle is the perfect way to get drowned. It lacks boat contact, and I can’t lean far enough back on the Svalbard. The Greenland techniques worked better with the ww-kayak and the Valley Pintail. Though I had to adapt the Pintail a little bit: I added a block of 10 cm foam on my upper legs, slided forward on the seat and took out the back support. Nice for rolling, not so good for paddling.