Past weekend we organised the last “NKB-Zeevaardigheidsexamen” (= Sea Proficiency Test)of 2006 near Den Helder. Originally we planned the test to be on Saturday, but because of the wind (on Saturday 6-7 with gales up to 8 Bft) we decided to do it on Sunday. Sunday conditions were more moderate with winds around 5 Bft, decreasing in the afternoon. With a nice swell and a good surf we had perfect conditions for the test. Out of 10 candidates, 5 passed the test successful. One candidate didn’t start the practical part of the test because – standing on the dyke, looking at the waves - he found the sea state to challenging (I have great respect for this decision!), another candidate got seasick during the test, three candidates didn’t perform at the appropriate level. NKB-Zeevaardigheid requires that the static high brace is performed on both sides. Mostly this turns out to be “the proof of the pudding”. Not the favourite part of a coaching job is explaining people that they don’t meet the standards of a test. in my experience direct feedback is appreciated. Being straight and staying close to your observations doesn’t make the message less disappointing, but is essential for a good understanding.
The candidates that passed the test were rewarded with an official NKB-certificate and can stitch a “Zeevaardigheid” batch on their PDF. Somehow I associate this odd batch-cult with closed communities like Scouting, the Army or the Hells Angels. I have never been part of Scouting, the Army, nor the Hells Angels. I suppose most seakayakers don’t. Perhaps that’s why we are so eager to stitch decorations on our PDF’s: overcompensation?
While reaching out the batches - just in time - I noticed a curiosity: between the “Zeevaardigheid”-batches was a “Gevorderde Zeevaardigheid” (GZV)–batch. Unique: I didn’t know these batches (still) exist! As a matter of fact I don’t think anyone in the Netherlands ever has done the test for GZV. I found an description of the GZV-level in an old syllabus of the Commissie Zeekajakvaren of the late nineties. GZV was meant as a level above Zeevaardigheid-Extra (ZVE = 5 star BCU). The idea was to create an group of very experienced ZVE-paddlers that organises itself trainings and courses for GZV under challenging conditions. To become part of this elite group an introduction fee of 100 guilders was asked.
I am very curious if such a group of GZV-candidates ever has existed. The only thing I heard was that there were no assessors willing to assess a test under the heavy conditions a GZV-test should be performed. That is said to be the reason why GZV is abolished in the NKB system.