Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Examen Zeevaardigheid (= 4 Star Test)

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.


Wenley said...

Hans, have you availabe the Zeevaardigheid syllabus in English?

Hans said...

Hi Wenley,

Sorry I haven't: the syllabus exists only in Dutch.

The "NKB-Zeevaardigheid-syllabus" is rather basic. In about 50 pages it covers the essentials of the theoretical part of the Dutch equivalent of the BCU 4 Star Certificate. The content regards topics like: core skills, equipment, navigation, weather, dealing with waves and currents, rescue skills, coldwater safety and so on. But as said: it’s rather basic, surely nothing new for you! And in the presentation I must admit it needs an update. When you are still interested: I can get you a copy.

Thanks for the tip on Gordon Brown’s Book: I have just ordered a copy!


Anonymous said...

... and for a brief moment, I held this "GZV"-badge in my hand.

Unfortunately, Hans noticed before I could stitch it on my PDF. Bummer!