Saturday, September 20, 2008

The High School of kayaking with Oscar Chalupsky

pictures by Claire Chalupsky - thanks!

Only a week ago I paddled for the first time in a surfski racing kayak. As I wrote last week: it tasted like more... Part 2 today: Is there a better introduction into this (for me new) discipline of kayak-sports than having a private lesson by the 11-time winner of the Molokai World Ocean Paddling Championships and World Surfski Champion 2006/2007? Oscar Chalupsky was in the Netherlands today, to promote Epics kayaks and to give an advanced clinic on the forward stroke.
As I heard about this unique occasion I took the chance immediately. Quit remarkably that no other Dutch kayakers did. This morning Oscar was on the beach of Katwijk aan Zee with two pupils: Freya Hoffmeister (from Germany) and I. I was driven to work on my personal paddling skills and also very interested in the way such a experienced kayak-sportsman gives a lesson. And Freya of course was looking for the top tip to paddle faster around Australia ;-).

It's all about body-rotation: paddling using your hips and legs. Oscar started the lesson with exercises and drills on the beach (first out, later sitting in the kayak) focussing on body-rotation.

Then we headed out on the water - where all feels very different and after 10 minutes of sharp observation and feed-back we felt like beginners ;-) -> learning paddling from scratch. The most difficult part I found was not to push with the upper arm. It's so easily said, but it's so difficult to work on old habits...
It's clear that for a powerful forward stroke a narrow ocean cockpit with a low foredeck hinders: legs should be centered, knees high and close together and hips should have good freedom for movement. Later we swapped boats and I changed the trusty Anas Acuta for the Epic Surfski and the Epic 18x sea kayak. Oscar sent Freya and me out to paddle together and to give each other feedback.
pupil nr 1 - highly concentrated ;-)
pupil nr 2 - a bit more self-confident!

I enjoyed the morning with Oscar - learned a lot to work on my own paddling skills and I got some good tips and ways to teach others. It was also interesting to chat with Oscar, a man with a driven philosophy on kayak design and on ways to get kayaksport more accessible to wider public. And of course it was great meet Freya again. Good fun this morning!

The clinic with Oscar Chalupsky was part of the Kajakfestival this weekend in and around the WW-track of Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer. Oscar has left now, but the Kajakfestival goes on tomorrow (Sunday from 11.00 -20.00 h) with a lot of activities - amongst which the rolling clinics of Freya Hoffmeister - highly recommended!

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