Friday, December 29, 2006

NKB Program 2007

Planning kayak-activities in your calendar for 2007? Have a look at the new program of the NKB seakayak committee, just published at the website. Thanks Sido!

Btw: Axel reported there is much response for the rolling clinics with Greg and Freya in the weekend of 27-28 January. The Sunday-morning session is fully booked. But there are still some places available at the other sessions. Be quick. Highly recommended!

Season's Greetings from Woerden

Loosdrechtse Plassen, 12 maart 2006

Happy New Year!

The best wishes for you and yours in 2007,
Wish you a lot of paddling fun,
Looking forward to see you in the new year,

Hans Heupink

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Facts and figures

Daily pageviews of "Kajaksport op groot water" - Onestat Sitecounter

At the end of the year you are supposed to look back. Radio, television and papers publish annual reviews and yearly statistics on all kind of themes: “the year in sport, the top 2000, crime figures decreasing, and 97 % of the inhabitants of Woerden likes Woerden…” Stuff like that. Let me add my part to this odd habit.

Exactly a year ago I added a webcounter to this blog: 9300 visitors made just over 13000 pageviews at "Kajaksport op groot water" since. The average visitor viewed 1.44 pages during his visit. From a www-view it’s peanuts, but from a sea-kayak perspective: that’s an awful lot! A fascinating part of the webounter I find the country stats, it gives a 'kick' seeing how many countries from around the world are visiting my website! The top 6:
1. Nederland 6.378 48,74%
2. Verenigde Staten van Amerika 1.680 12,84%
3. Duitsland 1.487 11,36%
4. Verenigd Koninkrijk 865 6,61%
5. Zweden 539 4,12%
6. Canada 502 3,84%
Last few months the number of foreign visits is increasing (Dutch visitors gone back to 35-40 %). Spain is new in the top 5 and Sweden has gone down to place nr. 7. Congratulations to Wenley! Top referrer is Google with about 10-12 %, directly followed by Derricks–blog (9%).

In 2006 I published 130 posts. I couldn’t imagine this before I started. It began 1,5 year ago with the Kajakwoerden-MSN-space as a service to the fellow paddlers on my kayak-trips and courses: an easy way to share pictures and reports. I can’t use that excuse anymore, the trip reports are only a minor part of this blog. Blogging about my kayak-thoughts has become something on it’s own, some kind of egocentric thing.
Over the year I noticed I am not the only addict: the seakayak-bloglist is getting longer and longer. However: not with Dutch kayakers. It surprises me that there are relatively few Dutch (sea)kayakers blogging. The few ones I know, are blogging in English! Though almost the half of the visitors of my blog are Dutch, the comments I get come for 80 % of the foreign visitors. And while there are in some countries very active seakayak communities with lively forums (e.g. or, initiatives for a Dutch Kayakforum failed. This doesn’t match at all with the recent the figures of the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA). In a recent report of the EIAA the Dutch are presented as very active participants in social-networking sites (Hyves, Myspace etc.): 34 % of the Dutch is a regular visitor of these sites, remarkable more than the European average of 24 %. Ok: Dutch seakayakers are special, I know ;-)
Almost the same can be written about the German seakayakers. There is a lively Seakayakforum, but there are hardly any German Seakayakers blogging: Freya is the only German Blogger I know. How come?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Upcoming: Greenland kayak rolling event

Kaat relaxing at Freya's Greenland Rolling Clinic at Spiekeroog, May 2006

3 January 2007: no places left: all clinics are booked - sorry!

I am happy to be able to (finally) announce the little project Axel, Nico and I’ve been working on lately. In Alphen a/d Rijn-Netherlands, in the weekend of 27 and 28 January 2007, the NKB Seakayak Committee organises, in cooperation with Zeekajak.NL, a Greenland Rolling Event with Greg Stamer and Freya Hoffmeister. You can find all the details (in Dutch) at the homepage of the NKB (the Dutch Kayak Association).

We have booked swimming pools for the whole weekend. At daytime, Saturday and Sunday, there are four workshops of 2,5 hours for 8 kayakers each. Every workshop includes an introduction and a demo by Greg and Freya, half an hour individual rolling instruction by Greg or Freya, explanation of techniques and hardware, the occasion tot try out different Greenland kayaks and modern NDK-seakayaks assisted by NKB seakayakcoaches. Tom or Dick of will also be present to show their skin-0n-frame-kayaks and to introduce you to the activities of the Dutch Greenland-kayak scene.
Exclusively for the NKB-seakayakcoaches is the clinic at Saturday-evening on teaching rolling-skills by Greg, Freya, Axel and Nico. I am curious to see how the Greenland style effects the approach of our coaches to introducing rolling skills (in a standard seakayak with a euro-blade) and what they transfer to their own teaching style. In my own practice I noticed more focus on a gentle body-movement is indeed very successful with the majority of the pupils. I don’t start my rolling-lessons anymore with learning the aggressive hip-flick.

It’s the first time we do a project like this. I hope (no: I am sure!) every participant will be as enthusiast as the organisers are now! If you want to participate: here is more about entry, costs, time and place.

Links for more information:
1. Freya about her Greenland-style teaching method;
2. Gregs Bio;
2. A video-clip with more than a dozen of Greenland-rolls performed by Andrew the Dash Point Pirate at Bonnie’s Blog;
3. All about Greenland kayak activities in the Netherlands at;
4. All you want to know about traditions and techniques of Greenland kayaking on Qajaq USA;
5. of Axel and Nico, my partners in crime ;-)

pictrure of used with kind permission of Freya Hoffmeister

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Indoor Outdoor-sports

What a difference to last weekends’ kayak-activity: the last 24 I did all outdoor-activities inside: 2 kayakclasses in the pools of Alphen and Woerden, watching Jelles’ snowboard lessons in the indoor ski slope in den Hague, and rock climbing with Jelle, Lieke and Janine at the indoor climbing hall in den Hague. Waiting for Jelle in the Uithof this morning, I regretted I didn’t bring along my marathon skates to skate some rounds at the indoor ice track...
Climate, season and topography don’t matter any more: you can do your outdoor-thing anytime, anywhere. It’s an artificial world. It comes close to virtual reality.
I still prefer the “real reality”. I had fun with all the indoor activities, but it’s not the real thing. Kayaking, biking, hiking and camping in winter is cold, wet and dirty. So what?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

NKB Coach training program

No, this isn’t what you think you see! Here are two top kayak coaches (wildwater on the left, seakayak on the right) undergoing the training program for the new NKB-coaching Style. The NKB uses all means to improve the quality of their staff!

Today was the first of 3 days of the in-service training in guided discovery learning. The new NKB coach training program is set up according to this principle. The workshops on collaborative teaching and coaching by questioning were very instructive and fun. It was a unique occasion to work with 30 Dutch coaches of all kayak- and canoe-disciplines. I am looking forward for the next workshop!

Compact wheels: the Kayak Trolley - 2

I must adjust last item I wrote about Freya’s Kayak Trolley. I said the wheels are big, but that’s relative (see the picture with a really big wheel above): they are bigger than the wheels ("puppy buggy wheels" according to Freya) of my old trolley (and therefore much better usable on sand!). And about packing: the big advantage of the Kayak Trolley is that the frame packs very compact. This packed frame is much better manageable than the unpractical bent and folded frame of most other trolleys. Frame and wheels of the Kayak Trolley are easily stowed in the kayak cockpit: in my opinion the best place to store them: direct accessible when you need a trolley.

Even in the low volume Valley Pintail-kayak there is plenty of room in the kayak cockpit for the frame and the wheels of the Kayak Trolley. It only takes some minor preparation to create a few points in the cockpit to fasten these parts on a good reachable place. My kayak wasn't prepared yet. And the normally empty room in front of the footrest was completely filled with Bernhards’ Tent. That’s why I decided to use (for the last time) my old trolly (stowed away behind the hatches) during the tour around Borkum and Juist. And now you know why Freya cursed me: we did a lot of kayak-hiking and with the inferior Dutch trolley's we had to do many walks twice ;-( Thanks Freya, for lending your Trolley, and for the good time we had ;-) !!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy kayak pulling... the Kayak Trolley

Borkum, 10-12-'06: in front three happy users of Freya's Kayak Trolley, followed by a Dutchman with a trolley with small wheels.

Last week Wenley asked me about typical German kayaking-customs. This year I had the pleasure to paddle quit a lot with German seakayakers. Yet I still find it difficult to tell what’s typical about German seakayaking. The British BCU approach had a strong influence on German, as well on Dutch seakayaking. I do tend to think more in terms of similarities as in differences. Besides that, I don’t like to judge all Germans (nor all British or Dutch) alike! Said that, I find it fascinating to explore how national culture typical influences individual behaviour. Wenley referred to the German “Gründlichkeit”. Kayaking with Guus (Dutch) and my German friends last weekend I noticed two other aspects I would describe as rather “German”:
  1. the interest in exploring good gear and the willingness to pay for quality. Modern design kayaks, high-tech carbon fibre paddles, Goretex paddling suits are rather common. Most Dutch kayakers use far more basic gear…
  2. the lack of scruples in using a kayak trolley for long walks during a paddle tour...
I must admit I share this fascination for good gear (some German roots left in this Dutchman). So when Freya brought along a stock of new Kayak Trolleys with in her camper I couldn’t resist. Freya’s Kayak Trolley (design: Gerard Maroske and Jochen Vetterlein) is a wonderful piece of kit:
  • saltwater resistant V4a-Steel;
  • compact package of the frame;
  • "Open-the-bag-and-pop-up" – construction;
  • all in one piece, no loose parts;
  • integrated straps to secure the kayak;
  • big wheels good rolling even on sand.
“Ieder voordeel heb zijn nadeel” – “Every advantage brings along a disadvantage”: the big wheels of the trolley are really big... They require a lot of storage place. Because I carried the outer tent of Bernhards giant group shelter in my (rather low volume) Valley Pintail, I decided to use my own little kayak trolley last weekend (I want to store all the gear inside the kayak, and don’t like to carry wheels on the deck). After 15 km’s of kayak-pulling this weekend, I must admit I regretted this decision more than once, a bit because of the discomfort (it was hard pulling, with the little wheels) but even more because of the punishing comments of Freya ;-) She says what comes to her mind!

Here is a good advice: before paddling with Freya: order the Kayak Trolley!
(Serious, when you are looking for a good Kayak Trolley, take this, you will like it!)

the old trolley in front, Freya's Kayak Trolley behind

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Impression from a wintertour around Borkum and Juist

“Schön war es!” I enjoyed 4 days of paddling and winter-camping with a couple of nice people. The conditions were just like they are supposed to be on a winter-tour: rough, windy and chilly, but we picked out exactly the best days of the period. Saturday and Sunday we even got pampered with some hours of sunshine. Friday we paddled from Norddeich to Borkum. Saturday we circumnavigated Borkum and Sunday we passed by Juist from west to east at the sea-side and camped at the wad-side of Juist. Wind increased during the tour, and due to the fact it had been stormy all week before, there was quit some powerful surf at the sea-side of the isles and sandbanks. I capsized unintended in a big surfwave, not quit my favourite action in winter, but had no problem rolling up again. I was in good company as Guus and Freya made the same experience (off course this comparison is improper: no one rolls in style like Freya does! ;-)

Bernhard had taken along his giant Hilleberg-expedition base-camp-tent. This proved to be very practical. When it got dark and cold (early) in the evening, we didn’t have to draw back to our individual little shelters, but instead we could have a social evening with the complete group. We had a introduction to some good old German “Weihnachts”-traditions: Freya’s “Glühwein” and the “Feuerzangenbowle” of Nils and Tanja, accompanied by the Guitar-music of Bernhard. Compared to this Dutch winter-traditions are poor. Guus and I could only offer “Speculaas” and some “Sinterklaas”-stories. Spare our German-friends the terrible Dutch “Snert with spek”-tradition!

From Sunday to Monday it got very stormy. The big Hilleberg-tent was taken to the ultimate test, we had a restless night. Alas the tent didn’t outstand this test undamaged, the conditions proved to be to extreme for a tent of this size. The conditions were also to heavy to paddle back and we decided to put the boats on the kayak-trolley’s to take the ferry back to Nordsiel. No paddling on Monday, but 15 km walking and pulling kayaks over the dunes is also quit fatiguing! More about this kayak pulling-happening in the next post.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Winter weekend tour

Next Friday I am leaving with Guus for Norddeich-Germany, to meet Bernhard, Freya, Tanja and Nils for a winter-camping tour around the isles Borkum and Juist. Bernhard invited us for this wintertour. A great idea. But Winter? The climate is playing mad lately: temperatures of 13-16 degrees Celsius in early December. So don’t expect any white winterly pictures on this website next week. When you want to see snowy kayak-pictures, check the kayakblogs of Michael or Derrick. In Canada it’s now very cold and Wisconsin suffered extreme snowfall last week (US Deaths by cold were even a item on Dutch TV).
The Dutch weatherforecast for the next few days I heard at the radio was also bizarre: this evening a storm-warning for the coastal region, tomorrow first decreasing and later windy up to 8 Bft, Thursday evening decreasing wind again, followed by a Stromy night, and Friday decreasing winds to moderate winds in the weekend. Perhaps we are lucky and we timed exactly the calm period. Bernhard did some nice suggestions for the trip-planning this weekend, but at the end the weather conditions will determine the routes. That’s seakayaking. Living day by day.
I am looking forward for a nice weekend in good company!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Greenland kayaks in the Netherlands

picture of, used with permission of Tom Steenbergen

Perfectly timed at “Pakjesavond – 5th December” a air parcel post containing Harvey Goldens’ book “Kayaks of Greenland” arrived at Woerden. The word “book” is a understatement for this masterpiece covering 300 years of kayak-history. At the first glance of the book I noticed by coincidence the description of some kayaks out of the collections of the Dutch Ethnological Museums in Den Hague and Leiden (both museums have a impressive collection of Inuit art, worth a visit!). For those who understand Swedish: Björn Thomasson has written a more extensive review of Harveys’ book.

For the Dutch enthusiasts of Greenland Kayaks the site is interesting. Dick van Zanten and Tom Steenbergen are doing a good job in promoting traditional Greenland-style kayaking in the Netherlands. Lost month they added a new report to the site covering their experiences in building a new Greenland Kayak and a Baidarka. These qayaqs are built according traditional greenlandic design and techniques, but equipped with some modern elements like bulkheads and hatches. Tom and Dick created in this way promising crossovers between a qayaq and a seakayak. I am looking forward to meet the first greenland SKOF-kayak at a Dutch seakayak-trip!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Upcoming kayak-swimmingpool event

Yesterday Sinterklaas paid a visit to Woerden. As the kids grow older, the character of “Pakjesavond” is changing. The focus is shifting from the sheer size and number of the gifts to more creative elements like the originality of the presentation and the poems coming along with the “surprises”. Jelle and Lieke are inventing and creating these surprises more on their own. The Sinterklaas surprise for me was a miniature private kayak-swimming-pool (note the position of the kayaks: no. 1 is sculling, no. 2 is in upside down position preparing for a roll).

The kayak-swimming-pool-gift is very appropriate. Hans spent every spare minute last week organising a indoor swimming-pool. It’s not easy to arrange a swimming pool for more than a single hour during the weekend, and I was looking for a pool we can use a whole weekend for a kayak event! These are the moments you benefit good kayak-contacts in the region, and finally we found a perfect place, ideally located in the middle of the Netherlands (near Woerden). Thanks Herman! “Waar een wil is, is een weg” (= “where there is a will, there is a way”). The confirmation of the reservation by the manager of the swimming-pool last Friday is a superb Sinterklaas-surprise.

I am so anxious to tell you what we are up to do in this swimming-pool! Full information follows when the last details are definitive. It is a co production between the NKB-commissie Zeekajakvaren, and two highly regarded, in the international kayak-scene well-known, foreign kayak-instructors, and I don’t want to pass my colleague-organisers. But I can lift a corner of the veil: If you are interested in improving your rolling-technique, open for a new experience and want to know more about the roots of seakayaking -> reserve the weekend of 27 and 28 January in your calendar! It may sound immodest, but you haven’t seen anything like this in the Netherlands before!