Saturday, September 27, 2008

Early Saturday-morning: KVDRV Canoe Polo Training

While most people in the Green Hart of Holland were still asleep: 8 fanatic kayakers got up early for the weekly Canoe Polo Training of Kayakclub de Ronde Venen.
It was not a real coincidence that I met this group during today's early morning-bike-trip*. It's nice that with the modern cell-phones you always have got a camera with you. Alas the performance of this camera is a bit limited. It's difficult to capture the amazing atmosphere of the moment. The build-in camera lacks the crisp sharpness of a serious camera.
So in words: it was a very beautiful late summer-early autumn-morning: quit, calm, fresh and humid. The best morning of the year... I love September!

(* Later this morning I assisted the KVDRV with the NKB-assessments for young kayakers.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kajakfestival 2008

A picture report of a visit at the first edition of the Dutch Kajakfestival: this weekend at the DWD-track in Zoetermeer. All National Championships of the different white-water-disciplines were held, combined with the festivities around the 75th Birthday of Dutch Kayak Association NKB and a lot of side events. I had two good days in Zoetermeer - yesterday with Oscar, Freya and the NKB-officials, today with my kids Jelle and Lieke.

Jelle practicing low-brace-recovery in the kayak-simulator of

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!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Solo - a portrait of Andrew McAuley

Surfing the web yesterday I discovered the announcement (on National Geographic) of the documentary "Solo - Lost at sea"; about Andrew McAuleys' tragically ended crossing of the Tasman Sea last year..

NG-website: "On January 11, 2007, Andrew McAuley set out on his quest to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand across one of the wildest and loneliest stretches of ocean on Earth. On February 9, New Zealand maritime authorities received his distress call. Having survived a harrowing and torturous month at sea, conquering monstrous swells and terrifying storms, McAuley lost his life only a day from completing his journey. His body was never recovered, but the camera tapes from his kayak were. They form the basis of this moving and questioning portrait of a complex man, his family, his supporters and his attempt to conquer the ferocious Tasman Sea."

I missed the première last Monday. A pity but programs on National Geographic TV are continuously repeated. NG TV schedules are rather inscrutable: according to the website next airing is on Sunday, October 12th. However National NG-TV-Schedules may be different? Until then: watch the trailer -breathtaking, shivering...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vlieland picture-album

Picture by Lorea Cortada Azcarata

Merel created a webspot for the participants of the Vlielandweek to conveniently up- and download pictures of the sea kayak week. This Vlieland-webspot can be opened here. At this moment 6 albums (from Merel, Hans, Michel, Lies, and Peter) are online. More to come!

Smiles for Moldova -Jörgen has made it!

Jörgen has reached his goal: he paddled 4000 km across the heart of Europe, through 11 different countries. It wasn't always easy, sometimes really tough, but Jörgen has made it. Read about his adventures at .

Next Saturday is the welcome home party for Jörgen at the Groninger Kayakclub, Hoornsedijk 4, Haren. The festivities start at 11.00 am.
More information at

Congratulations to Jörgen!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Surf-session with KV Wyrda - Epic Surf Ski Kayaks

Only just returned from Vlieland late Saturday-evening, Sunday another kayaking-day was up: the Surf day of kayakclub Wyrda. Five young kayakers from Woerden had signed in for the surf-clinic with Vloed Kanosport in Hoek van Holland. With an easterly wind of 4-5 Bft I was afraid that there would be hardly any waves. But the conditions were surprisingly well: 2 or 3 hours before high tide a nice surf came up with waves up to 2 feet high, creating perfect conditions for this beginners-session. Especially Jelle and Daniel couldn't get enough and after a lot of wet-exits at the beginning, they really got the hang of it. I enjoyed watching my son having fun, getting some really great surf-rides. Proud daddy!

Though I had taken the Anas Acuta with me (the kayak was still on the car from Vlieland), I spent most of my time on the beach: helping the kids to empty their kayaks, making pictures and chatting with kayak-friends. Hoek van Holland is becoming a meeting place for paddlers in the Western part of Holland. It was a "gezellige" day. ("gezellig" is one of those Dutch words that can't be properly translated. "Gemütlich" (German)/"cosy" (English)/ "confortable" (French) come close but just miss the essence of the typical Dutch "gezelligheid"). Anyway, I enjoyed that Piet (one of the aspirant seakayak-coaches) came by for a chat.

Paul and Peter from were at the beach with two brandnew Epic Surf Ski Kayaks: the V10 and the V10 Sport. It was their first time to paddle at sea with the V10 (the racing version of the V10 sport). The V10 is only a few centimeters slimmer than the V10 sport (45 cm instead of 48 cm width) - but it makes a lot of difference in stability.

Surf Ski Kayaks are rare in the Netherlands - actually I only knew Surf Skis from pictures, so I liked this occasion to try one out. The V10 sport is surprising stable and yet feels very fast and responsive. Because I was looking after the kids I hadn't quit the rest for an extensive paddle, but the first strokes taste like more!

Picture-album of the Surf-Session: click here

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - Floating away...

Picture by Gerard Tel: time for a nap after the Zeevaardighedi- and A-Schein-tests (=Dutch and German Seakayak Proficiency Tests) on Friday afternoon...

With the final tests done - time to relax and to look back at a great week at Vlieland. Thanks to all coaches, instructors, speakers, the kitchen crew, all participants, our Dutch, Spanish, German and Belgian guests!
I am Looking forward to see what Vlieland 2009 brings!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - Rough water rescue

Picture by Patrick Dousi
Just another picture of yesterday - the sea was perfect: a fierce 5-6 Bft SW created a perfect swell in "het Zeegat van Terschelling" and good surf at Engelschhoek. Planned was to exercise controlled landings in the surf zone. And all did, but some groups had a little extra bonus: on the way from Vlieland some paddlers capsized before reaching the surf zone - creating a welcome occasion to practice rough water rescues.

Vlieland 2008 - The written exam

No picture of the day this time, but a picture of my trusty Anas Acuta seakayak- yesterday: resting on the sand Engelschhoek. While most instructors were on the beach doing the NKB-Kayak Safety Test with their groups, I spent the whole day at the campsite - a big part of the time behind the laptop preparing the theoretical (written) part of the sea-proficiency (NKB Zeevaardigheid, Salzwasserunion A-Schein) test tomorrow. I am curious what the candidates make of it tomorrow. Sien prepared a collection of questions that gave me inspiration for an exam covering a wide range of the NKB curriculum written down to the local details of the Wadden region around Vlieland. It was fun to make, let's hope the candidates appreciate it tomorrow. Success!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - The mystery track

picture of the day 4 - the mystery track.

On the sand of Engelshoek we spotted a curious imprint. Some unknown marine mammal left the sand before we arrived. A more detailed view shows strange imprints every 30-40 cm on both sides of a longitudinal track of over 50 meters.

Quite sure it was a Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig").

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - Heel-hook

Picture of the day 3 - by Axel Schoevers
In the morning one of the participants did a part of the assessment for NKB-sea kayak coach: " PvB 3.1. - het geven van een les" . A group of intermediate sea kayakpaddlers was introduced to the so called heel-hook- (or foot-hook) rescue.
The heel-hook is a method of re-entering the kayak where the swimmer pulls himself up the rear deck of his kayak by using his leg muscles. In order to do so, the swimmer hooks his heel (or foot) inside the cockpit right under the front deck (or under the thigh braces of a keyhole cockpit). In Dutch seakayak-courses mostly the X-rescue with a re-entry between the kayaks of the rescuer and the swimmer is practized. Advantage of the heel-hook re-entry is that it requires less upper body strength and flexibility.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - Surf

Picture of the day 2- Natasha and Marc

On this second day the Vlieland-week was blessed with a fierce Westerly wind blowing 6-7 Bft - Ideal for sweet surfing conditions. The advanced paddlers didn't make it around the sand of the Richel - again it was the second attempt - instead all had a good day in the breaking waves along the beaches of Vlieland.

I had a fine day too: on the water again! Because one of the coaches wasn't feeling well today, I replaced him and enjoyed coaching a mixed group of German and Dutch paddlers together with Piet. The international contacts Dutch-Spanish-German-Belgian make the day!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Vlieland 2008 - Puppy seals

picture of the day 1- by Patrick Dousy

Introduction of new seakayakers to the sea - the full experience - feeling, tasting, touching white sand and salty water....

Vlieland - the first launch

Just an hour ago all groups launched from the beach of Vlieland - At this moment 7 groups, total 65 paddlers are on the water. Today I stay at the campsite to arrange some minor logistical issues. Weather is clouded, but dry. Wind is blowing 5 Bft from South. Our Spanish guests were impressed by the height of the dunes (all kayaks had to be carried from the campsite to the beach over a 15 meters high dune...) and are slowly getting used to find sand in all their gear...

Lorea launching...

Marifoonbericht - opgesteld: zondag 7 september 2008 11.39 uur
Waarschuwing voor de scheepvaart:
Vlissingen Zierikzee Hoek van Holland IJmuiden Texel Rottum Delfzijl Harlingen IJsselmeer Marken, zuidwest 6
Verwachting van 14:00 tot 02:00 uur:
Zierikzee Harlingen IJsselmeer Marken, zuid 4-5, eerst af en toe 6, spoedig ruimend zuidwest,buien, mogelijk met onweer,zicht goed, in neerslag matig

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Live from Vlieland

Thanks to my latest digital gadget I now have a connection from the remote Dutch isle of Vlieland to the World Wide Web. Which is very handy for regular weather updates, and also offers a unique occasion for live updates from the happenings on the NKB Vlieland sea kayak week.

Today wind was blowing from S-SW 5-6 Bft. Gales were predicted up to 7 Bft. In combination with the tide running late, we decided to make the crossing to Vlieland (35 km's) with the complete group by ferry - a quit relaxed start of the week. Looking down from the ferry at the water the waves looked very tempting, perfect conditions for a fast surfing ride to the isle... Thinking of the 65 kayaks on board of the ferry, I suppose it was a wise decision we made.

Atcampsite Stortemelk tents were pitched up. The ZVE (advaced sea proficiency) group of Joris prepared todays' evening meal under supervision of chief-cook Michel.

Evening menu: "rote Beete" soup with creme freche, Confit de Canard with roasted potatoes and rosemary and green asparagus, cucumber-salad with dill. (For the vegetarians a timbal from aubergines with goat-cheese piled up with basil). Dessert: Mango-sorbet with fresh blackberries and blackberries. A culinary traction for an international party on the tables Dutch, Spanish, German, French and Catalonian languages were spoken...
And tomorrow: time for paddling...

Friday, September 05, 2008

NKB Vlieland Seakayak Week 2008

A message for the participants of the Vlieland Seakayak Symposium - starting tomorrow:

Mededeling voor de deelnemers aan zeekamp Vlieland die morgen de oversteek Harlingen-Vlieland per kajak willen maken:

Beste deelnemers,

Het marifoonbericht, opgesteld vrijdag 5 september 2008 17.27 uur:

Verwachting voor zaterdag 6 september 8.00 tot 20.00 uur:

IJmuiden Texel Rottum
zuid 5-6 ruimend zuid tot zuidwest, toenemend 6-7,kans op een bui, mogelijk met onweer,zicht goed, in neerslag matig

Op basis van de verwachtingen heb ik in overleg met Joris besloten de oversteek per kajak van Harlingen naar Vlieland morgen in principe af te blazen. Alle weersvoorspellingen geven een vergelijkbaar beeld. Voor deelnemers in bezit van het certificaat ZVE maken we nog even een voorbehoud/uitzondering. Zij kunnen zich morgenochtend om 12.00 uur melden bij de Willemshaven. Ter plaatse en op basis van het op dat moment actuele weerbericht kan dan eventueel alsnog worden besloten met een kleine groep ZVE-ers de oversteek per kajak te maken. De kans dat dit gebeurt acht ik echter niet groot.
De veerboot vertrekt om 14.15. Reken op ruim 1,5 uur voor inpakken, inchecken, auto parkeren.
NB: de organisatie van de Vlielandweek beslist of er wel of niet per kajak wordt overgestoken.

Het is jammer voor morgen, maar we hebben daarna nog een hele week om te kajakken. Vanaf maandag neemt de wind af, komt de zon terug en stijgt de temperatuur!

Tot morgen!
Met vriendelijke groet,

When there is an occasion for it (internet-access?), I'll try to update this blog during the Seakayakweek, and maybe Axel does, see his kayakblog - Otherwise: see you next week again!
An impression of last years' edition of Zeekamp Vlieland: in the weblogarchive - september last year.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

19-21 september: It's party time! NKB 75 years

The Nederlandse Kano Bond exists 75 years in 2008. There is a party at the site of Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer on September, the 20th. Besides a reception and a party there will be a lot of kayak-activities going on. The Dutch White-Water Championships also take place in this weekend. There are to many activities to list here - check it out on the NKB75-website. Just some highlights for seakayakers: Freya comes for a demo and rolling classes, Nico is present with the kayaks of Seakayaking UK and gives a clinic, Peter shows the SKIM-range. This happening is sure worth a visit, I would love to meet you at the weekend!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The discussion on kayak-cockpit-design continues...

Keyhole-cockpit of the Valley Qajariaq compared to the ocean-cockpit of the Valley Anas Acuta seakayak.

Last weekend Paul asked me for advise about choosing a new seakayak. High upon his wish-list was a roomy cockpit to get in and out comfortably. This reminded me of a discussion I had with René lately about some of my recent statements on kayak-cockpit-design in this weblog. I think it's a pity to have René's opinion hidden deep in the comment-section. So I quote some parts of our discussion:

René said…
....In my testreports I often ask for smaller cockpits and more perimeterlines (behind) the cockpit; but I am afraid the builders/designers listen first to "signals" from the paddlers asking for easy entrance in the cockpit.
Probably this has something to do with the way the modern, average seapaddler (worldwide) is paddling, avoiding the rough stuff. Probably the modern paddlers have problems with small cockpits because they are also less flexible, less trained and heavier. ;-)
Reading the Norwegian magazine "paddling" this weekend it struck me that they had a good article on surfing and tailorfitting the cockpit of a seakayak for surf conditions. The tailorfitting itself was perfect, just identically to what I am advising about this subject.
The only thing is: why only tailorfitting a kayak for surf?? The better handling with such an improved kayak gives so much more confidence and safety, that the "inconvenience(?)" of a smaller cockpit looks only like a very small price to me.

Hans said…
....About the kayak-cockpits: I love the small ocean-cockpits on my Pintail and Anas Acuta. Of course that's because I like the rough stuff and I am "very flexible, well trained and not heavy" ;-) Nevertheless there are also some kayaks on the market with excellent modern style roomy cockpits that offer perfect control - which have their advantages (in my opinion) also on safety - not only for the "less flexible, less trained and heavier paddlers" ;-).

René said…
...About the cockpits: you are right of course that there are big cockpits with excellent knee-grip. Still I regard the smaller, ocean cockpits as more reliable and practical because:
- Minimal risk for imploding sprayskirts. Of course there are very tight fitting skirts for big cockpits but these require quite a lot of force to close them which is unhandy when you are tired or want to close quickly
- Better view on maps on your cart-table.
- Less risk of dislocating your knees form there position under deck in heavy dumping waves or with laybacks.
- A small cockpit is easier for tailorfitting than a bigger cockpit: important when the fit is not perfect for yourself.
- More perimeter lines along the kayak. For a rescuer it’s easier to grip a rope instead of a slippery cockpit-rim during a x-rescue.
Of course the big cockpits offer much comfort (for instance entering under difficult conditions), but this still does not appeal to me comparing with the safe feeling an ocean cockpit gives to me. I guess that I have seen and experienced too much of the heavy stuff in my kayaking career, for just to trust a big cockpit.
I am serious saying that whenever I need to buy a kayak that has a big cockpit because it’s not available with an ocean cockpit, I am going to close the forward part, rebuilding the big cockpit to an ocean cockpit.
Of course this is a very personal point-of-view.

René gives some solid arguments for the ocean cockpit. I want to add once more, in defence of the keyhole cockpit: a smartly designed keyhole cockpit with good places tigh grips can offer perfect boat control - and there are conditions when an easy and fast access or exit is a safety issue. I have no hesitations in advising someone to go for the keyhole. I even dare to say that most seakayakers are probably better of with a keyhole-cockpit! Especially for the large group of new seakayakers a far way over 50 years old - and I know it's risky to say this, but - you probably buy a new kayak to use it for a long time, perhaps 10 years or more ? - the chance you get more flexible isn't very big...

Personally to this "propagandist of the keyhole-cockpit" ;-) : the latest two seakayaks I bought are outfitted with an ocean-style cockpit... Which was a deliberate decision that I don't regret!

PS: add it to the list of important arguments: a small cockpit looks so sexy on a sleek long kayak!

Lifting the knees: try it with an ocean cockpit!

Taking a nap in a keyhole - cockpit: forget it with the ocean cockpit?

Ok: with some flexibility you can do the same in an ocean-cockpit.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The first salt water experience - part 2

This Sunday the second part of the "Grootwatertocht" from Kayakclub Wyrda took place. Due to some changes in participants, for most it wasn't actually the first trip on salt water but more a kind of a renewed acquaintance. For Jelle however, it was the first time to paddle out at the North Sea.
The day couldn't be more perfect. Sunny, air temperature 25 degrees Celsius, water temperature 19 degrees Celsius, Wind 2-3 Bft. SE. The sea offered highlight after highlight.

1. A close encounter with a curious seal. (Click on the picture for a closer look at the seal behind Jelle's kayak.

2. Mediterranean conditions during the break on a slowly under the rising water disappearing sand some km's before the coastline of Schouwen.

3. Some nice waves to play in. The perfect size to get the feeling for balancing and bracing.

4. And finally the feeling of gliding over a mirror, lost in space.
Wyrda grootwater08 deel 2
Click on the miniature for more pictures.

Paddled distance: 22 kms. Planning this trip I anticipated on the new rules for the Voordelta and avoided paddling in the parts of the Voordelta that will be closed in the future. We didn't land on the sand of the "Aardappelenbult" but on a sand near the "Schaar van Renesse" close to the isle of Schouwen. There were no seals or larger groups of birds resting on this sand.