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Brian McCormack

Sea Kayaking Difficulties Levels Diagram - Where is it from?

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I was explaining to someone about Sea kayaking Difficulty levels and sent them the following diagram. Of course, i am not sure where I discovered the diagram.  Does anyone know where the diagram was developed.  Is there an standard level definition?  I looked on the websites of the usual suspects but I didn't find one.  

sea kayak difficulties.jpg

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We have a similar chart up front at https://www.nspn.org/trip-levels/

Keep in mind that just one parameter has to be met to push a trip up to a given level, not an average or all parameters. 

Given the units used (wind in mph rather than Beaufort scale, for example) the chart seems to be of US origin, not UK. 

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9 hours ago, Brian McCormack said:

 Is there an standard level definition?

There is no one standard "Level Definition", however standards have developed across the industry over time.  American Canoe Association and British Canoeing have had the most influence by developing a set of progressive programs based on both skill and conditions.  Most everyone has either copied or averaged the two sets of criteria to come up with a list of level definitions, including NSPN.

I agree with Mike that this is a US chart, not UK.  What I find most intriguing about it is the Pace is in MPH, not knots.  Not a true giveaway as to where it came from, but definitely a clue.

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Wow, pace > 4mph makes it a L4 trip?  That's basically every surfski paddling session regardless of conditions -- you'll go faster than 5mph even just paddling lightly on a calm day.

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16 minutes ago, mattdrayer said:

Wow, pace > 4mph makes it a L4 trip?  That's basically every surfski paddling session regardless of conditions -- you'll go faster than 5mph even just paddling lightly on a calm day.

Just being able to stay upright in a surfski regardless of speed or conditions probably qualifies as L4 🤣🤣🤣.

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13 hours ago, prudenceb said:

 

Somebody got mph and knots backwards.

Edited by josko

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Thanks for all the responses, especially about how just one parameter can push the trip up a notch.  

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42 minutes ago, Brian McCormack said:

Thanks for all the responses, especially about how just one parameter can push the trip up a notch.  

I would like to stress that all too often paddlers try to pigeonhole their skills into one of these levels, but that doesn't really work.  Because paddlers tend to continually improve different skills over time, they may not necessarily line up with the chart.  If someone has done a lot of lake and river paddling to a point where they can easily paddle more than 6 miles, maintaining a 3-knot speed in winds of 10 knots or more, doesn't automatically make them a Level 2 paddler because they haven't experienced waves over 1'.  That just means they need to approach a Level 3 trip with honest caution about their abilities and make sure the organizer and group are comfortable with them being on the trip.  After all, the only way we really learn and improve is to push beyond our current experience levels.

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