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Rough Water Symposium or, "The Tybee Triangle on Steroids"

Deb Millar

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The water in Rhode Island is warm.

The rocks aren't quite as barnacled.

The surf is formed.

While any of the above were reasons enough for us to travel to Camp Fuller in RI for the Rough Water Symposium Labor Day Weekend, there were a few other factors, mainly great coaches and getting to spend three days in a kayak.

And we weren't disappointed.

The RWS was an incredible place to both sharpen skills and to learn how to handle the body, the boat and the blade in rocks, surf and big chop 'n slop. While the accomodations were not exactly the Hilton -- it is a YMCA Kids' Camp after all -- the venues for the classes were first class and, despite some whining from the Bigger Dogs and Cowboys amongst us, did not disappoint.

Rocks. Surf (which did vary, but what do you want? Tom Bergh doesn't control the wind and weather). The east end of Fisher's Island for those of us who want to learn tidal tricks and the west end for those of us who have both the skill and stamina to paddle 5 miles to a big honking Race which, on an especially Big Tide/Big Wind/Big Current day can rival Wales on a "small" day. Cheri Perry and Turner giving a yoga class after paddling the first day and then doing a water ballet in SOFs the next. First rate coaches from the UK, with Dale Williams traveling into our cooler waters from Georgia. The satisfaction of rolling and doing a rescue in the Middle Ground (Wiccopesset. It also had another name involving dropping the e between the p and the ss's :rolleyes: ) not to mention the thrill of paddling and surfing in some BIG chop 'n slop. Old friends showing up. Making new friends. Crawling into your tent -- and I recommend bringing a tent -- at night and sleeping the sleep of the just, then waking up the next morning for more fun on the water.

True, we've been drinking the Kool-Aid of the BCU for 6 years now and will continue to drink it by the pitcher full, but this Symposium was definitely NOT a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the British Canoe Union and the Chapel of St. Nigel. Instead, it was what paddling should be: Fun. Learning about your boat and yourself. Stretching the body into a whole new suit of skills and experiences. Being with others who share the love of being at sea while paddling one's own 16'+ bit of fiberglass, kevlar or plastic.

Yes, there were moments of disorganization. Yes, the surf (or the coach) wasn't as big as people wanted, nor the time spent out in the Race(s) long enough for some. There was the usual whining when things didn't quite meet up with expectations. However, the point of going to a Symposium is to be with other paddlers and to learn. It's about being in your kayak and not in the office. While the very sound of Rocks! The Race! Ocean surf off Newport!!, not to mention the smaller of the tidal races that resembled the Triangle off Tybee on steroids(if you've been to the Symposium at SKG or paddled there, you'll know what I mean.), might cause the knees to knock and the stomach to churn, this was the place to learn to be a better paddler, to gain confidence, to work on those skills that sometimes only a professional coach can help with and refine, to increase one's comfort level and knowledge of rough water paddling.

After all, isn't that what kayaking should be about?

Deb M

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Deb, what a great writeup.

It was a great new location to paddle, the sky what blue the sun was smiling on us and it was a ton of fun. It was great to paddle with our friends and make new friends. I know I look forward to next year.

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