Saturday, 25 July 2015

Coaching the Mind - Performance Psychology Theory into Practice

For the last couple of years I had been pondering running a Sports Performance Psychology course.  I had attended the British Canoe Union (BCU) Coaching the Mind course as part of a coach up date and had really enjoyed it.  But there was no time to really reflect and see how I could put the theories into practise.  Since them I have made time and had started thinking about providing a 2 day course.  one days theory and a 2nd days practical that would allow time for an individual to experiment with new ideas and see what actually worked while having the opportunity to gain further feedback and input from a couple of experienced coaches.

Lee Pooley I had worked with and I delivered a couple of BCU 5 star Leader training courses for and we had got on really well.  He was an active paddler and sounded like he also new the material well.  The initial thought began to grow.  Now to see if there is any interest?  Within two weeks I had sold the 8 places!

The content of the first day was a mix of short inputs, work groups, individual work and out door short sessions to highlight various points.  The aim was focused with the individual and In brief covered the following:

Reflect and develop upon understanding of performance and arousal
discuss application of control strategies such as attentional focus and imagery
Explore factors and influences of personal motivation and how an individual/coach/leader can influence the motivational climate
Investigate how personal though/non verbal can influence behaviour

At the end of the day, an action plan was created for the following day and a control strategy was chosen.

Day 2 was the application and with a F4/5 W, with wind against tide, Rhoscolyn was chosen.  Working in teams of 4, between Lee and myself and then regrouping at lunch to share the mornings progress and results.

It was really greta to hear and see so many smiling faces ... the song 'happy shinny people' by REM came to mind ... stuff was really working!!

As a couple of people said after the weekend ...

Opportunity to put things into practise and to try a bit of trial and error before your memory gets fuzzy will I’m sure mean that the weekend will be far more effective than a single day in the classroom.

Importance of goal setting and the need for this to be aligned to one’s intrinsic motivations.

The need to be positive, to control the controllables and to eliminate doubt as far as possible.

And ... I am very pleased with the way the course built on the paddling I had recently done with Coastal Spirit  to improve my confidence and performance.
And ...

Thank you both for a really excellent weekend which exceeded my expectations in every way.

I'm keen to run this weekend again as the 2nd day was a pilot and because of this it was aimed at Intermediate to Advanced paddlers.  Is there interest from IntroMdiate to InterMediate or another InterMediate to Advanced?  
Early Autumn would be the aim or late spring.  Let me know if your interested ...

Thanks, Roger

Friday, 24 July 2015

Plymouth to Mumbles - Tavi, Julie and Debs.

The following is a Bog form the girls on their current self supported adventure.  Thanks for sending it in  ;)

Plymouth to Mumbles

So our plan is to paddle from Plymouth back to Mumbles in Wales, hopefully ending with the crossing of the Bristol Channel from Ilfracombe to Mumbles Head. We're calling this one the 'Boot of Britain', given that the SW looks a little bit like a leg, well at least if you squint!

Day 1, 30km Downderry to Porthpean.
We started at Downderry at the lovely Inn on the Beach, as the firing range at Tregantle was firing all week. Wind F4-5+ with a sea state 4. Still managed some lovely calm stops at Looe Island and hiding behind Pencarrow Head. Last part of the day fighting onto a F5 ... hard work! Planned camp site worked fine, not a theme that's continued!

Day 2, 55km, Porthpean to Kennack Sands.

Day started early, paddling at 4.15am to get round Dodman Point with tide. Amazing phosphorescence, every drip was a ring and bow waves arrows of green. Dodman Point on slack as planned, then the crossing to Portscatho where egg and bacon buttys (photo below) tasted fantastic! On across the shipping lane at Falmouth then for the first time the wind was behind us down to Clynhalls Point. Camping spots proved tricky to find near Coverack... so our day was rather longer than planned and ended with a F4 headwind paddle from Black Head to Kennack Sands, a bit of an unwelcome addition! The day a distance PB for Julie.

Day 3. 31km (plus an extra 8km back tracking finding camping). Kennack Sands to Praa Sands.

A bit of a slow day as feeling effects of the previous day's distance. Round the Lizard at slack - a jumbled maze of rocks and broken water. The most southerly point of mainland Britain. Some stunning coast including abandoned tin mines. Wanted to camp around Cudden Point, but nothing possible, so we back tracked to a proper camp site at Praa Sands. 

Day 4. Showers and a washing machine, luxury for today... a lazy (windy) day in town.

Tomorrow afternoon looks possible for Land's End, which would put us on the north coast. Fingers crossed the weather window holds. But then the forecast suggests 2 days of storms. Frustrating, and just have to hope the 7-10ft surf does not materialise. That sounds just a bit, um, intimidating? 

Tavi Murray, Julie Jones and Debs Helsdon.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Bespoke sea kayaking - North Wales, Anglesey

Keith and John were back for another year and a few days Bespoke sea kayaking.  Normally late September/October was there time, but with the last couple of years wind and rain dominated.  July they hoped would provide sunshine and blue skies ....  Well Monday didn't and I had no camera!! so we spent the day in The Menai Straits going through low braced turns and stern rudders - inside and out side edge.  This was going to set us up for the next couple of days ...  

My photos have come out a little jumbled, but as you will see we got that sunny blue sky days  ... ;)

Last day at Rhoscolyn and looking down towards the Lleyn above, and some rock hoping, putting our turns into practise, below.

2nd day was the 10k one way paddle of the Stacks - we went against the Ebb, so only had South Stack to work with, which we went through at slackish water.  saying that the guys worked really well with a couple of active back eddies, flowing against a N f2/3 wind, gave a 1ft of swell and confused water ...

Looking back at South Stack light house above and some super rock scenery, around Elyn's tower.  the birds to were loving the sunny day ...

Landing for lunch below at Silver Bay on the 3rd and last day ...

It had been lovely that the sun had come out, and that the wind had allowed both Keith and John to paddle the Stacks.  A classic, stunning and committing trip.  One I'm sure will be remembered for a few years yet!!

Hi Roger

Just to say big thanks for your efforts with John and I. 
Superb time — tired today!
Very much appreciated.


Happy days  ....  Bespoke days are set at your pace, address your specific wants and needs, allowing you to achieve more and accelerate your learning.  August is now full for Bespoke days and September is begging to fill up.  Contact me now if you want more information or would like to arrange an informal chat.  Thanks, Roger.

Friday, 10 July 2015

5 Star Leader Training Sea - Sunny South Devon!

Its the 2nd 5 star leader training Ive now run in sunny summer conditions and Ive got to say its fantastic!!  

South Devon and working with Lee Pooley and with a forecast of F4/5 over the weekend and 1.5-2.1 mt swell running from the W/SW was always going to bring a smile to my face.  We headed for Salcombe and South Sands and Bo's cafe.  

After some discussions and comparisons of tidal plans we headed out ... tricky as it was just after 1200 and I'd been snacking so i needed to keep a close watch on the time so we could have a proper lunch!!  We had decided after last year to start at 1100, due to having to wait for darkness to arrive. 

Gully rescues with contact tows and towlines ... building up too

 .... rocky landings and surf launch swim back out ...

At Bolt Head and some super confused conditions  ....

Outside Bolt Head and a good wind and swell against tide ...  ;)

We did a couple of loops, and then came back in and discussed top tips and handy hints .... and assessing individuals before deciding to run down into the race ... which was significant!!

Back towards south sands The Bar was working really well ...

We did a few short navigation sections from 2030 onwards after a super warm dinner in the fading sun, up towards South Pool and as the darkness fell upon us, the nigh nav began!

The following day we headed back to this super venue.  Leadership sections with or without a scenario were worked through and as we came across a new venue between Lee and my self short work shops were delivered.

Landing an incapacitated a paddler in a raft and through some small surf - a rescue that needs good practice and in my opinion other options need to be explored before deciding on this scenario ...

After a short lunch, the surf was calling us back out and a few nice waves, were rolling in ...

Debriefs over ice cream (well at least for me any way) ... with another top group of guys, wrapped up another fab 5 star leader training. Note to self,  run more 5 star leader trainings in the summer  .. ;)

Thanks to Lee and Jo for putting me up - it was great to work with Lee again.


roger chandler

Explorer Expedition Sea Kayak

The Sea Kayak UK Explorer is a red/white with a fitted compass and Eazy-keel keel strip. It is in good condition, all hatches watertight and fully functional skeg. 
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Monday, 6 July 2015

Lundy Island Solo, by Tavi Murray

Lee Bay to Lundy Island and back, solo. 2nd July 2015. - 76km.  By Tavi Murray

The northern track is out, southern back, the trip home took  4 hours 9 minutes.

I’ve been wanting to do the Scilly Isles crossing for more than a year now, but the right weather window and tides have not coincided, at least not at a time when me and my friends were free. The ambition to paddle to the Scilly’s lead me and two friends to do an Open Water Navigation and Tidal Planning course with Roger last spring to ensure we had the skills to plan the trip. Since then I’ve also done 5* training, and the OWNTP course is a prerequisite for a 5* assessment. Somehow it seems wrong that those skills should be theoretical at assessment time, so planning and doing an open crossing went on my 5* action plan, providing an extra reason to want to do the trip.

Research on the internet lead me to an article Roger wrote about his own solo crossing to the Scilly’s (can be seen here)  ... I found it a really inspiring read and … hang on … he paddled it solo! Yeah, but that’s Roger, he’s a Level 5 coach, he’s had his 5* for years and he’s light-years beyond my kayaking abilities even in my wildest dreams. But just there a little seed of a dream was planted. Then sometime on our way round the Roof this spring, no idea how it came up, there we were having a conversation about the Scilly’s crossing and the possibility of me paddling it solo. And not only was Roger not laughing at the possibility, he seemed supportive of the idea …

So since we’ve come back I’ve been waiting for the weather and the tides to coincide for the Scilly’s crossing. But the weather has been really unsettled and the only window so far I was tied up at work. So that dream remains at the top of my “to do” list. However last week Thursday looked fairly settled in the forecast and it was spring tides. I’d bought the chart for Lundy, and I’d stuck that crossing on my list too, but I hadn’t looked at it any further. Tuesday evening I didn’t go surfing, I spread out the chart and got my protractor, ruler and tide tables and started planning. Yes, even though it’s an 80 km round trip it looked possible to do there and back in a single day and the tide times made sense.

Who else wanted to come? And there was the problem, everyone I knew was busy. Perhaps I could do this one solo? I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. The crossing has tideraces at each end and the Bristol Channel tides are fast flowing, in my experience even ferocious. Even though it’s shorter each way than the Scilly’s crossing it’s quite possibly a more committing trip. I was really apprehensive … not committing to a decision. But I also put my boat on my car, and got all my kit ready. Then on Wednesday morning I looked again at the forecast, and it seemed pretty perfect, W F1-2 and sunshine, with 1.1 m swell. How, I asked myself, was I pretending I was going to paddle to the Scilly’s solo if I couldn’t commit to this solo trip? I developed a new test for myself: I imagined trying to explain to a friend why we weren’t going to do the trip together. There was no explanation – I should go! So I booked a hostel in Ilfracombe for the night and emailed Roger to ask if he’d be my shore contact. The answer was a supportive yes.

Driving through north Devon I was dismayed to find it was foggy, with visibility down to a few 10s of metres in places. That was one thing Roger had driven home on the OWNTP course … don’t do crossings in fog! I went to find the put in a Lee Bay and suss out parking and then headed to the hostel. There I checked the forecast again. It was now W/NW F2-3, with occasional F4 and rain all morning, possibly thundery. I set my alarm for 5 am, as I wanted to be on the water at 7 am, but without conviction I’d actually be paddling in the morning.

The forecast hadn’t changed the next morning, and although it wasn’t the perfect conditions I’d planned on I thought it was ok, head wind out, following wind back. I headed for Lee Bay listening to my car radio warning of violent thunder storms … On arrival there was low cloud wafting through the valley and visibility seemed poor. OK I thought, best not. I looked at my map and decided to head for Woolacombe to look at conditions, I texted Roger and said it was no go. I thought I’d do a short coastal trip or have a surf before heading home. Driving up the hill towards Woolacombe I thought about how I was feeling. Was I secretly relieved at calling it off? No, my only feeling was deep disappointment.
What! There’s Lundy! From the top of the hill looking over Morte Bay the island was clearly visible and conditions looked a lot better. Arrrrgh! Was there still time to go? Rapid thought and I decided so long as I could be on the water at 7.45 am I was happy my navigation would still be good. Hey, I could paddle fast too and make up some time. I texted Roger again (poor man!).

I was on the water by 7.30 am and phoned Roger and Swansea coastguard just before Bull Point. I was finally on my way! The tide race between Bull Point and Morte Point was a bit bumpier than I’d expected, it was wind and swell against tide and my bow bounced over the breaking waves. Out of the tiderace, things settled down a bit, but the 1 m swell meant Lundy kept vanishing. It’s really hard trying to keep on a compass bearing in these conditions! I used the clouds to steer by, but the wind moved these rapidly meaning I had to stay alert. Birds soared over the waves checking me out as I paddled. I stopped every hour for a few minutes and for a food and drink break. After a couple of hours the rain started!

It was clear I was heading further north than I needed to, but I was unsure when to let my angle off. I’ve experienced Bristol Channel tides round Flatholm and Steepholm, and they require real caution. I compromised, I’d aim to end up at the north end of the island which would give me a trip down the east coast and 4 km of safety as the Landing Beach is at the south of the island.

Arriving at the lighthouse at the north of the island gave me a few minutes of hard work as there was a north going current there I still don’t understand. But once on the east coast, the rain stopped temporarily and I paddled slowly along, surrounded by singing and playful seals. There really are hundreds! Lundy seems honeycombed by caves and I really look forward to heading back for a proper exploration.

Lunch in the rain on the Landing Beach was pretty miserable. I’d worn my drysuit and my thin top underneath was soaking from sweat. I changed it and put on a woolly hat. From being too hot whilst paddling I was now pretty cold. And it was raining heavily. My flask of ginger tea was really welcome.
When my boat was in danger of floating again, it was clear the tide had turned. Time to go! But there was no sign of England … I headed off on my compass bearing. Conditions cleared from the west and after 90 minutes land appeared in front, exactly where I expected it. The trip home took 4 hours and 9 minutes (my nav was for 4 hours 20 minutes so that’s pretty spot on!). Two thirds of the way over a porpoise arched up and stayed a few minutes.

Shipping isn’t really a problem on this crossing, but this sinister vessel was moving very fast!
Landing at Lee Bay was interesting – surf onto concrete and no beach visible in a place where I could access either slip from. I went in rather cautiously with my spray deck off, paddling backwards and I carried my now seaweed-festooned boat out of the surf as quickly as I could. I headed back to Ilfracombe with an enormous smile, for a much needed shower, and then pizza and a beer.

It was an amazing, awesome day and the trip felt like a real achievement. I really loved it and I am so glad I paddled solo. I felt completely at one with the environment and I have deep memories of many sounds and sights. Lots of firsts for me too: first real tidal open crossing; first real test of my navigation skills; first offshore solo paddle. I learnt an enormous amount both about crossings and myself. So a really big thanks to Roger for being my shore contact for the trip and for his support for my paddling aspirations – I’ve still got that big smile! Here’s hoping the weather window for the Scilly’s appears soon!

By Tavi Murray

Thanks for the Blog Tavi and a HUGE well done.  I'm really very chuffed for you .... Roger