This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending a ‘Greenland Intensive’ course – two days of first class coaching from world renown Greenland experts Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson.
The course was booked and organised by Steve and Jackie from NFKCC, who had already attended a course with Kayak Ways and were keen for more. They did an excellent job of sorting out all the details and assembling a keen bunch of paddlers for Cheri and Turner to coach.
The venue for the weekend was Lymington where we made use of the grassy recreation ground for dry land exercises, the stretch of Lymington River between the Yacht Club and Bridge Road for stroke work and then the Saltwater Baths for the rolling tuition.
Both days followed a similar pattern. Introductions to the day were made during yoga inspired stretching (both Cheri and Turner are Yoga Instructors). This led onto a detailed look at the various designs, features and characteristics of Greenland Paddles. From here we moved onto the water, first standing in the water experimenting with Greenland Paddles then into sea kayaks for a long session of stroke work. After lunch it was straight into the Saltwater Baths. After a series of poolside exercises, we were treated to an amazing display of rolls by Cheri and then 3 hours of rolling tuition.
Each day, 8 students attended. A few of us booked onto both days, whilst others just for the single day. On the second day Cheri and Turner split the stroke session into two groups to allow returning students to experiment with further strokes and skills.
The coaching was first class. Cheri demonstrated effortless grace that was quite simply jaw-dropping. Little wonder she won a significant number of Gold medals at the Greenland World Championships in the Mid 2000’s. Turner, with his trademark white beard and sparkling blue eyes brought an enthusiasm and mischevious sense of humour that proved irresistible. As a coaching team they were thoroughly engaging and their relaxed and friendly style was hugely appreciated by all who attended. They seem so in tune with each other, often completing sentences started by the other without it breaking the rhythm or flow of the session.
Considering their semi-nomadic existence, they managed to bring a perfect array of goodies for the group to play with. A great range of wooden and carbon fibre greenland paddles, Reed Tuiliqs with nose clips attached, Norsaq’s and plenty of Avataq’s (inflatable rolling aids derived from Greenland Harpoon floats).
They were keen for everyone to try everything and very generous with their personal kit, even the incredibly pricey but ‘sexy’ 3 piece carbon Razor Paddle from Novorca – designed by Turner himself.
For me personally, the highlights were the sessions on stroke work. On the first day I started to correct some of the bad habits in my forward paddling (developed from being self-taught). On the second morning this clicked into place and I had a fantastic time playing with various turning and sculling/bracing strokes wonderfully led by Turner. Cheri and Turner talk about how the Greenland Paddle likes to communicate with you. They are so right. As you become more tuned into the paddle you pick up its signs and signals that your strokes are going well – or not! There is so much still to learn and improve but I left with a huge set of drills and challenges (homework as Cheri refers to them) to go away and practice.
The rolling was equally fun and it was great to see all students learn, develop and improve on their personal goals. We worked in pairs for much of the time with Cheri and Turner moving between pairs coaching, cajoling and empowering us to make steady improvements. Their ability to spot mistakes instantly and provide simple and direct corrections was most welcome and impressive to observe. The weather on each day deteriorated quite significantly in the afternoons with wind and rain closing in but this did not dampen spirits and Cheri and Turner remained standing in the water willing to coach until the last student waved the white flag – minds willing them to keep going but bodies throwing in the towel!
I left with a burning desire for more and a pleasant burning pain in my muscles from the exertion of the weekend. I have lots of ideas for progressing further, not least the need to rediscover the lost flexibility from my youth – yoga anyone?
Should you have any interest in experiencing Greenland Paddling and/or have the chance to attend any of Cherri and Turners clinics I would heartily recommend it as I am sure would all the other attendees. Take a look at more of the photos from the weekend and keep an eye out for a review and interview with Cheri and Turner in a future issue of Ocean Paddler Magazine. A superb weekend, spent with superb paddling friends and two of the most encouraging, experienced, and yet self-effacing coaches you could wish to meet.
www.kayakways.net – Kayak Ways Website
Greenland Intensive Gallery – A selection of photos from the Greenland Intensive course I attended.
Sea Kayak Podcasts – Simon Willis’s interviews both Turner and Cherri in his excellent podcasts.