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Thrills & Spills amongst the Surf & Rocks

July 28, 2011

So its been 2 weeks since I began my new career at Interactive Intelligence. Its been a crazy 2 weeks of early starts and late finishes, but I am fired up with enthusiasm – and you know how single minded I can get when that happens !!

The impact on paddling of course, is that I can only get out on weekends at the moment. I’m concerned that this reduction in the amount of paddle-time is going to adversely affect my preparation for the Hawkesbury Classic (HCC). Last Saturday I managed to squeeze in a 20km paddle on Saturday morning, and the following day a leisurely afternoon paddle at Berowra Waters with a few members of Team Fat Paddler.

7-29-2011 7-58-38 AM

That Saturday night – after the 20km, my body ached like crazy. It had been over a week since I put in a hard long paddle and I really felt it. While I was down the South Coast I put in a lot of paddle time – but not the proper training effort. The difference with the training paddles is that you don’t stop to take photos, or to stretch out whenever the mood hits you – but rather you paddle hard and consistently against the clock as you target a set distance. I realise I need to incorporate more of this….

Berowra Waters was more leisure time but I just love the social aspect of paddling – especially in gorgeous bushy surroundings – so when The Fat Paddler (Sean) put out the word that we would set out for an afternoon paddle – I jumped on it !!


Could be a scene from a blockbuster movie !!


These guys never once broke formation *grin*


One of my favourite photos...

The week flew by quick and I had every intention of getting out on the water on Saturday to knock out another 20km or so…. but it never eventuated. My wife Eileen promised our daughter Isabella a girls day out on Saturday and it was the perfect opportunity for me and Tristan to spend some quality time together. He wanted to watch the movie Cars 2 and so I forsake the paddling to indulge little Master 4.5 years old – in a day of shopping for toys, eating his favourite junk food and watching a movie !!


Good effort given he hates having his photo taken !!

Sunday morning was the regular meeting of Team Fat Paddler at SHK @ The Spit Bridge to go and play amongst the remaining waves from Sydney’s week long downpour. I packed my wetsuit because it was FREEZING and my helmet because I knew Sean couldn’t keep away from the rocks. We stood on the beach at Sydney Harbor Kayaks and looked out towards Grotto Point – the waves looked huge as they smashed against the rocks at the base of that cliff.

Off we took and after about 5 minutes we were riding over swell that normally doesn’t reach this deep into the harbor. As we got to Grotto Point – I was reveling in the motion of the ocean. There were only 3 of us – Capt Sean, Nat and me.


Nat likes his boats lean and fast...

I really do love paddling in the lumpy stuff and I recently figured out why.

When I started paddling a few years ago – I was really nervous about staying upright – even on flat water. I’ve never seemed to have good balance –  in fact, I always felt a little uncoordinated. It wasn’t a physical handicap – I think just a confidence thing. You know – like a fear of heights…. If I didn’t know that I was standing on a ledge high above then I would have no fear of falling. As soon as I see the drop – I panic, freeze, hyperventilate and experience vertigo to the point where my balance is shot to hell. I think it was the same with paddling. I distinctly remember looking at a series of videos I bought 2 years ago “This is The Sea” – a 4 part series on Kayaking around the world – and I was adamant that I would NEVER paddle in the ocean, or white-water, or surf a wave etc… They looked impossible for a chubby 40 year old with poor balance to begin doing. I remember those thoughts as clearly as if I thought them yesterday.

And yet here I am…..???



So what changed??? I think like anything – practice  breeds competency – and all the paddling I have done now has somehow taught the muscles in my body to move and react instinctively to the motion of the water. I have found myself being able to paddle through all sorts of water recently and not remain focused on staying upright – and I enjoy it because I can do it. The fear is dissipating because competency is overtaking it !!

I think being a part of Team Fat Paddler has been a primary driver in trying new things. Much like this method of entering the water from a beach with waves breaking… I am still not sure if this is the correct method or if Sean was just having a lend of me…. feel free to pass a comment below if you know a better way 🙂

Anyway – I had a go at surfing. I body surfed a bit when I was a kid but never on a board and certainly never in kayak.

I put together a short video of my attempt here. My first with splicing and music (inspiration form the Fat Paddler himself) – and a bit of rock gardening later in the morning…..

For you more experienced Kayak Surfers out there – I suppose if you watch the video below you will instantly spot half a dozen things I did wrong with regards to bracing, and posturing etc…..but I figure the best way to learn is to just get amongst it and learn by trial and error. I also know I need a few lessons on rolling and bracing too – because it would sure as heck be a lot easier to roll upright than have Sean conduct a full scale rescue every time I get dumped 🙂

I hope you like it !!!   Maybe double click the image to enlarge (and hit escape to return) & and turn up the sound for best effect !!

By the way – if you recall that scene where I was taking a photo right before a wave splashed me ? Well this is these are the pics a managed to grab !!



….and this is the little rock garden we played in. It may look calm enough in this picture – but I can assure you for a novice like me – trying to time my entry between the waves was hair-rasing enough !! Great fun once you pull it off though 🙂


Sean saw me checking this out for a few minutes - then showed me hows it done !

By 10.30am we were hungry and tired – “Did someone say egg and bacon roll???” –  and so we took off back to get some lunch !!

See you next week !!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    July 29, 2011 2:08 am

    The beach entry video is brilliant! Love it especially your ear to ear grin. I can feel the fun exploding out of my computer screen. As a surf ski paddler I have never given much thought to squeezing in before launching.
    Also great to see your confidence and ease in the foam from those waves. Looking forward to the future posts on your journey to the HCC2011.

  2. July 29, 2011 4:31 am

    Thanks for those kind words Scott !!!
    Yes – Every time I go out paddling with Sean and the gang – I have an absolute ball.
    Appreciate the support !!

  3. July 30, 2011 8:11 am

    Great videos Mike and well done getting out there right amongst it.

  4. July 30, 2011 11:57 pm

    Thanks Alan !!
    Looking forward to seeing you again on the water soon 🙂

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