I would like to think that 2019 was the year in which we continued with the development and growth of the kayaking section started in previous years and before I became involved.

2019 started with the normal pool sessions at the Waterfront Leisure Complex. As always, they were well attended and greatly benefitted those who participated.

We moved back to the Boat Club and the River Clyde after the Opening Cruise. Unfortunately we were beset with poor weather and this got us off to a bumpy start, with several sessions having to be cancelled at the last minute. The weather eventually settled down and we continued with the regular Monday and Tuesday evening training.

Having a very consistent number of paddlers on a training night, it was decided 2019 was the year for increasing skill level.

Courses

A Foundation Safety & Rescue Training course was held. This course was extremely successful and beneficial, so much so we held a further 2 courses, up-skilling 17 paddlers.

We have 74 paddlers registered on the Scottish Canoe Association database. This obviously “pinged up” on somebody’s email and as a result the Royal West was asked to host a Coaching Matters training day. This is where any qualified coach in the Scottish Region is invited to attend and learn about latest best practice and development on kayak coaching. This was attended by 5 Royal West coaches. It allowed 3 of our 4 coaches to maintain their “active” status and more importantly 2 of our “expired” coaches to revalidate to “active”.

To continue the up-skilling theme, we held a 2-day First Aid course specially tailored to water sport. This course also proved very popular and so we held another.

Now, there is no good being a skilled paddler if you cannot understand how to get between 2 locations on the water. To overcome this it was decided to hold a Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning Course. Situation normal – this course proved to be so popular we had to hold a further two.

With so many paddlers out on the water and having to cross busy shipping and ferry lanes, communication is important, especially if you need to summon assistance in a hurry. A number of paddlers sat the VHF Radio course. This course was run by the Greenock Sea Cadets. This course is in 2 parts – lecture and practical. We only held one lecture session – but due to the number of paddlers we had to hold the practical session over two evenings.

The Foundation Safety & Rescue Training course covers the safety and rescue from various types of kayak & canoe and paddle board. Although we are primarily a sea kayaking club, many paddlers are involved in other disciplines particularly when they are on holiday or away from home. We may also come across other people in difficultly when we are out on the water. Matt and Colin, two of our coaches, are now qualified as FSRT Providers allowing us to carry out in-house training at the Club. To gain the FSRT Provider certificate Matt & Colin had to gain Awards in Open Canoeing and Stand-up Paddle Boards.

Going back to the needs of the members – a one day FSRT day does not make the standard paddler highly proficient in providing safety cover and carrying out rescues. I am hoping that with Colin’s and Matt’s guidance I would like to think very soon every member of the kayaking section would be extremely proficient in safety and rescue work.

Upgrading Facilities

With the new Boathouse, the opportunity was taken to improve the storage of kayaks. We refurbished the Kayak Shed fitting plastic covers to metal scaffold tubing. Additional racking was built in the Boathouse and the racking in the Main Shed was replaced.

The profile of the fleet has also changed. We purchased 2 Surfski’s and 2 paddle boards. The paddle boards are needed for the FSRT course. A fact about the surfskis – they are the most signed out boats, of any boat, and both have covered over 1000 miles each since being launched. I will qualify that by saying most of the 1000 miles have been covered by 2 paddlers.

Wheels to Water

A special mention to Tom Kater who represented the Royal West by helping at the Disability Scotland event “Wheels to Water” at Castle Semple.

Tail o’ the Bank

We had hoped that the surfskis would encourage competitors in the Tail o’ the Bank – this being an annual racing event held at the Royal West. 2019 was the 4th consecutive year since the race was reintroduced. The 2019 race was carnage due to the weather, but a good day for action filled photographs and for a number of paddlers from the Royal West regarding medal wins. Colin Campbell was 1st in the Sea Kayak Men 10 mile and Mark Hanson and Mark Gallacher were 1st and 2nd in the Sea Kayak Men 4 mile. As an aside, Colin also won the Cumbrae Sea Kayak race having won it previously the last time he entered in 1975 as a junior.

The Greenock Sea Cadets provided rescue boat safety cover for the Clyde swim and the Tail o’ the Bank. I don’t think we could run these events without their help.

Pool Sessions 2020

This year, the winter pool sessions started off sharing the pool with the scouts and sea cadets in a single session. In the space of 3 weeks, this has escalated to 3 – 1 hour sessions per week for each individual group. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Inverclyde Council and the Waterfront staff for all their help.

Winter Talks

I thought that the Winter Talks had peaked last year, even although we didn’t have the favourite (should that be infamous?) “cooking night” I am pleased to report that the talks this year have been just as good, if not better. Thanks to Paul and Tom for all the organisation.

What’s happening 2020 (Provided Covid-19 restrictions are lifted)

The kayaking section is aiming to continue with the roll out the courses held last year. These will be aimed at members who missed the early courses and especially new members.

We hope to add a number of Personal Performance Awards to the portfolio, in particular sea kayaking, open canoeing and perhaps SUP.

This year we must aim to hold more Club Trips having only managed the Erskine Bridge last year. Several organised trips had to be cancelled last year due to weather conditions, although we did complete many informal trips from the Club. We have already started to address this with Ewen Chisholm arranging a paddle from the Erskine Bridge to the centre of Paisley.

Hopefully we can tie in with Visit Scotland’s campaign “Year of Coasts and Waters 2020”. One suggestion is holding a day trip from the Boat Club where we can showcase our local attractions – leaving from the Esplanade, going to Rosneath Point, view of the Arrochar Alps, Sugar Boat, Newark up at Port Glasgow and back down past a number of historical landmarks.

We would like to continue to work with the scouts, sea cadets and any other like-minded interested group and especially individuals in promoting water sport for everyone.

Conclusion

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to thank – Club management, especially the coaches, helpers and members who came along on a regular basis and supported all aspects, and especially kayaking, at the Royal West Boat Club.

William Bell
Kayaking Convenor

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