Author Topic: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers  (Read 923 times)

Ichabod Spoonbill

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Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« on: November 23, 2018, 06:28:19 AM »
So you guys all know that I'm sort of alone on my neck of the woods. (One of the reasons I'm starting my nonprofit is to create some new paddlers!) I've been hooking up with kayakers to get a little company, and this has been creating some strange issues, especially on MeetUp.

issue #1: Kayakers want to paddle by themselves.
So I go on some of the meetups that promise challenging paddles (which I'm game for) and I get rejected because I'm told kayakers will be working on specific skills (not advertised in event), or that I'll just be slowing everybody down. (It's hard to argue that I won't when these people's experience is with slow SUPers, and I'm reasonably fast on my 14' board.) I'm invited to go on the easy paddles, but that gets old.

Issue #2: Kayakers don't get winter paddling.
Yes, the cold is the cold, but taking a fall from a kayak into very cold water is much different than from a SUP. We do fall more often, but the consequences aren't so great. Unless the fall is weird, we're back on our boards in under 5 seconds. A kayaker has to deal with a lot more when their boat flips. I've been told I must have a drysuit on a winter paddle when I know for a fact that my 5/4 wetsuit is fine. I've taken a spill in 33Ί water with no issues. The wetsuit also lets me cool off when I get hot. But the organizer insisted on a drysuit, even offered to loan me one, but that still kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I decided to decline the event. Even when I finally buy a SUPskin drysuit, that probably won't be recognized as good enough because it isn't Kokatat plate mail.

Issue #3: Kayakers seem to be very concerned with certification
Again, this is a way to exclude. Since I didn't have certifications like ACA, my skill isn't trusted. It's damn annoying to be treated like a newbie because I didn't have the right letters after my name. And the letters I had — PaddleFit L2 — didn't mean squat. What is this, college? I need a letter salad after my name in order to paddle with the big boys? I now have an ACA certification, the only one the local organizers and instructors seem to recognize, but I'm loathe to even mention it because the whole elitism annoys me.

This sh-t is getting old. I don't need to have to prove myself to these people that I'm skilled. I'm not Larry Cain skilled, but at this point I have more skill on a SUP in my neck of the woods than almost anybody. I guess I'm back to paddling by myself, then.

Rant over.
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stoneaxe

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2018, 10:26:12 AM »
Ask how many have paddled across Cape Cod Bay.
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rbgar

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2018, 11:11:41 AM »
tweakers  :o

PonoBill

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2018, 11:55:51 AM »
That's a funny post. About ten years ago when I was willing to drive long distances to do an interesting race or paddle I went to upstate Washington to do a distance paddle. I didn't realize it was a kayak event until I got there. There was no objection to me joining in, but I was kind of surprised at the level of bureaucracy for what was essentially a very safe, relatively short distance fun paddle. Waivers, certifications, who leaves first, lots of huddles. Lots of examining each other's kayaks, paddles and equipment. It took forever to get going and the paddle turned out to be a fairly short run against light wind along breakwalls. Then a lot of fussing around afterward and they went off to an awards banquet of some kind. I went home.

It was a very different culture than the SUP-only events, or the Maui Canoe and Kayak Club events which used to include SUP but no longer do because of declining participation. Despite the original name, the MCKC was primarily one and two-man Outrigger canoes and surfskis--no standard kayaks. Even there SUPs were more tolerated than welcomed, but I'm not surprised that your SUP isn't welcome in kayak events--very different folks. Kind of fussbudgets. I know Kayakers travel long distances and do some amazing stuff--but not the folks in the clubs.
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supthecreek

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2018, 12:29:49 PM »
Sorry you are getting the bums rush Ian.... screw the whingers, too much chatter ruins a paddle trip anyway.

99.9% of the time I am totally alone on winter paddles.
I prefer it that way.
Just me and the sounds of winter wildlife.... which are way more interesting than summer.

Last thing I want to do is "schedule" a winter paddle...
I just see the perfect conditions and go... takes me 5 minutes to leave, my van is always ready.

Nothing like the solitude of a winter snowstorm or an empty island to explore when it's 15*  F


Area 10

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2018, 01:02:58 PM »
This is why we should be concerned about the ICF representing SUP. SUP reflects its origins in surf culture in so many ways, and different sports attract different personalities.

mrbig

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2018, 03:05:58 PM »
Curiouser and curiouser.

Here in NE there is an organization called NECKRA. New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association.

They have recently started to allow and encourage SUPS to participate in "their" events.

Much cheaper entry fees and a level of professionalism that seems to be missing at many of the "Local" SUP Races.

The Great Stone Dam Race in Lawrence MA, and the Susan Hensseler Race in RI were top notch.
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FRP

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2018, 04:38:16 PM »
Ichabod,

Not sure if this helps, but see if you can find a group of kayakers that surf. They tend to be a bit more relaxed about rules and would likely welcome a supster. I come from a surf kayaking background and there definitely was a paucity of rules and a lot of hooting and cheering each other on as well as a fair bit of carnage! We would surf anything, river boats, play boats, surf kayaks and our 17’ touring kayaks. Injuries and broken boats were not uncommon.

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seadart

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2018, 10:57:39 PM »
Sounds like you have fallen in with a bunch of BCU / ACA "Seakayakers"   (who hardly ever actually go to sea).

You have recognized that if you aren't very skilled in kayak and tip over in rough conditions you can be in big trouble in cold water. So there is a lot of emphasis on paddling together / getting certifications like merit badges etc.    When I rented a kayak in UK once I had to prove I could roll, so I whipped off about 20 rolls in a minute  for the gentleman giving the test. He let me rent the kayak.

It's funny but two of the best BCU coaches I know in the US paddle all the time with SUPs and paddle SUPs themselves.

There are plenty of whitewaterkayakers and surf kayakers who will paddle with SUPers. I know some on the East coast in MA, VA and FL mostly.  If you are ever in San Diego I'll certainly go out with you on the bay, cove or surfing and introduce you to kayakers who both kayak and SUS.

singingdog

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2018, 04:38:25 AM »
Yep, 2 totally different cultures. I am coming at it from a different angle: a class 5 whitewater paddler that then moved to touring/sea kayaking then to SUP. Sea kayakers can be amongst the most anal, underskilled, overequipped paddlers in all of the water sports world. Ironically, the folks paddling the really tough stuff are usually the easiest to get along with. The lower end folks can be absolutely cringe inducing.

When I was still repping/teaching, I went to the occasional seakayaking symposium. I quickly learned that the shinier the boat, and the more rescue gear dripping from their PFD, the lower the actual paddling skill. I was told many times that being able to roll (which I might do 100 times in typical play session) was a specialised rescue skill with limited application. These folks were so afraid of being upside down in a boat that it affected their ability to paddle....and their judgement.

Many, many yakkers and canoeist don't understand that falling off a board is not dangerous, like falling out of their craft can be. I run into it all the time. Good luck finding someone to paddle with. I suggest looking for lots of duct tape and a post-paddle beer cooler  :)

Ichabod Spoonbill

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2018, 06:35:26 AM »
Those are good insights everybody. It's weird — I figured I'd be welcomed in events because we don't have a lot of paddlers on the river. The more the merrier, right? But no. There's this tendency to exclude and control which is vexing me. I like that word you used, Bill. Fussy. Yeah, that kind of nails it.

It's weird too because I'm telling these people that I'm pretty skilled. Again, I'm not a race-winner but I can hold my own in almost anything. The funny thing is how few people believe me. It's like they're the only skilled people out there. My 95 mile trip down the Hudson doesn't mean anything. I think I'm one of three SUPers who have done that.

I wonder if this is the east coast version of “proners don't like SUPers”?
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kwhilden

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Re: Rant — SUPing With Kayakers
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2018, 07:57:24 AM »
Those are good insights everybody. It's weird — I figured I'd be welcomed in events because we don't have a lot of paddlers on the river. The more the merrier, right? But no. There's this tendency to exclude and control which is vexing me. I like that word you used, Bill. Fussy. Yeah, that kind of nails it.

It's weird too because I'm telling these people that I'm pretty skilled. Again, I'm not a race-winner but I can hold my own in almost anything. The funny thing is how few people believe me. It's like they're the only skilled people out there. My 95 mile trip down the Hudson doesn't mean anything. I think I'm one of three SUPers who have done that.

I wonder if this is the east coast version of “proners don't like SUPers”?

Ichabod,

I think you just need a little more empathy for the kayak club crowd.  Once the advanced trip leaders get to know you, the cool ones won't have any problem with you joining their trips.

The issue that's hard for SUP'ers and Hawaiian paddlers to understand is that hypothermia and drowning kills a lot of kayakers.  It doesn't matter how calm the water happens to be. The risk is the same if the water is cold. So the kayaking clubs and meetups have to be hyper vigilant about safety given that one unskilled paddler can ruin a whole trip.  You are running into this dynamic and perhaps misinterpreting it.

Back in the 90s, I was in in grad school in Seattle and a hardcore whitewater and sea kayaker.  I was a leader of of the university kayak club, and made money as an instructor for whitewater and sea kayaking teaching beginners. I also did kayak reviews and wrote articles for the excellent Sea Kayaker magazine (now defunct). I know the perspective of your side and theirs.

Singingdog's post nailed the heart of the issue.  Most kayakers fear learning to eskimo roll.  So as a consequence they have developed an elaborate culture of safety checks and equipment. This is a good thing in a club setting, where one person with low skills can ruin the enjoyment of the trip and possibly put people's lives at risk.  Believe me... I've been there many times when I was leading kayak trips, and I can 100% understand the perspective of fussy trip leaders trying to understand if you're a safety risk.

Look for kayakers with whitewater experience, because the culture of whitewater is much more like surfing / SUPing.  It really is a night and day type of difference in personality, approach, and average skill level.

If those guys aren't around, just use better language to explain your safety approach to paddling in cold rough water. That's what the trip leaders need to know. 

Tell the trip leaders you have the equivalent of a "bomb proof" eskimo roll, which is hopping right back on your board, and that you know how to avoid hypothermia. Explain the safety equipment you carry and your willingness to do what's safe for the trip.

You might also point out that your board actually increases safety of the trip because it can be used to help rescue a capsized kayak, and keep swimmers out of the water while their boat is being emptied. For example, they can sit on your board so they spend less time in cold water.

Having said all of that... this wouldn't be the zone if I didn't also say something controversial.  :) 

In rough water (not surf), kayaks are more seaworthy and have a higher degree of safety than any SUP. That's why so many good whitewater kayakers have switched to paddling SUP, because it raises the difficulty level of easy rivers. There's an inherent advantage for kayakers because of their low center of gravity. On the advanced level sea kayak trips that I used to take in the PNW, a SUP'er would have had a lot of trouble and been a safety risk. No matter how skilled they were.

...and the opposite is true in the surf zone.


 
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 08:01:55 AM by kwhilden »
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