5 Star Canoe Training

It has always been an ambition of mine to achieve the BCU 5 star leadership award and despite completing the training some years back, I never somehow got round to taking the assessment. Anyway to cut a long story short, I decided to redo the training with Ray Goodwin who in these parts is something of a canoe legend! The training was run over 4 days and was structured as follows.

Day 1 – Upstream Journey

Poling up the rapids

Using the River Dee at Llangollen, we used poles, tracking and wading to make an upstream journey that required a fair degree of effort, particularly poling up the tombstones rapid at the Mile End Mill site. Eventually we reached our destination and it was time to descend the river, which we did using snubbing and lining. Then over tea and cakes we looked at boat rescues techniques such as boat flip and pulley systems (Z drag and pig rig). I was particularly impressed by the adaptation to the pig rig to create a rolling system.

Day 2 – Open Water Skills
With light to moderate winds forecast, it was off to Bala Lake to look at canoe sailing (individual and group rigs) which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Then it was time to fine tune some of the core paddle techniques and look at strategies for group control in choppy conditions. However, after a bite to eat and chilling out in Bala we were soon back on the lake for a night navigation exercise. This looked at navigational techniques, group control and safety measures appropriate for working on open water.

Day 3 – River Leadership
Our venue for this was the Lower Tryweyn which goes at about Grade 3 with the occasional grade 4 rapid thrown in for good measure, which can be avoided fairly easily if desired.  During the day we looked at river running /leadership  strategies applicable to five star and fine tuned the fundamental white water strokes. A great day that left us all feeling tired by the end of it.

Day 4 – Surfing, Tandem & Rescues

The 'Legend' Surfing

We were back on the River Dee for the last day and looked at canoe surfing and I also tried flat spinning my canoe and almost got there but not quite. Then we looked at tandem skills, river rescue strategies.

I had a great 4 days with Ray and if you are thinking of doing your 5 star training then I recommend that you attend one run by Ray. You can find out more about his courses by clicking here.

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