Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geneva Kayak October KayakFest

ChicagoMark and I attended classes at the KayakFest at Geneva Kayak today, beginning at 7am for their Saturday morning Kayak & Coffee paddle. They paddle a couple of miles up the river, have some coffee, then paddle back to Geneva Kayak. It was a good time. I met Bill from the QajaqUSA BBS, Mike, Dave and Tom, and several other enthusiastic paddling java junkies.

Then it was back to Geneva Kayak for classes at 10am. The first class we attended was on the water, Weird Strokes, taught by Jim T., a multiple whitewater kayak national champion and a judge at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. This guy was just incredible on the water. He would drop his paddle in the water, do whatever it was he had to do, then somehow get the kayak back to the paddle and casually pick it up. The first time we saw him today, he paddled up to the edge of one of the Fox River dams and shoved a large tree branch, which had been hung up on the edge of the dam, over the edge.

Our next class was Kayak Safety, with Paul R., who is somewhat famous for his attempted crossing of Lake Michigan in 2006. I'll let you find the news story yourself. He and his paddling buddy completed the crossing earlier this year. It was a very informative class from a guy who had been there and back.

The next class, Stroke Analysis, was attended by ChicagoMark while I played hooky from the Dryland Rolling class. After that I hopped back onto the water to get ready for the Forward Stroke class, also taught by Jim.

Again, I can't say enough about this guy. He's an iron man. He was on the water for hours at a time teaching classes. During the class, the wind began blowing upstream, raising waves up to one foot and actually giving us some surfing pushes as we paddled upstream. Paul gave us some good tips and analysis on our forward stroke on the way back. Navigation Class with Chris followed that. We learned how to read charts and to triangulate our position using two compass readings and your chart.

Through the window, I noticed a young couple checking out the Greenland Style Kayak. I hoped that they wouldn't leave before the class ended. After class, I went out to find that it was a guy with whom I'd been emailing over the past weeks about our kayaks. We had some great kayak talk, then I had to run to the next class, Winter Paddling.

In Winter Paddling, Ryan showed us all the gear needed for winter paddling and gave us a lot of good tips on paddling in the cold. Mark and I had to leave after the last class, but everyone else enjoyed a catered barbecue dinner.

We had a great time at KayakFest. Thanks to Ryan and all of the instructors for providing us with great, FREE instruction.