Saturday, October 29, 2011

Loreto Kayak Symposium

Sea Kayak Baja Mexico

This week I've had the pleasure of assisting Ginni Callahan with a 4-day sea paddler training at the Loreto Kayak Symposium in Loreto, BCS, Mexico.  "Mi espanol es no bueno" was my go-to phrase on the journey down since my conversational spanish is horrible.  After one flight and three bus rides I arrived in Loreto 24 hours after leaving Berkeley and was instantly greeted by Santiago Berrueta, Mexico's only BCU 4* paddler and lead guide at Sea Kayak Baja Mexico.  Later that day we met the group of 7 students - two Venezualans, one american and four mexicans.  Much of the course was run in Spanish and my conversation skills improved leaps and bounds in the 96 hours that followed.  

Sea paddler training works off the BCU 3* syllabus and can cover a large range of topics.  Since conditions on the Sea of Cortez were predicted to be light - read flat - we loaded trucks and ventured to San Juanico, also known as Scorpion Bay, arguably the longest right wave in North America.  Unfortunately it wasn't going off to it's potential, but we did encounter a nice surf zone to coach in and rather dynamic conditions for two days of training on the Pacific. 

Ginni is a fantastic coach and really brings out the best in her students.  Personally I'm improving my own coaching skills while shadowing and co-teaching with her.  She is leading the way for sea paddlers in Mexico and is raising quite a group of skilled paddlers.  Her business, Sea Kayak Baja Mexico, is a Nigel Dennis Expedition Center and uses the best equipment available - NDK kayaks, Werner paddlers, Seals, Snapdragon, Kokatat and more.  They offer everything from boat hire to training to full-on expeditions.  

It was impressive to watch the students progress quickly in four days and improve on fundamental skills.  Before the training some of these paddlers had never been in the surf zone and by day two they were side surfing, combat rolling and applying fundamentals in dynamic water.  It was beautiful to watch.  To top it off, we camped right on the beach between the ocean and the dunes.    

Back on the Sea of Cortez we said goodbye to Lorena and hello to Dave.  Launching at Rattlesnake beach on day 3, we set off for stroke training and navigation exercises in slightly bumpy water.  The brave stuck around for a fourth day boat control in wind and rescues on the rocks.  Sadly the water was just too warm to be refreshing and you can be out of your boat all day and not be a bit uncomfortable.  Baja is an amazing place and I feel very lucky to be here paddling & exploring with great people.  I'm in Loreto the rest of the day then we head north to start a 10-day trip from Mulege back to Loreto.  Check back for a trip report...  Adios.

my bed for the night

Baja Highway

San Juanico

Sunrise over Danzante

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