Keep Up To Date
All of our planned and impromptu activites are arranged on Facebook and Yahoo Groups. Check them out for the latest happenings! Also check out the club calendar for scheduled events.
Want to come and have a chat? Our clubhouse is located directly under the Marlow side of Marlow Bridge (brown wood walls). There will be someone there at about 09:30 every Sunday. See the contact page for a map.
Introduction to Paddlesport
One of our key aims is to show as many people as possible the fun and achievement that paddlesport offers. To this end, during the summer, we run regular introductory courses which can accommodate up to 12 people. These courses take an entire weekend and show you everything you need to know to start paddling with us. During the course you will have the opportunity to complete the internationally recognised British Canoeing 1 Star qualification which shows that you know the basics of paddling.
Introductory courses are available every month during the summer; precise dates can be found on our Calendar page The calendar is a Google Calendar. Move through the months by clicking the blue arrows next to the month at the top of the calendar.
To book these courses, get in touch with our new members secretary on the contact page.
Beyond the Basics
Once you have got the bug, you will want to progress and further you skills. This can be done informally by just paddling with us, picking up tips from more experienced members and trying new things, like surfing little weirs. We also offer improver coaching modules, which can prepare you for the British Canoeing 2 Star award.
After 2 Star, you can start going for specialist training such as 3 Star Sea Kayak or 3 Star Whitewater Kayak which teach the essential skills and techniques required for those types of paddling. We run intermediate coaching modules, which will prepare you for 3 Star assessments.
3 Star Whitewater certifies you as being competent on Grade 2-3 whitewater which can be useful if you want to go on a whitewater holiday.
However, if certificate collection isn’t your thing, there is nothing wrong with simply learning from your friends and peers and progressing at your own speed. There are a lot of very good paddlers who don’t have a single “star” to their name!
Lots of new members want to start paddling whitewater. A rough idea of the progression that you would expect in Marlow is:
Learn to paddle / learn boat control. This is just a case of paddling on the Thames as much as possible to get a feel for it
Get a taster of whitewater on Temple and Marlow weir. This will happen fairly quickly (maybe even during 1 Star). Marlow and Temple give a good idea of paddling in a current and “edging” the boat. You will want to practice this a fair bit until you don’t feel “wobbly” any more.
Learn to roll at one of our pool sessions. This is so important as without being confident of being able to roll back up, you will be really nervous of paddling anything out of your comfort zone. Unless you were born to paddle, learning to roll takes a little while (a few sessions), so the pool is ideal
Go on a beginner whitewater trip to Symonds Yat, the River Usk, Nene Whitewater Centre or similar to gain experience and start to learn river reading (i.e. interpreting what the water will do to your boat).
Start paddling on Hurley weir (1 gate). Learn the basics of surfing a proper wave when Hurley only has a gate open. This will give you massive amounts of confidence on rivers as you will be used to dealing with swirling, powerful water
Paddle bigger rivers such as the Dart Loop, Lower Tryweryn and the Dee or the whitewater centres at Lee Valley or Cardiff.
Start to properly paddle Hurley weir (2+ gates). Hurley can teach you more than you ever need to know about boat control and “feeling” the water. It really is an excellent facility to have on our doorstep. They also say that if you can roll a kayak on 3 gates at Hurley, you can be confident of rolling anywhere. Not quite true, but almost :).
If you are really keen, you can reasonably expect to be at this level within a six months to a year. If you are less keen, it will take longer. But now you have all the essential skills to be a great WW boater. Its just a case of paddling more rivers and gaining more experience, especially of reading bigger, potentially dangerous river features.
Good next steps are the Upper Tryweryn, Upper Dart (both classics), the easier Scottish rivers or the French Alps.
After a few years of WW boating, you will be teaching the new members and planning your own trips to exciting destinations such as the Alps, Nepal or maybe even Norway! Have fun 🙂