This Spring I was invited to speak at Colorado Whitewater's Fundraiser dinner. I'd never been invited to speak before so I really took it seriously. Since I was invited to speak because I competed in the Whitewater Grand Prix (see our past posts in November through January 2013), and because I’ve noticed a more popular interest by more people in “running the gnar,” I took the opportunity to share with everyone my two bits about how one gets to the level of boating you saw in the WWGP and more generally, What Makes a Great Kayaker. This talk was really geared towards class III-IV and new class V paddlers, but I think that everyone got something out of it, whether you didn't kayak at all, or already considered yourself a badass.
I ended up putting together a talk that I'm pretty proud of. It was quite fun to actually sit, think, write down, and speak about some of my philosophies about how to get better at kayaking, how to learn and become badass without putting yourself in danger. The talk ended up being pretty long (~1hr), but I had some pretty good things to say and some humorous moments. Here is the complete video of the talk.
For those of you who would actually rather read than watch the video below, you can also access the full written speech. You can also see the powerpoint that I used which goes along with the click notes in the written speech here. It is really hard to see the powerpoint in the video because the projector and video camera operate at the same frames per second which gives that psychedelic rainbow effect.
Since the video is so long, here is the general outline/synopsis and what time intervals they occur in the video. Really the meat of what I say is in the last two much shorter sections.
1. Rachel Garza talks about the whitewater family (0-2:48)
2. INTRODUCTION (2:48-16:03).
Rachel Garza Introduces Me (2:48-5:00)
I start my talk (5:00)
You can be a GREAT paddler at ANY level of boating and that if all paddlers strive to be GREAT instead of just running harder runs, everyone will be safer on the water.
I then introduce the framework of the talk, which is about the three attributes (in increasing order of importance) that I think all great paddlers have: 1. Skills (starts at 16:03) 2. Awareness (starts at 43:25) 3. Comportment (starts at 48:03)
3. SKILLS (16:03-43:25)
This was by far the longest portion of my talk and perhaps the most tedious. You might just want to read this outline, flip through the powerpoint, or just listen to a few points that you are particularly interested in. In the future I think I would try to shorten this section A LOT!
- (16:03-19:02) Intro
- (19:02-26:20) I go through my timeline and growth as a paddler (see powerpoint for photos, hard to see in video)
- (26:20-26:57) My pet peeve, the question: "How many years have you been boating?"
- (26:57-32:17) I talk about what I have learned about how to learn, valuable lessons from my violin teacher
- Practice Often
- Concentrate on the building blocks and the hard stuff will be easy
- Getting good is more about how you practice than how long you practice.
- (32:17-42:33) I then go through some specific ways kayakers can improve their skills.
- Spend a lot of time on the water (32:17-34:00)
- Flatwater (34:00-37:07)
- Cross-training (ie. playboat) (34:00-39:44)
- Make easy runs harder (39:44-40:48)
- Observe, visualize, DO IT! (40:48-41:48)
- Get a Mentor/Coach (41:48-42:33)
4. AWARENESS. (43:25-48:03)
If you want to be a great safe paddler, awareness is crucial.
5. COMPORTMENT. (48:03-56:28)
You can have great skill and awareness, but to be truly a great paddler it matter what you DO with your skill and awareness.
6. CONCLUSION and QUESTIONS (56:30-end)
"Kayaking can be fun and safe at all levels from flatwater to V+. If you want to become better, at times you will need to raise the bar and step it up, but that doesn't mean that you have to be unprepared when you do.