It was an opportunity to get an insight into the makings of an elite paddler, and also to garner a few pearls of wisdom on our own paddle strokes, set up, attitude and also work through some excellent drills aimed at identifying the true source of paddling power.
Sean began the session with a short theory lesson on posture, hand positioning & boat set up, with an emphasis on the biomechanics of harnessing your big muscles.
From there we headed out into some very mild bay chop for over an hour of on-water skills, drills, balancing exercises & a series of short bursts each focusing on a different aspect of stroke. Mindful of the journey most of the DPP guys have taken this summer from flat water to moving water, he pulled together a series of drills that graduated from form & posture, to balance, and finally to fitness and conditioning.
I noticed a lot of tired core muscles by the end of it, and I don't think I was Robinson Crusoe.
Despite the large group, he managed to get around to each & every paddler, taking the time to offer advice on individual boat set up & paddle length, as well as few short & uncomplicated words of advice on the water, aimed at improving what he could see. For me it was the small observation that my knees are consistently too far apart. I corrected my posture & immediately felt a lift in the amount of power I was able to generate. A really small thing, but the sort of golden tip which I always appreciate.
A dramatic, burning post-storm sunset greeted as we paddled back to the club, where after a group photo we adjourned to our clubhouse for a counter dinner with Sean & Emily & a cold beverage or two, where Sean held court with tales of the world surf ski circuit. I had no idea that he is the only surf ski paddler in history to be bitten on the head by a seal, which is something you would think will endure as a first, long after he's stopped winning world championships!
Suffice to say we had a great night, came away with enough food for thought to take away & improve our own paddling, as well as getting a very personal & at times outrageously funny glimpse into the world of the ultra elite champion paddler.
Sean is heading around the country & over to NZ in coming weeks, but will be back in Sydney for another session at Dolls Point on Wednesday March 18. Cost per person is $80, which includes dinner & a Q&A with Sean at the Sailing Club afterwards. There were quite a few people who missed out on this one, so please either give Mark a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Sean Rice direct through his website (www.yourpaddlelife.com) if you'd like to come along.