President's Email - Oct 2018

Dear Members,

With our fantastic Blue Water Paddle Festival and AGM weekend fast approaching on 10&11 November, I wanted to update you all on some important developments currently underway.  I also take this opportunity to note that these President Emails have been less frequent recently due to an extended overseas trip in the middle of the year and PhD related busyness. I opted instead to use the column in Sea Trek to update on key events.


2018 Blue Water Paddling Festival and AGM – Committee Nominations


You will find details on the website relating to the weekend at Barwon Heads, as well as in the brochure that was mailed to all members recently. I urge all members to book in for what promises to be another great weekend of paddling, socialising, checking out new gear and listening to some interesting talks – and much more.


If you are interested in nominating for the Committee next year, I would encourage you to do so as it is a great way to contribute to our great Club. Keep your eyes out for the nomination process that will be advised to all members in the next few weeks.


At this year’s AGM weekend, the Committee will be hosting a members issues forum on Friday night. This will be a great opportunity for any member to raise any issue and to have a chat about it with the Committee. It will be a great opportunity for new members in particular to hear about what’s happening in the Club. You can find details about this in the program brochure.


Roll Out of New Grading Program


By now I am sure all members are well aware of the process underway to progressively implement the Club’s new grading structure. There are further details about this in the News Section on the website. I am very pleased to note the progress being made by the trainee instructor group in getting themselves up to speed as Paddling Australia accredited Sea Instructors. This will over time greatly enhance the Club’s ability to run skills training and related events.


During this year we have had several intake days for new Sea Leaders. As well, intakes for the new Intro to Sea Skills and Sea Skills  grades have been held, as well as some skill and knowledge specific forums. We have also seen a number of skill specific training events to help members develop core skills relevant to these grades. For the benefit of recently joined members, the changes the Club is introducing are as follows (PA refers to Paddling Australia):


  • Sea Kayak Basics (a VSKC defined grade that replaces Grade 0)
  • Introduction to Sea Skills (an PA defined grade that replaces Grade 1)
  • Sea Skills (an PA defined grade that replaces Grade 2)
  • Sea Leader (a PA defined grade, replaces Grade 3. This will be our new Trip Leader level)
  • Sea Instructor (an AC defined grade)


Members with existing VSKC Grades will be able to retain these, or cutover to the new grades. Grade 3 paddlers will need to demonstrate maintenance of existing VSKC currency requirements in order to sustain VSKC Trip Leader status.


I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone involved in getting our new program up to speed. The new Committee once in place will discuss with the Instructor Group plans for progressing the roll out in 2019.


Sea Kayak Basics


As mentioned above, this new VSKC specific grade is replacing ‘Grade 0’. In effect the Club has had no formal grading below the first designated level of Grade 1 (being replaced with Intro to Sea Skills). Sea Kayak Basics is being introduced to close this gap. It will be a mandatory requirement for all newly joining members, and will be awarded upon demonstration of some basic skills and knowledge. This will be available on regularly held Club training and induction paddles. The VSKC Trip Leader of the day will make the award once a paddler demonstrates the requirements. The Trip Leader will also help paddlers to understand and practice requirements, in some cases on dry land as appropriate. 


In paddling terms, it is not an onerous requirement, but it does equip the paddler with the basics required to safely enjoy Club paddles, and forms the foundation for future skills progression. Full details will be advised to all members once the Committee has formalised associated paperwork shortly. At the AGM Weekend, Club Assessor Terry Barry will be running a dedicated session to award Sea Kayak Basics to any ungraded member who registers for this session. In summary, the core requirements will include:



  • Present sea kayak and on board equipment to VSKC standards
  • Present themselves for the paddle suitably dressed for the conditions on the day and know how to modify clothing to suit changing conditions
  • Understand use of whistle, hand and paddle signals to communicate.
  • Show an understanding of correct posture for paddling and basic injury prevention



  • Competently fit the spraydeck, launch the kayak and paddle away from the launching point in a controlled manner.
  • Able to paddle forward and turn the kayak in an efficient manner
  • Able to perform a basic low brace support stroke
  • Come alongside and raft up as a group or with at least one other kayak
  • Perform a competent wet exit from the kayak.
  • Get back into the kayak with assistance from other paddlers
  • Swim 50 metres in full sea kayaking (paddling) gear
  • Demonstrate an ability to maintain an effective group paddling pace


For existing, ungraded members, the Committee in conjunction with the Instructor group will determine a suitable prior experience recognition approach, which will be implemented throughout 2019. The aim over time is to have all members holding a designated grade.


Development of a Club Paddling Protocol


The Club has had a series of operating procedures, contained in various documents. These procedures relate to Club Administration and Club Paddling Rules and Policies. With the advent of the new Club Grading Model, the Committee has decided to issue a comprehensive document that focuses solely on paddling related activities undertaken by the Club. Everything from grading requirements, safety procedures, boat set up standards to trip management associated forms, etc will be covered.


The Committee has an advanced draft of this document under review and I expect it will be issued for member input once the considerable editing job is complete.



Very best regards


Richard Rawling

President, VSKC