What Level Am I?
One of our frequently asked questions is what level am I and which course or guided trip is right for me? Our mission is to give paddlers a clear pathway to help them develop their skills, whether in canoes, kayaks or sea kayaks, so opening the doors to exciting paddling adventures around our beautiful UK rivers and coastlines. Let’s help you decide.
Level 1 – Any of our guided trips or courses labelled Level 1 are ideal for new paddlers. You might have been on one of our guided family or adult social trips with New Forest Activities or paddled a number of years ago. You do not need any experience, but must be fairly fit and comfortable swimming up to 50m or floating (with a flotation device) in deep water. Trips will take place in sheltered environments on flat water with distances up to 8kms.
Level 2 – trips and courses are designed for paddlers moving on from a Level 1. You should have done a capsize drill or be comfortable with a capsize; don’t worry you don’t need to know how to roll a kayak! You should be ready to learn support strokes and perform different rescues. Paddling will be planned for calm waters, light wind with small chop and surf. Distances covered will be around 10 to 15kms.
Level 3 – events are designed for paddlers with a year or two consistent paddling under their belts, or club paddlers. Guided trips and coaching will take place in more exposed coastal areas and with longer distances with opportunities for skills development in rock gardens and caves. Force 3 winds, tidal streams of 1knt and surf up to 1m. You don`t need to know how to roll but should be either learning or ready to learn and have support strokes to keep you stable in moderate conditions. You should be able to perform a deep water rescue effectively and ready to learn a variety of towing and rescue techniques. You’ll probably have a few items of kit you’ve bought yourself.
Level 4 – coaching sessions and trips are for paddlers with 3+ years of consistent paddling under their belts, club paddlers or those fast tracking to leadership qualifications. Guided trips and coaching will take place in more exposed coastal areas and may involve open water crossings with distances covered in a day of around 20km+. There may be opportunities for skills development and leadership and environments might include Force 4+, tidal flow 2+knts and surf up to 1.5m. You will need to know how to roll in calm waters, have a variety of rescues and be comfortable and familiar with towing. You should have support strokes to keep you stable in moderate conditions and be able to perform a deep water rescue effectively.
Our guided trips for sea kayaking will be labelled at the appropriate level on the calendar so you can make sure the trip your booking is most likely to meet your skills levels and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the water.
Which Course Is Best for Me?
To Come Paddling, Do I Need To Be Able To Roll?
Something that we come across quite often when talking to people who are thinking about paddling or new to the sport is the idea that they have to first learn how to roll.
Whilst a roll is a really useful skill to have, and whether you’re having fun on the sea, or in white water environments, it will be a tool to add to your toolkit of rescue techniques. The short answer is no you don’t; it’s a skill to master after you’ve mastered a few others!
Staying upright is what most paddlers aim to do and you’ll naturally improve the ‘more time you spend in a boat’. You need to improve your awareness between your body, the boat and your blade (paddle). Your coach will introduce techniques such as support strokes, for stability and with time and practice, you’ll be able to increase your range of motion, and the environments that you paddle.
A wet exit; is literally the ability to fall out of a kayak or canoe and IS something to be learned! “What do I do with my spray deck?”, “what about the paddle?”, “what happens once I come up?” are frequently asked. Getting comfortable being in a boat underwater and a wet exiting is your first step to kayak rolling!
Getting back in your boat will either be down to you (self rescue) or shared with a friend (assisted) and a slick assisted rescue (under 60s) will be an ESSENTIAL recovery skill. It’s one you’ll want to have a go at by the end of your first or second coaching session.
Remember; even a ‘bombproof’ kayak roll can fail or even be impossible to try so an ESSENTIAL back up is your assisted rescue.
So do you need to learn to roll? Not for a while yet!
What Do I Need To Wear and Bring With Me?
Can I Hire Out Your Boats?
Unfortunately, we don’t currently hire out any of our boats. If you wish to paddle on the Beaulieu River solo, you can pay a small fee to launch. Find out more information HERE.
Alternatively, our sister company New Forest Activities run kayak hire during the summer months. Find out more information HERE.