Kayak Rescue Skills Competition Promotes Safe Paddling
Port Angeles, WA – April 13, 2011

The Port Angeles Kayak Symposium, from April 15th through the 17th on Hollywood Beach, features a new event that organizers hope catches on at gatherings around the paddling community.

The First Annual Port Angeles Rescue Skills Championship pits paddlers against the clock – and each other – in four essential paddling skills. The overall winner, says event host Dave King of Olympic Raft & Kayak, “is the one everybody will want to go paddling with. It means they’ve spent plenty of time practicing what they’ve learned in the classes we teach.”

In Kayak Self-Rescue, competitors exit their boat into the water, reenter, and pump the water from their boat before paddling back to the finish line. Traditionally, paddlers carry a hand pump. Mark Peloquin of Blue Water Kayak Works, the event’s head judge and sponsor, is awarding two Freedom 500 electric kayak bilge pumps to winners in the contest. “The extra time and energy it takes to hand-pump a kayak, especially in the rough conditions that likely got you into trouble in the first place, are so much better spent paddling out of trouble than pumping by hand”, says Peloquin. “This event will validate automated pumping systems and may even bring on a paradigm shift in our safety assumptions”.

In the Assisted Rescue, a volunteer “victim” is out of their kayak. The rescuer drains the victim’s boat of water and assists them into their boat. Key to success, says event co-organizer Bill Walker, is that the rescuer talks to the victim. “A paddler in the water is unpredictable”, he says. “A confident rescuer takes charge immediately tells the victim exactly what to do. It calms the victim and makes the rescue go smoothly”.

The “Hand of God” rescue assists victims who are still in their boat, but upside down – and incapacitated. The rescuer reaches over the victim’s kayak and pulls him/her upright. “It’s more skill and leverage than brute strength”, says Walker. “Paddlers rarely see a situation where this one’s required in the real world, but when needed, it has to be executed with confidence and speed to get an unconscious or panicked victim out of the water.”

The final piece of the contest is Towing. When a kayaker is injured, or more often, fatigued or seasick, they may need to be towed to a safe place to recover. Rhonda Schwab of Kayakers Go Coastal, a judge and co-sponsor of the event and certified kayak instructor, echoes Walker’s comments about skill over strength. “With practice, even a small paddler like me can connect to another kayak and tow a partner to shore. It’s all about technique and an efficient, confident stroke”.

Event summary:
* 1st Annual Port Angeles Rescue Skills Championship, sponsored by Blue Water Kayak Works and Kayakers Go Coastal
* 11am Sunday, April 17, 2011
* Location- Hollywood Beach, in front of the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln, Port Angeles, WA 98362
* Entry – $5
* Part of the 11th Annual Port Angeles Kayak Symposium, April 15 – 17, 2011

Contact info:
Event Director Bill Walker, Ruby Creek Boathouse: 206-940-6269, rubycreekboathouse@gmail.com
Event Host Dave King, Olympic Raft & Kayak, (888) 452-1443, dave@raftandkayak.com
Event web site: http://www.raftandkayak.com/sea-kayak-trips/kayak-symposium/

More info on:
Blue Water Kayak Works http://www.bluewaterkayakworks.com/
Kayakers Go Coastal http://www.kayakersgocoastal.net/