To readers of this blog, Sean Rice needs no introduction. Even my 4 and 7 year old sons know who Soren Ris (common Danish name) is. After a very successful trip around the Western US and Canada, Sean had once again set his eyes on Norway where the surfski sport is in it´s infancy. And these are exiting times as the sport is growing like mad in parts of Scandinavia fuelled by wind, cold water and a very strong kayaking tradition.
Rather than reiterating the minutes of the clinics Sean did in Oslo, I´ll try to share my own experience. How I benefitted from Sean´s ability to deliver an analytical breakdown of your paddling technique, and follow this up with a very comprehensible workaround for you to take home.
Sean had visited Norway in May and hosted a handful of successful clinics with extraordinarily positive feedback. Back then I had just returned from a few short days a Dawid & Nikki Mocke´s Paddling School in Fish Hoek South Africa. A truly wonderful experience where focus had been surf zone training and cracking downwind runs. I had begun following an intense training program very kindly tailored by Nikki Mocke, but was painfully aware that my technique was actually bad, very bad.
My paddling issues
I love the sport, but from time to time I felt uncomfortable in my skis without really being able to tell why. Especially when conditions were flat and no downwind adrenaline could hide my shortcomings. Together with my trusted and skilled physiotherapist I had cracked part of the code and built more core strength. But arriving at a true workaround for better surfskiing was very difficult and the solution always just beyond reach.
Enter Sean Rice
Sean Rice dropped by Oslo in May this year on invitation from local surfski enthusiasts Einar Kjerschow. Literally two hours later I walked away from Sean´s clinic with a near complete road map to better speed, less physical strain and a much better technique.
I expected the clinic to be hosted by a professional athlete very knowledgeable about good technique and able to outline the basic steps towards a good forward stroke. But what I and others got in May was much better – an analytical breakdown of our individual so-so paddling style and custom made technical building blocks each of us could utilise to achieve a better paddling style.
Book a private clinic and Sean will have a better chance to watch you paddling from various angles and will keep quiet – for just a short while. Then he´ll jump in a surfski and paddle alongside you to confirm the theory forming in his mind. Now quiet-time is over and Sean will in clear text lay out what your boat is doing wrong, what you´re doing to cause this, why you´re doing this, what you should do to correct this now and what you should focus on to overcome the problem on a long term. What you should focus on as problematic for your stroke, and what you should just learn to accept as your own personal interpretation of a good forward stroke.
In my own case my main concern before the clinic in May was a weird stroke, high left stroke, low right stroke, force spent moving air and water in directions no all good for winning any races, very asymmetrical connection between lower and upper body. The clinic in May and loads of training afterwards took care of a lot of this and speed picked up considerably.
But what was worse was that I still couldn´t get rid of this sometimes uncomfortable feeling in my boats. They all felt like they´re were going just a bit left, bucket felt like it was just a bit asymmetrically built, pedals felt like my legs weren´t equally long while indeed they are. All these little things seemed like different issues until this Monday´s clinic in Oslo when Sean´s analysis tore them apart and reconnected them into one manageable solution addressing a domino effect caused by weaker left side protecting itself and a stronger right side opening up to applying full power. Pretty simple really, but to the untrained eye these things are disguised by loads of compensating paddling moves, leaving you stuck with a mediocre stroke and risk of injuries.
Again I walked away from a new Sean Rice clinic with an big piece of a new roadmap. This time a roadmap to much more enjoyable paddling.
Being on a fluid surface with so many variables few people will be able to self diagnose the underlying reason to their seemingly unconnected paddling issues. With access to raw talent like Sean Rice’s, surfskiing is indeed a special sport where you can actually learn from the best!
In a few good days in Norway Sean hosted clinics for beginners, intermediate and experienced paddlers. Theory and practical sessions covering basic technique and the art of reading and using waves. Feed back from the participants has once again been outstanding.
If you ever get the chance I really really recommend that you join a clinic with Sean Rice who in addition to being one of the absolutely leading surfskiers is now using his fine-tuned analytical powers to help paddlers enjoy their sport even more.
While Sean has left Norway to race in the Ohana Mana Surfski Race (good luck), we´re now so amped in Norway that we´re busy preplanning a longer Norwegian / Swedish / Danish(?) surfski camp next spring. Stay tuned for program later this year.
Don´t forget the exclusive crowdsourced Sean Rice interview that will be featured on surfskipaddling.com next Friday!