Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 ACA Paddlesports Conference Sausalito

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to participate in this years ACA Paddlesports Conference held at Seatrek and the Bay Model in Sausalito California. It was an amazing weekend with lots of paddling opportunities and educational sessions.

I began the weekend by participating in the "Fun Paddle on Sausalito Bay" led by co-owner Galen Licht of Sea Trek. It was an amazing start to a great weekend. The weather was unbelievably warm and water like glass. We spent a couple hours exploring the waterfront with Galen sharing a little history and culture about the area. It was wonderful paddling with so many kayak and SUP enthusiasts from all over the globe.

After the paddle, the Conference welcomed us with words from the ACA executive director and others including Lynn Sadler, Deputy Director of the Division of Boating & Waterways- California State Parks. It was very encouraging to hear Lynn speak of her own paddling experience and how she truly wants to support and encourage paddle sports in our state. The DBW has produced a safety video for ocean and flatwater kayaking, which if you are new to the sport, I recommend watching.

I also attended Friday's educational sessions  "Waves,Wildlife and Wonder of Mendocino" and "Using Skills Routines to Improve Demonstration and Assessments". Cate Hawthorne and Jeff Laxier did the presentation about Mendocino and it persuaded me to put it at the top of my bucket list of places to paddle soon. They own and operate Liquid Fusion Kayak and offer tours and classes for all paddlers.

Saturday was the day I was really looking forward to and it certainly did not disappoint. I took the "Practical Navigation" class with Richard Lee Smith and Peter Donahue. I won't share all the details but I learned quite a bit and was able to put it into practice on the water. We started on land going over basic navigation such as how to read a nautical chart and discussed currents and planned our trip route to Angel Island. On the water, students took turns leading and using ranges to complete each trip segment in a straight line. We crossed Racoon Strait about an hour or so prior to max ebb which was predicted to be a little over 2 knots. We crossed the channel and rested in an eddy behind a buoy before we made our way to the Garrison. During lunch we discussed what we learned and planned our trip back to Sea Trek. We would be crossing Raccoon Strait at maximum ebb and the water was sure to look a lot different than we crossed the first time.

With the large swell coming in through the Golden Gate,
powerboats galore and the ebb flowing at more than 2 knots, the water was anything but calm. The crossing got my heart rate up a little but was fun and challenging to paddle. We all made it safely back to Sea Trek and finished our day reviewing what we learned. Richard and Peter were awesome instructors and I'm so glad I participated in their class.

I finished the weekend with a session on social media and implementing adaptive kayak programs which I found to be very informative. My friend and I couldn't resist another paddle on Richardson Bay so we hit the water and did a bit more exploring. We paddled to the houseboats which are definitely worth checking out. Very eclectic mix of homes on the water. We paddled along the Sausalito waterfront and got to listen to some opera in the park before we headed in. All in all it was a great weekend and you should add Sausalito to your bucket list.

The American Canoe Association is an organization that supports all paddlesports and its' website includes a wealth of information.

Paddle safe!

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