This was on the original 100 list, and for various reasons I never got round to it. But now, hurrah! I have joined the local canoe club, endured my half day ‘start session’, and thus was allowed to attend their swimming pool session: by far the best way to learn skills that involve capsizing repeatedly.
So, off I went, swallowing the indignity of learning my new skill alongside a bunch of 10 year olds, and prepared to take full advantage of the availability of willing coaches. The pool was full, the youngsters were many; the boats were not quite numerous enough to go round, and the coaches were in short supply. It threatened to be a frustrating wait. But, eventually, a large chap called Dave was able to give me some time. I spent a lot of it hanging on the side of the pool upside down and trying to right myself with the critical hip flick.
Dave moved on to assist a youth, but I then caught the attention of the venerable Doug, who I quickly realised was something of a legend in the canoe club. I later discovered he was the very founder of the club. He took charge of me, and relentlessly tipped me upside down for half an hour, at first moving the paddle into correct position for me, then gradually intervening less and less. He had all manner of useful tips. Any protest was answered with an impatient ‘Don’t worry about that. Go on, get on with it.’ And over I’d go again.
By the end of the session I had done 5 rolls under my own steam, and went on my way utterly delighted. I finally understand all the elements that I am supposed to bring together. It would be a whole different thing to do it in a crisis situation, but at least I have mastered the movements and I know what it is supposed to look like.
(2 days later and Dave suggests we sell our kayaks. What!!?? After 10 years trying to enlighten me, it is now me trying to persuade him that we still want to go kayaking. What the f***!?)