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A great day out at the races after lockdown

The sun was shining and my friend and fellow coach Zoe Robinson was free, so it was an ideal opportunity to go out on the sea in good company after the Covid lockdown. It was the first time since lockdown for us both to go out on the open sea in more challenging conditions; so we were cautious and were aware that we were going to be rusty but keen to go out and have some fun.

I met Zoe on an advanced training course a few years ago, since then we have undertaken some of our coach training together and paddled together socially. We are both aware of each others’ abilities and have practised rescues together on many occasions, so I knew I we were a competent duo.

We eased ourselves in by exploring the spectacular cliffs near Porth Dafarch chatting and catching up about life and lockdown. We each did a roll on the way ... yes they do still work! Then at ‘Mini Mawr’ (which means mini big!!) we took the opportunity to spend time kayaking in the waves and test our rolls again. All good. The cormorant sat on the rock looked like it was on sentinel duty ... I realised how much I have missed seeing these great birds that hang their wings out to dry... and wondered what it made of the kayakers return.

As we went round the corner we saw the white waves of Penrhyn Mawr and so proceeded cautiously knowing that we hadn’t been out in these conditions for months. Only committing to going into the race when we were both satisfied it would be ok. Did you know? ... these islands are called Ynysoedd Y Ffrydiau which means islands of the streams.

Once in the race, I was aware that I didn’t have my usual confidence. I was a bit tense and I was at the mercy of the conflicting waves and the power of the tidal flow, I didn’t feel like I had power or finesse. I recalled that the last time I had been there with Zoe and some others; we had been confident playing in the flow, both in and out of the kayak and when it was a bit calmer I had even tried to stand up in my kayak (not successfully I might add .. note to self ... practice that trick more but in a sheltered area first!). I just didn’t feel in the groove.

We liked the look of the outer race so headed over to it. As I crossed the eddy line it grabbed a bit more than I had anticipated .. the critical self in me vilified my lack of precision judgement .. the kindness in me said i should be easy on myself as I was out of practice.

Eventually, after spending some time in the waves, the song

‘It’s all coming back to me now’

came into my head; my confidence grew and I settled into the conditions. I picked up a wave and surged forward .. I relaxed and felt at home .. Back in the saddle! :)

Not long after this, while pausing to admire the stunning views of Snowdonia and the hills of the Llŷn Peninsula, a big wave hit my kayak ... a reminder that it was not the place to relax ... back in the saddle or not! During a pause in an eddy I saw a tern dive vertically into the water then emerge and fly off. A sight I had not seen for a long time .. it brought sadness that I have missed out on enjoying a whole nesting season from the sea.