For us, 2014 started out with a bang in Tybee Island Georgia and 5 days of instruction with Ben Lawry.
We have worked with Ben Lawry in the past, and we were looking forward to another fantastic session with this fantastic coach in his natural habitat. Some of the participants have worked with him before, in the Midwest and on the ocean, so we were all amped to see what one of our favorite coaches would cook up for us this time. In all, the group of six was a great number for two main reasons: there was plenty of individualized attention and we could break out in pairs.
It’s always nice to break away from the Minnesota cold in the dead of winter and escape to the warmer climates of the south. This year, the escape was even more needed with record cold temps. To make the escape even more challenging, we ordered a new trailer to haul boats on. The shelter provided in our garage was little escape from the cold as we assembled the five boxes to become a trailer.
Travelling through Illinois was a mess: with a recently passed ice storm, we counted more than 50 trucks in the ditch and hoped we wouldn’t join them.
Originally, a few of us went ahead of the group to do a little extra paddling to Sapelo and BlackBeard Island. The weather, however had different ideas for us and we altered to head to Tybee for more protected paddling and establish camp in one of the fantastic rental homes.
When the full compliment of participants were assembled, the weather was studied; this is an ongoing process to establish the events of the week. It became evident that the weather for the week was going to be unusually calm and there would only be enough time at the end of the first day for a short evening surfing session. We did a few things in the beginning of the day and had a late lunch. Our afternoon paddle went well into dusk, knowing the weather was going to turn flat in that regard for the rest of the week. Joyously, we tied our boats to the trailer in the dark, relishing in the joy of the evening’s surf session.
Personal goals which were established at the beginning of the week were checked off as the week went on. Summaries and reviews at the end of each day or the beginning of the next, were crucial to everyone growing and learning.
Georgia hadn’t escaped the record cold temps either: recently recovering from the polar vortex that swept the nation, the tourist population was even more sparse than usual. Then another cold front came in and the locals actually had to talk to us to see if we were insane! Being from “Up North” we weren’t phased by the weather and well prepared for what we felt was mild weather.
Never lacking for things to do, we spent the rest of the week working on navigation on back rivers and the larger Savannah River, where the folks new to the effects of tides and currents were amazed at the subtle, yet powerful effect it can have on you. and those with more experience fine tuned their skills or were given special tasks from Ben.
As always, it was a pleasure to work with Ben. His ability to challenge all his students at different levels really speaks to his depth of experience. Based on my own experience, Ben will add a fuller dimension to your paddling skills; his technical competence and ability to convey skills and information is by far, one of the best coaches on the planet.
View the photo galley here: