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September 2009

Highlights from Kayak Academy’s Greenland Rolling Competition

Kayak Academy's Greenland Rolling Competition: Interview with Dubside from Baby Seal Films on Vimeo.

Dash Point Pirate TV caught up with Dubside for a brief interview in the middle of Kayak Academy’s Greenland Rolling Competition at Lake Sammamish on August 23, 2009. Dubside discussed the importance of maintaining tradition by learning the Greenlandic names of the rolls, given the explosive popularity of Greenland Style and its adoption by “mainstream” sea kayaking in the United States.

Dubside also outlined plans for a much bigger competition on Lake Sammamish, based on the National Greenland Kayaking Championship, that will include rope gymnastics, races, rolling, and harpoon throwing. No other country other than Greenland holds a serious traditional kayaking competition, so hopefully Kayak Academy will be able to pull off this very ambitious project. The challenge of traveling and shipping kayaks and gear to Greenland discourages a lot of highly skilled American kayakers from competing in the Greenland games. I’m betting that these people will be crawling out of the woodwork to attend an event like this. When it happens, remember that you read it here first!


Kayaking legend Maligiaq Padilla also judged the event. In addition to teaching skin−on−frame building classes he has been building kayak models during his stay in the Pacific Northwest. Tom Sharp displayed one during the event −− an exquisitely crafted frame carved from yellow cedar, based on Maligiaq’s own racing kayak. It takes Maligiaq about the same amount of time to make one of these models as it does to make a full-size frame. They will sell for just as much, probably even more. Expect to see this work of art featured at the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver, BC. 


Oh, by the way, I guess I should mention that I won the highly coveted Golden Harpoon Head with a score of 165! Competition was stiff, and I was very lucky Warren Williamson didn’t show up (he was busy surfing his Illusion at the tidal race at Skooks). I had practiced norsamik masikkut, kingup apummaatigut, and ikusaannarmik niaqoq/pukusuk patillugu all month, but when the time came I didn’t score with these at all. Having to wear a bulky PFD (for insurance purposes) really hurt me. I think it’s time to get one of those small inflatables! Many thanks to George Gronseth and Barb Sherrill of Kayak Academy, Dubside, Maligiaq, John, KayakGrrl and all the other volunteers who put together such great event!

Quest for the Golden Harpoon Head!


Kayak Academy's "Greenland Week: Instruction with the Masters" is going to wrap up this weekend. George Gronseth and Barb Sherrill have been hosting Dubside, Helen Wilson, and Maligiaq Padilla this week for classes in rolling and paddling technique. There may still be some time to sign up for a last minute class if you are interested. I understand that Maligiaq will be here for another couple weeks or so holding Greenland skin on frame kayak building classes at the Skin Boat School.

One event not to be missed is Greenland Week's final rolling competition on Lake Sammamish State Park, Tibbetts Beach, this Sunday August 23rd between 10 AM and 4 PM. Registration is at 10 AM and the fee is $10. The competition will be judged by Dubside and Maligiaq, and the first prize is one of Maligiaq's golden harpoon head medals! This is one of the actual medals they give away during the National Kayaking Championship in Greenland! These things are so sought-after in Greenland that once an athlete wins one, they never, ever take it off again! (of course, Maligiaq probably personally owns something like 70 of them). 

This competition is likely to draw some highly skilled rollers, so it'll be interesting to see who shows up. It will be fun just to show up and compete. Participants also get a commemorative t-shirt! Contact Kayak Academy for more information.

Now excuse me while I go out and practice my rolls!

Sea Kayaking in Trinidad, California: Sunday Services


This is the scene at Trinidad, California, every Sunday morning: Michael Morris leads a group of paddlers out around Trinidad Head. Everyone passes southbound through the “slot” in Prisoner Rock. They play in the swell along the cliff face beneath the Trinidad lighthouse and then head along the coast. On the way back it is customary to pass through Prisoner Rock the other way. Isn’t it funny how each little paddling tribe has its own traditions? 



The day I was there, there was an 8 ft swell at 10 seconds from the northwest and no wind. Even this late in July the temperature was in the mid 60s. Foggy and overcast. Hey look at me -- I'm using one of those EuroBlades!

A few members of the group launched through the surf at Trinidad State Beach, while the rest of us launched from the protected water on the other side of the headland in the harbor. A shipment of 6 of Sterling Donalson’s Illusions just arrived at Adventure’s Edge the day before, so a few members of the group were taking their kayaks for their maiden voyages.


Probably the most exciting feature in Trinidad is “Smack Wall”. Smack Wall is the cliff that faces northwest, just a little north of the lighthouse on Trinidad Head. I think the idea here is to get as close as you can to it, and when a big wave comes in and rebounds against the wall you can surf it out. Check out my video. That's Helen Wilson in the Greenland skin-on-frame, tuilik and blue helmet, showing off shamelessly for the camera.
Other than sleeping in, I can’t think of a better way to spend Sunday morning!

Trinidad Head from Baby Seal Films on Vimeo.