The Beacon Sess – Tweaking the team

The Rhoscolyn Beacon Sess.

Last night we took the weekly group session out of the Menai Strait and headed for Rhoscolyn Beacon. The Beacon sessions are always a firm favourite: a change of scenery, different flow patterns and different courses of course. A change is as good as a rest as they say. Though I doubt anybody feels today like it was a rest. We worked hard.

The ‘we’ is important.

To work hard, truly hard, pushing to your limits – you need to be comfortable. You need to be happy with the environment around you. You can’t push really hard when you need to hold something back – ‘just in case’.
So you need to feel safe. We’ve got a good group of skilled and accomplished paddlers now, so it takes the worries away. We can push harder, and push each other upwards.

But for this you also need to to trust the people around you. At times there is some close paddling going on – paddle-interlocking-three-through-the-gap-5m-boats close. You need to know that nobody will do anything stupid, they will give you room (just enough!), and that they know what they are doing. That they have skill. You need to know what to expect and you need trust.

You need to learn a bit about them too, who does what: who goes off hard early, who saves a bit for later, who goes wide on the turns, who turns inside, who has an extra gear, who will break a little earlier, who is firm, who is not quite so, who is confident and who is nervous.

It takes time to build the trust, the skill, the understanding. But our group is forming nicely now, it’s all starting to come together, it’s starting to click.
And for me it’s as much fun to learn how others work as it is about myself.
However you don’t need to learn who is fair and who isn’t. Because the latter don’t get invited back.

And that leads us back to the idea of feeling comfortable as we train. It’s not just the physical stuff, the ethos is that egos are left on the beach too, or further away. Come here to win at all costs, to put others down, to be top-dog, to push and shove, or take the piss then the door’s over there, don’t let it slap you on the bum on the way out. Sayonara.

You need good people.

We are here to train, to learn, to have fun, to improve – no more, no less.

I feel we are doing a pretty good job of that.

by John Willacy