A recent conversation with a parent has highlighted to the club committee that some confusion may exist, particularly with non-paddling parents, in differentiating between club sponsored trips and those trips organised between individual paddlers.
A club trip will be led or involve a club coach who has achieved the necessary Canoe England qualification and remit to lead a group of paddlers on a moving water trip of a certain grade of hazard, they will have assessed the risks involved, the level of water (the grade may vary depending on level) and the capability of the junior in question. Obviously we must stress that despite best endeavours, kayaking is an assumed risk sport and accidents unfortunately can happen.
For the sake of simplicity the club coaches who currently have a remit to lead moving water trips are: - Walter McPhee, Martin Middleton, Antony Pike-Bowyer, Jim Wilson, John Roelich. Trips that are not led by one these individuals and are not highlighted as a “Club Event” on Facebook or the website are not club sponsored trips.
As paddlers skills develop they wish to push boundaries and this is a natural progression, albeit a need that the club cannot always meet, hence groups of friends organising their own trips. It is something that the club understands and supports, however in the case of those under the age 18, the decision and responsibility as to whether a junior participates, is with their parent or guardian.
The following definitions of river grades are from the UK rivers guide book:-
GRADE 1 Moving water, unobstructed and without technical difficulties. There may be small waves and riffles to challenge the paddler.
GRADE 2 Waves, small stoppers and other minor obstructions to avoid. Eddies and cushion waves may be strong.
GRADE 3 Waves, stoppers and technical difficulties are more severe. There may be drops and powerful constrictions. The main distinguishing factor of Grade 3 water is that the paddler will have to follow a recognisable route to avoid obstacles and hazards.
GRADE 4 Severe waves, drops, stoppers and other obstructions. The route is not easily recognisable and will usually require careful inspection from the boat or bank. Grade 4 encompasses a wide range of rivers, from those with pool-drop rapids to those with extended continuous rapids; so there is a huge variation in difficulty. It is common to distinguish easier grade 4 rapids by grading them as 4- and harder rapids as 4+ (or in some cases, 3/4 or 4/5).
GRADE 5 Extremely difficult rapids with precise and technically demanding routes to be followed. Stoppers, currents and waves will be powerful and inspection is essential.
To see examples of these grades go to http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk and choose “Grades” from the main menu.