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SCA Regional Forum

Come and join us at one of the SCA Regional Forums around the country this autumn. The forums are a chance to find out what is going on in the SCA and in your region, and to input. It’s also a chance to meet up with other local paddlers. More details in terms of venues and dates can be found here.

Sue Burns Coaching Fund

This fund was set up in 2015 by Sue Burns before she died in Nov 2015. Sue was one of the longest term members of the club and made a significant contribution to the club by her various roles on the committee and more importantly by being such an inspirational coach over many years. Sue was passionate about paddle sports throughout her life and having lived in the Perth area for so long, was keen to leave a legacy behind to benefit canoeing/kayaking in the local area. In particular, Sue wanted to assist more young people to take part in these sports. Sue decided that the best way of achieving this goal was to support the training of new coaches/river leaders in Perth Canoe Club.

Contributions to this fund have come from Sue, her family and friends and by members of Perth Canoe Club.

  • The fund is administered by representatives from the coaching team and committee.
  • Applications for funding can be made at any time and should be submitted to the club secretary. These will then be considered at the monthly club meeting and applicants informed of a decision.
  • The aim is to provide 50% of overall course costs, although the coaching fund committee can provide additional funding where an individuals finances are limited.
  • The coaching committee will assist applicants to apply for other funding sources, ie from the SCA coaching fund.
  • All trainee coaches/river leaders will also be encouraged to get involved in the Tay Descent, so that they can benefit from a range of free courses provided to volunteers.
  • The focus for any funding will be to assist applicants to undertake any of the following courses: pre requisite training for level 1, 2 and 3 coaching awards, such as First Aid, Foundation Safety & Rescue Training, White-Water Safety & Rescue and 3 star training and assessment. 4 and 5 star training and assessment for river leaders. Attending any workshops or seminars in the process of gaining such qualifications or attending such workshops/seminars to keep coaching qualifications updated.
  • Applicants will need to evidence, through involvement in the club (pool sessions, river trips, club meetings), that they are contributing to coaching/river trip activities in the club.
  • The club are actively supporting members to gain coaching and river leader qualifications, so if you are keen to get involved please speak to one of the active club coaches.

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Awards and Qualifications

There are several nationally recognised British Canoe Union awards and certificates you can work towards.

Detailed information is available from SCA (see www.canoescotland.org) but briefly:

BCU Personal Proficiency Awards

  • Paddlesport Start
  • Paddlepower
  • BCU 1 Star
  • BCU 2 Star
  • BCU 3 Star (Whitewater, Open, Sea, Surf)

These are personal skills proficiency awards.

Paddlesport Start is an encouragement award that candidates should be able to achieve in a basic starter session of about 2 hours on sheltered water.

BCU 1-Star is a basic skills awards. Assessment takes place on flat sheltered water and it is the level people might reach after an introductory course of six hours quality water time. It can be in any type of boat.

The BCU 2-Star is an improvers award and emphasises gaining a breadth of experience. As well as demonstrating knowledge of paddlesports paddlers must show good boat control in a kayak AND a canoe on flat water.

3-Star is a specific to just ONE type of boat (i.e. kayak or canoe) and one environment (e.g. river, sea, surf). It requires paddlers to be competent in moving and unsheltered conditions (e.g. Grade 2(3) rivers for Whitewater kayak, or G2 rivers and Force 2-3 winds for canoe). Successful completion of 3-Star means you can consider yourself an intermediate paddler, proficient to be part of a led group.

Paddlepower covers the same range, but is more modular and is aimed more at children under-14.

BCU Leadership Awards (Whitewater, Open, Sea, Surf)

  • BCU 4 Star
  • BCU 5 Star

4-Star and 5-Star awards are Leadership Qualifications. 4-Star is discipline-specific and certifies a leader is able to lead a group of up to four competent paddlers in moderate water conditions (for whitewater kayaks this is Grade 2(3) rivers). 5-Star certifies a leader has the personal, leadership, and safety skills to lead groups in discipline specific advanced environments (above Grade 3).

BCU Safety Awards

  • Foundation Safety & Rescue Training (FSRT)
  • White Water Safety & Rescue Training (WWSRT)

FSRT is designed for all paddlers irrespective of craft. The objective is to teach simple and safe skills that can be applied in a sheltered water environment appropriately in both kayaks AND canoes. WWSRT is for paddlers operating in moderate to advanced water in either kayak or canoe. It is required for those seeking their 4 star leader (white water or open canoe) award.

UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Paddlesports Awards

  • UKCC Level 1
  • UKCC Level 2
  • UKCC Level 3

These are Nationally recognised coaching awards and enable coaches to teach and coach paddlesports.

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Environment Definitions

When Leading and Coaching groups, things like wind, exposure, tides, and evacuation routes become important. The BCU describes Coaching and Leading environments as:

Inland water
Very Sheltered Quiet canals, small lochs, specified sites on gentle slow-moving rivers. At no point will paddlers be more than 50m offshore and sites have easy access to/from the bank and must be safe even if the weather changes (e.g. to an off-shore wind).
Sheltered Ungraded rivers, faster flowing, but not including weirs or rapids. Lochs, but no more than 200m offshore and in wind less than F3.
Discretion and common sense apply. Paddling in an offshore breeze, even close to shore, requires caution.
Moderate Large areas of open water that exceed the Sheltered Inland water definition, but no more than 500 metres off shore and in wind strengths that do not exceed F4.
White Water
Moderate Grade 2 white water or equivalent weirs for canoe. Grade 2(3) for white-water kayaks
Advanced Grade 3 white water for canoe. Grade 4(5) for whitewater kayaks
Tidal water/Sea

Small enclosed bays/harbours with no possibility of being blown offshore. Specific beaches with easy landing, no tide races or overfalls. Winds not above F3 (F2 if offshore when great caution must be exercised).
In all cases the wind and weather conditions must be favourable.

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Equipment and Clothing

It isn't necessary to buy lots of expensive equipment just to try out paddle-sports and the club may be able to supply the basics in the early stages. If you decide to carry on in the sport, you can ask instructors and experienced paddlers for advice, try out other peoples' kit, and buy your own equipment bit by bit.

Many of the items listed below are only suggestions. Much depends on the season, the weather, and the paddling you intend to do (as well as training and personal preference for more experienced paddlers).

If you have any questions on what to bring please speak to an instructor. They will be delighted to advise.

1. What to bring to “Taster” or Beginners' Sessions

  • Swimsuit/trunks
  • Old Trainers (either slip-on or Velcro, but preferably NOT lace-ups) or Water shoes / Wetsuit boots if you have them
  • Synthetic T-shirt or close-fitting long sleeved top (e.g. walking base layer, football shirt, or light fleece) but NOT cotton as this is very cold when wet.
  • Lightweight cagoule
  • Tracksuit bottoms or waterproof trousers
  • Towel
  • Warm clothes to change into
  • If you wear glasses, bring a safety cord. They don't float!
  • An everyday splash-proof cagoule is fine for summer and general paddling where you are not expected to spend much time immersed in the water.

In colder weather, you may wish to add

  • Socks (again, NOT cotton; preferably wool)
  • Lightweight fleece top

If you use any essential medication (e.g. inhaler, Epi-pen, glucose) carry it in a waterproof pouch secured to your person. Ensure your group leader knows about it and where to find it in an emergency.

2. A Beginner's Kitlist

For summer paddling:

  • Swimsuit/trunks
  • Close-fitting base layer top
  • Summer weight "Shorty" or "Long-john" wetsuit
  • Dry or semi-dry cagoule
  • Buoyancy Aid (a.k.a. Personal Floatation Device or "PFD")
  • Wetsuit shoes/boots or river boots
  • Helmet
  • Spraydeck
  • Paddle
  • Kayak

Semi-dry cagoule is a splash-proof paddling jacket that keeps some water out and helps keep you warm. A Dry cagoule is a specialist jacket with tight waterproof seals at the neck, waist, and wrists stopping water getting in.

It is always good idea to bring or carry:

  • Drinking Water
  • Carbohydrate rich snacks
  • Thermos Flask & packed lunch (depending on weather and trip duration)

For winter paddling, consider adding:

  • Neoprene skull cap
  • Neoprene socks
  • Full length wetsuit
  • Watersport gloves or "Pogies" (special mitts that attach to the paddle shaft)

3. Suggested Intermediate/Advanced Kitlist

As above, and consider:

  • PFD with a Rescue Harness
  • Whistle
  • Throwline
  • Knife
  • Towline and/or Webbing Sling
  • First Aid Kit (including Exposure bag and Space Blanket)
  • Head Torch
  • Mobile Phone
  • Pin Kit (Karabiners / Prussiks / Slings / Pulleys)

4. Suggested Group/Expedition Kitlist (especially if paddling in remote/inaccessible areas)

In addition to your personal kit, distributed among the group, consider carrying

  • Split Paddle(s)
  • Group Emergency Shelter
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Dry Clothes (big enough to fit the largest group member!)
  • Waterproofs
  • Repair Kit (e.g. duct tape, plastic patch, electrical tape, needle & thread, spare foot-brace bolts)
  • Multi-tool and common Hex (Allen) keys
  • OS Map
  • Food
  • Fire Kit
  • Bank Rescue Rope

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River Grades

These are summaries of the definitions used to describe the character or “grade” of rivers. See also Environment Definitions

Grade 0 Ungraded Anything below Grade 1 – essentially flat or barely moving water
Grade 1 Easy Moving water with occasional small rapids and few or no obstacles to negotiate
Grade 2 Moderate Small rapids featuring regular waves. Some manoeuvring may be required but easy to navigate
Grade 3 Difficult Rapids with irregular waves and hazards to be avoided. Manoeuvring will be required but routes are fairly obvious
Grade 4 Very difficult Large rapids and dangerous hazards. Scouting from the shore is often necessary and rescue is usually difficult. In the event of a mishap there is significant risk of equipment loss or injury
Grade 5 Extremely difficult Long and/or very violent seriously hazardous rapids. Continuous, powerful, confused water. Scouting from the shore is essential. Rescue is very difficult or impossible and in the event of a mishap there is significant hazard to life
Grade 6 Dangerous Cannot be undertaken without serious risk to life
Grade 2 (3) Mixed (Moderate) Overall a grade 2, but there may be a few (normally one or two) grade 3 rapids that can be portaged.
Grade 4 (5) Mixed (Very difficult) Overall a grade 4, but there may be a few (normally one or two) grade 5 rapids that can be portaged

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River Level Data

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) monitors water levels in our rivers. The Scottish Canoe Association's Where's The Water? shows the 50 or so most popular paddling rivers. Readings are rated "Empty" (for unpaddleable) through to "Huge!" (for spate).

You can access hundreds of other SEPA stations directly using their Map or Text searches.

Many rivers have significant Hydro Electric Power generation schemes. Where's the Water also has information on scheduled HEP dam releases.

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