Moving to Hampshire

Once again I’m about to pack my bag with the few things I own and get on a plane to setup a base in a new location. This time my destination is Hampshire in Southern England where I will be starting a new job next month. It’s not the first time for me to be in this situation, I’ve previously been fortunate to live, work and experience life in Australia, Singapore, Denmark and not to forget my base for the last 12 months, Malta also called “The Rock”.

Its been a blast living on an island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and to enjoy paddling in its waters. This year have been my first year training in flat-water kayaks and surf ski’s, coming from outrigger canoes and dragon boats, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the double bladed paddle and this different water vessel. Anyone that has ever tried an intermediate or advanced level kayak or surf ski knows that it requires a great deal of balance and skill to remain upright and move forward, especially if you try a faster and narrower model. Patience is needed especially for those starting at an adult age which often is the case with surf ski paddling.

During my twelve months of mostly regular practice I’ve used several boats, one slighter faster and narrower then the other. In a somewhat chronological order:

  • Nelo Viper Ski
  • Nelo Viper Kayak
  • Nelo Vintage OceanSki
  • Espada
  • Van Dusen
The Van Dusen upside down outside of the club. It may be old but excellent for those determined to learn and not afraid of falling in a few times before getting it right!

If I can say so myself my skills have progressed steadily to an intermediate level much thanks to some of my training buddies in Malta; Chris, Matthew and the regular group at Malta Canoe Racing Club as well as Surfski Malta.

I’m thankful for the many technique pointers, help and many shared training sessions of the last year. It has helped and made it fun to maintain a decent level of fitness during the year, something which I struggled with in the northern latitudes of Denmark. Knowing that England is also cold I hope that I can maintain my training momentum over the winter, at least I’m determined to keep going in any weather. I’ve been told that it doesn’t snow during the winter close to the sea where I’ll be, that’s a comfort.

A move such as mine requires some planning and the essentials like booking the air ticket, finding an apartment to rent, opening a bank account are of high priority but since I don't want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the English summer with paddling and training activities so I’ve done my preparation and research here as well.

In Malta I’ve been lucky enough to be able to train with a club and borrow a kayak/ski when needed but I realized now is the time to buy equipment of my own. So I set out to look for a second hand surf ski. Luckily Southern England have an active community of paddlers and I started to ask paddlers/shop owners if they have anything that they could sell me. I’ve been in contact with several people and they were all really helpful to a new paddler in the area. As soon as I have time I will arrange to view some of the skis they have for sale.

Robert Bleker at Kudu Kayak

Tim Laws at GB Ocean Ski

Ivan Lawler at Ultimate Kayaks

I’ve also marked down the locations of the last two races of the GB Ocean Ski series on a map with some other points of paddling interest. I’ll try to update with more locations and training routes so check again.

Click on the image to go to Google Maps

While I sign off and get on with paddling and living on English territory it may not be long until I find myself back on the the rocky island of Malta. Dawid Mocke of South Africa and the Mocke brand will be hosting a clinic during 20–23rd August for the local paddlers. The opportunity to learn from a multiple world champion is something I don’t want to miss.

I forgot to mention a few names of the passionate crew in Malta. Thanks to Nicki, Sam. I’ll see you soon again.

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