Breede extends Nurture A Novice programme

As the Western Cape canoeing season revels in the full rivers across the province, the Breede River Canoe Marathon on 7 and 8 September has opted to continue its novel ‘Nurture a Novice’ programme aimed at introducing new paddlers to the pleasures of paddling in a double canoe.

It was started last year to allow experienced paddlers to invite a novice paddler in their first season to enjoy the two days of river marathon paddling through the Breede valley .

“We won’t ever compromise the safety of any paddler that takes part in the race,” said race committee head Richard Allen. “The beauty of the Nurture a Novice programme is that it allows a novice to enjoy a great race like the Breede confident in the company of a skilled river paddler.”

Canoeing South Africa requires new paddlers to pass a Basic Proficiency Test before earning C, B and A River rating as they gain experience on rivers of increasing technical difficulty. The Breede is a B rated river.

“There is an existing rule that allows a novice paddler with a CR rating to enter the Breede in a K2 with an AR rated paddler,” explained Allen.

“What the Breede has done is to take this initiative a few steps further.  We help locate experienced paddlers to take novices down their first Breede, and all the novices that qualify for this programme paddle for free.

“That’s our way to try and give a newcomer a taste of the awesome experience of paddling this section of the Breede, confident that once you have done this you will be hooked!” he said.

Allen added that pairing a novice with a seasoned K2 paddler not only ensures the novice is in safe hands but also aids the river skills learning process.

“The subtleties of river paddling come with experience,” he pointed out. “These include reading the river currents and eddies, choosing lines into rapids, handling trees and other obstacles, to learning to shoot the various kinds of weirs confidently.

“Sitting behind a skilled paddler on a race like the Breede will offer a novice a fantastic opportunity to learn a great deal about river craft, which hopefully they will be able to put into practice as their paddling careers progress,” he added.

To qualify for the Nurture a Novice programme the novice must be a paddler registered with Canoeing South Africa for the first time in the current season, and must have passed the Basic Proficiency Test.

They need to enter with an experienced paddler with an AR River Rating, and comply with all the race’s normal safety and proficiency requirements.

Normal entries close at midnight on Friday 23rd August 2019.