The Gales is not a beginner event, but it’s suitable for a wide range of improver/intermediate and advanced paddlers. Above all, we want participants to have fun. If you are not sure, we prefer to offer self-assessment criteria to help you reach your own decision. We have three categories of questions to allow you to self-assess.
Attitudinal, Skills and Equipment Self Assessment.
Below are four categories: Try to find your match (though if you’re somewhere in between, no biggie).
- I get grumpy when I’m cold and wet. I like paddling on inland lakes and slow rivers. I don’t really like to push it; kayaking is about relaxation, not excitement. Bumpy water makes me very nervous. I prefer calm waters and birdwatching to foamy seas whipped with spray.
- I don’t mind venturing out on the Great Lakes when it’s calm. I don’t mind pushing myself a bit, but a steady pace is what I like, not anything too hard. I prefer staying warm and dry, but getting a little wet is OK. I prefer to head for shelter when I see whitecaps, waves or cloudy skies.
- I like some wind waves; they make for a real sea kayaking kind of experience. I am willing to get a little cold and very wet, and I appreciate opportunities to push myself as long as I’m sure I’ll be safe. If it’s cloudy and overcast, that’s OK; I just need to make sure I’ve got food and a warm drink.
- Yee-haw, where’s the NOAA forecast? I hope it’s big! I have two boats loaded and they’re both for surfing! I’ve got a warm drink and snack in the day hatch, and a shelter for lunch. Ahhh, whitecaps as far as the eye can see, that’s what I’m talking about!
After taking this fun assessment, if you answered 3 or 4, or if you feel somewhere between the two, we’ll see you at The Gales!
A couple of basic skills and fitness questions are in order.
- Are you able to brace and are you working on or proficient with a roll?
- Are you fit enough to paddle between 8 and 12 miles in a day at 3 mph?
- Do you possess some basic boat control through the use of sweeps, draws, reverse strokes, and rudders?
- Are you comfortable with basic assisted rescues (as both victim and rescuer) and are you working on or proficient with self-rescues?
If the answer to these questions is “no” or “what are you talking about?” it might be great to get some instruction prior to the event. You can contact any of our sponsors–Downwind Sports, Go Kayak Now! or Have Kayaks Will Travel–for a basic tuneup of these fundamentals prior to The Gales.
While we don’t require you to own all your own gear, it is good to have an idea of what might be required for attendance.
- Paddling-specific lifejacket (PFD)
- Drysuit or at least a full wetsuit
- Neoprene sprayskirt.
- Sea kayak with full perimeter deck lines (not bungies), end toggles and two bulkheads. While we love skin-on-frame kayaks and traditional paddling, true British-style sea kayaks are required for your safety as well as the safety of your fellow participants and the coaches.
- Helmet. We will be working next to rocks in lumpy water; these are not optional.
- Gloves or pogies
- Thermos for hot drink
- Dry bag with warm clothing
- Tow belt for sea with 30′ line and carabiner
- Rescue knife
If you don’t have these items or don’t know what they are or what they are for, probably a good idea to get a lesson set up with Downwind Sports, Have Kayaks Will Travel or Go Kayak Now! for a basic tuneup of these fundamentals prior to signing up.