bernard zero to hero

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So a few years ago we ran a video comp by the same name, during those videos were a mix of freestyle and whitewater kayaking vids from a selection of Irish paddlers, showcasing the fun and enjoyment they had on the water, but over the past few years some of these paddlers are still pushing hard while others may have fallen from the horse,

some see kayaking as a young mans game but with paddlers like Eric EJ Jackson still paddling and competing at the top of his game at a tender 50 years old and closer to home Confident paddlers like Bernard Walsh a late starter in the kayak game but still loving every second and really pushing his own ability,

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So why do we paddle?

People can paddle for many different reasons whether as a child pushed into a kids camp where they will learn the basics or joining a club set up to offer development training to bring along their skills, Or an adult who wants to try something new and exciting kayaking is a game for everyone without prejudice.

But the real question always unfold in how to hang onto new members, to hang onto these people you must first understand their motivations for participating,

was it

-to make friends

– to learn a new skill



– lose weight

– peer pressure

– relationship


– Parent Pressure

the options are almost unlimited, as a guide the majority of people participate in outdoor recreation for a couple of key reasons

Enjoyment/fun People do things because they enjoy it!

and because friends participate by paddling with peers and friends it can only help you have a better time on the water.

with this in mind the way to hang onto people is to offer fun sessions and get people talking to each other.


I personally paddle almost every day and I paddle for very much the same reasons, I enjoy being out on the water, if im not enjoying it I shouldn’t be their. and for friends I have a lot of friends who paddle and I met most of them by paddling, its a social sport being able to bounce off each other and trust in each other to help you out when the time comes, whether its the drive out to a river, surf or a playspot travel with friends makes the drive much more enjoyable.and by chatting after the session of monster swims epic rides or just enjoying a great day chat about the day and see how everyone felt, when everything goes right that warm feeling inside is unbeatable, when things go wrong you have people their to look upto and who can help you improve.

Paddling every day takes its toll on both the body and your mental capacity,

Your body needs days off by pushing too hard you will be tired, once tired you are prone to the occasional silly mistake which will probably leave you upside down. Variety is the spice of life shorter sessions in a variety of different disciplines / boats or conditions will keep things fresh whilst being able to transfer skill across the board,

Every good paddler can hop into any boat whether a K1 or a Freestyle boat, They wont be the best but the other skills they know will transfer giving them a good initial level of ability.

With the light evenings arriving its really time to get out in the boat as a beginner its time to find a course or a club as an instructor you need to lose the bad habits ready to teach all the newbies and as a paddler its time to get out and enjoy the water once again.

So before you head out just take a second a think why you paddle and look at what you can achieve. Smile