Saturday, December 15, 2007

Forty years since the telling… from UK before the end of 2007

In 1967 the British Canoe Union (BCU) magazine “Canoeing in Britain” published a Christmas competition with a prize of a copy of each of “Byde’s Books”. (In 1960 Alan Byde had become just the second person to be appointed Senior Canoeing Coach by the BCU. I’d better explain that in Britain a “canoe” was, and sometimes still does refer to both canoe and kayak.) More about Alan later…

In other news from 1967, a number of people expressed dismay and wrote to criticize one prominent sea kayaker, who shall be nameless, (Chris Hare) oops! Returning from an expedition to Greenland where he had hunted from his kayak with Greenlanders, Chris attempted to gain support for the introduction of seal hunting from kayaks in UK… not in the traditional way, but using a rifle, which was by then the usual way in Greenland. (are there any Seals reading this?)

Colin Mortlock, (later to lead the expedition in Norway, 1975, for which the paddle and kayak designed and used for the journey were also named “Nordkapp”), describes paddling Welsh white-water rivers in flood. His descriptions hint of the hands-on experience he applied to his Charlotte Mason College teachers course in "Adventure Education".

In 1967 an advertisement for the sea kayak, the Wessex Sea Rapier, demonstrated its on-land portability by showing it on the roof of a Morris 1,000 (cc) car… a model of car that I remember had little orange direction pointers that swung out from the supports between the side windows to indicate the direction of an intended turn… In 1967, a fiberglass Sea Rapier cost just 37 pounds 15 shillings… With today’s poor US dollar exchange value that’s about 74 dollars…

The magazine columns that year were full of interesting little revelations, such as “A Canadian is not really a sea going canoe”… and that during 1967, by September, two people had passed the Advanced Canadian examination… (...are there any Canadians reading this?) Next… “The Senior coach is on a par with the Gold Medalist, and is a gentleman to be reckoned with” (...any women reading this?) “To all but a rhinoceros it must be obvious that the only place to learn to roll is the swimming baths – in this country anyway.” (...any rhinos reading this?)

Also in 1967...

Hans Klepper died. He was the son of one of the original tailors who produced the first folding Kleppers in 1905 to speed up trips from the mountains. Han was associated with the design of the Klepper Arius in which Dr Hans Lindemann crossed the Atlantic.

Dave Mitchell (now of Mitchell Paddles in USA) won silver medal for slalom kayak in the world championships.

“The first thermoplastic kayak” was displayed at the annual boat show, (Telephone Kelsall 255) and Bude suffered its annual invasion of competitors for the week-long surf kayaking event.

In this context, back to Alan Byde againAlan wrote a great book titled “Living Canoeing” which according to Alan was started in 1967. Published in 1969, it is a classic, with content still valid today. I can see how later writers have likely been influenced by the style of line drawings that illustrate many of the technical aspects, and by the content of the Sea Kayaking sections of the book. This was not Byde’s first, nor last writing achievement, but I consider it his finest. Returning to the photo of Byde upside down in his kayak on his lawn, you can see similar images (in sequence) in my own "Kayaking; a beginner's guide" and "Nigel Foster's Sea Kayaking". (See "roll" and "books")

(Alan signs a copy of "Living Canoeing", March 2007.)

An intelligent, versatile, yet often controversial figure, Byde retired to New Zealand where, this spring, we found him hiding away from his kayak. With the encouragement of local paddlers such as John Kirk Anderson, I gather he has resumed his participation in his sport and is once again "living canoeing". It was a real pleasure to meet up with and him and his wife in New Zealand; someone who has contributed so much to the sport and never lost his love for it.

(For more of 2007 New Zealand...)


Anonymous said...

Hey! Kayaking friend in NZ told me of your web site. I am grateful for your comments. I went paddling in a double in Picton harbour. We set off in easy breeze, ended up paddling vigorously and my transit didn't shift. Force 6 gusts. The old paddling rhythm was still there. Used Inuit skinny blades.

Anonymous said...

Alan Byde's "Living Canoeing" was my favourite books back in the 70's. Thanks for reminding me !