IOPCC Trip Report

Rough Water Training with Paddlecrest Coaching

13th - 14th October 2012

The weekend of 13/14 October 2012 saw 6 IoPCC members heading down to Penzance for a weekend of Rough Water training with Paddlecrest Coaching aka Richard Uren BCU Level 5 Sea Coach. We stayed at the Backpackers Hostel within Penzance YMCA. This provides conveniently located accommodation which is warm, dry, clean and has hot showers. The downside was that on this occasion there was apparently a lot of noise in the early hours of Saturday morning.

On Saturday we launched at Porthgwarra. The first hour was spent paddling out into the tidal race off Pillar Rock at Gwennap Head. This was quite challenging as it was large and moving. We then headed off down the waves with the wind in an easterly direction and headed for Logan Rock. This was quite a scenic stretch and although the sea was quite lively the sun was out making for lovely bright Autumn colours.

When we reached Porthcurno it was obvious that the surf was quite large. The intention was to surf on Pendower Beach but this was going to be quite challenging. Richard went into the beach first and we followed one by one with varying lengths of swim. I think David swam most of the way and was quite exhausted by the time he reached the beach. We had a break for lunch and watched the waves get bigger as the tide flooded over the bar.

After lunch Richard paddled out through the surf making it look quite easy. It wasn’t. I watched as the others made abortive attempts at getting through the surf and ended up being thrown violently up the beach. Tony and John both had long swims in their efforts to get through the aggressive surf. Ian made it through and then I did. Richard went back in to help the others. Tony appeared looking very wet closely followed by John. David managed after another couple of attempts. It was looking as if plan B was going to be put in force (Rich having to tow John’s boat off the beach and John M yomping to Porthcurno where the launch was easier) but eventually after several exhausting efforts John managed to get through the surf and we were able to paddle back round Minack Point. The wind had increased which in turn made the sea rougher. We had a brief play at Pedn-Men-An-Mere off Porth Chapel but it was a bit too sporty to linger for very long and we headed along the coast back to Gwennap Head. We then paddled out the 2 kilometers to the Runnel Stone. We were paddling across the wind and swell which is quite uncomfortable. Although the swell was large it wasn’t breaking, so intimidating but safe. The Runnel Stone (or Rundle Stone) is a hazardous rock pinnacle situated about a mile south of Gwennap Head, that used to show above the surface at low water until a steamship struck it in 1923. A buoy currently marks the position of the Runnel Stone. Until May 2012 it was topped with a flashing light, a bell which peals with the movement of the waves and was also fitted with a whistle set in a tube, which emits a moaning sound when there is a good swell running. This mournful sound got increasingly louder and more eerie as we got closer. It wasn’t a happy place to be and felt quite dark. On 13 May 2012 the buoy was replaced by THV Patricia and the new Cardinal Buoy is bigger – quite huge when sitting next to it!

The wind and tide took us quite a long way East on the return journey to the coast. The wind increased and the salt washed off us by a squally shower. The sea state increased and we were all quite pleased to reach the safety of the little bay of Porthgwarra. Just as the elastic bands became refreshingly slack Richard had us all practicing balancing skills on our kayaks which resulted in plenty of swimming and self rescue practice before landing at Porthgwarra.

In the evening we all met up with Rich and his wife Karen at the Sportsmans Arms in Heamoor for a good meal and plenty of chat.

On Sunday we headed to Carbis Bay. The weather was disappointingly calm and I think Richard was wondering what he was going to do to stretch those elastic bands. His worries were unfounded and a brisk northerly breeze got going and the sea state soon became choppy.

We headed round St Ives to Porthmeor Beach where the surf was perfect for us to practice landing and launching in the surf zone. Some waited for the sets so they could surf the bigger waves and some waited for the sets to go through and landed on the smaller waves. Tony likes big waves!

After a couple of hours playing in the surf we had lunch and headed off to Clodgy Point where there was some moving water and a bit of an overfall. Well it was good and rough and Richard had us manoeuvring in it. Paddling around in circles then paddling backward through it then following him through it close to the rocks then paddling backwards into the roughest bit doing a 360 and paddling out again. All very good practice for improving our paddling skills, balance and confidence.

We paddled back across to the Island and had more practice paddling round Maen Derrens which are offshore rocks. The swell made the water quite noisy and rough around here and we practiced paddling round them getting as close as we could.

We had a brief break on the little beach at St Ives Head and then paddled down the side of the breakwater and had a tour around St Ives Harbour.

We then proceeded along Porthminster beach which has a dumping wave. We were just following Rich very close to the beach when one of those surprise large waves came from nowhere and violently capsized three of us and dumped us unceremoniously up the beach. JC was delighted that I suffered, as so far I had not capsized! He was so delighted he even managed to get a photograph of it!

We had a bit of a play off Porthminster Point. When we were in sight of Carbis Beach we practiced rescues several times as we made our way to the beach. As we got closer we sat on the back decks of the kayaks and rode the surf onto the beach with varying degrees of success. Needless to say we were all very glad to be in dry suits!

This was an excellent weekend training. We were all stretched and I was certainly quite scared at times! Based at Penzance there are many opportunities for varied paddling. Whatever the weather and sea state Richard always seems to take us to the ideal venue to practice our skills and extend our comfort zones. And it was fun! (if rather wet!)

Saturday morning at Porthgwarra Richard
Pillar Rock excitement Heading East
Leaning Gwennap Head The Minack Theatre
Beach debris David swam for a long time
John Christmas Tony, impressive in the surf
John M bouncing his way out again Pedn-men-an-mere
The two John's The Runnel Stone buoy
Ian just bobbing about Richard
John M surfing Clodgy Point
St Ives St Ives
Barbara takes a swim...
at last!!

Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page


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Report: Barbara Hackworthy
Pics: Barbara Hackworthy & John Christmas



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast