Last weekend Evelyn O’Doherty, team rider for Starboard and KIALOA, yoga instructor, and online editor of Standup Journal, made her way to RI to lead a clinic offered through the Kayak Centre in Wickford. Mark and I went to see what tips we could pick up, and we had a really fun morning on the water with some new paddle friends.
Evelyn is a genuinely nice, down to earth person with a very obvious passion for paddling. As is the case with most of the paddling community, she is very approachable and humble and just a pleasure to talk to.
She started us off on land with a brief warm-up to open up our shoulders and get us ready for a couple of hours of paddling in the harbor. While she had a captive audience there she also gave us the overview of what we were going to try to do on the water. It’s always great taking part in as many clinics and educational paddling opportunities as possible. Everyone teaches differently and has different areas of focus. It is nice to be able to take everything you hear, try out all of the little tips and tricks, and assemble the stroke that works best for you.
While there is not only one right way to paddle, there are definitely some wrong ways to paddle if you want to get any power and efficiency out of your stroke and avoid injury.
We spent much of our time out there in the back pond by the launch. It was high tide so we had our run of the harbor, which was nice. We talked about engaging your core, integrating your shoulders with the rest of your body to involve larger muscle groups, and some strategies for dealing with wind and chop. You can tell that Evelyn’s love lies in the challenge of open water and battling the elements. She got charged up each time she talked about it. She was chomping at the bit to get us out into the more open parts of the harbor.
We paddled out past the channels to Cornelius Island where we did encounter some wind, so it was possible to put her tips like using a higher cadence to add stability in conditions, to the test. Most of the class could really feel the difference at this point when they kept their knees bent, engaged those bigger muscle groups and used a cadence that would keep the paddle in the water without huge strokes that could easily throw you off balance if a boat or gust came through.
Evelyn keeps things pretty simple, so it’s easy to follow what she is saying without getting bogged down. As is usually the case, there was a very varied ability range in the clinic, and she dealt with that nicely checking in with everyone and giving help where and when it was needed.
I would love to spend more time paddling with her outside of the break wall where I am sure she really shines. Hopefully they will be able to get her back this fall for more so we can do just that.