Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 3

Film-maker and podcaster Simon Willis and kayaking coach Gordon Brown round out their trilogy of kayaking coaching films with their latest offering, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 3. This third chapter differs from the previous two which consisted of an expedition film intertwined with coaching segments. This third volume does away with the expedition segment, and instead presents three films and and a rolling coaching segment.
The first film is on Emergency Situations, and presents two scenarios where emergency personnel have to be called to perform a rescue. Much of this film is presented from the point of view of rescue personnel and I've never seen anything quite like this in a kayaking video. This is a terrific segment, with lots of important tips and information presented. This segment alone is worth the price of admission. For those of us who have been lucky enough to not have needed rescue, it was certainly eye-opening to hear the thoughts of rescue personnel, many of them also kayakers, of what kayakers can do to assist rescuers in emergency situations. Equally informative was a short scene near the end when the rescue personnel displayed their own emergency kayaking kits.
A shorter but related film has a member of the Wilderness Emergency Medical Services Institute display the first aid gear he carries, as well as a couple of demonstrations of first aid situations. Some of the gear displayed is intended only for trained personnel, and a DVD is not going to replace actual first aid certification, but it is interesting to see what gear other people carry and the techniques they use. I'm certainly going to add some electrical tape to our first aid kit after watching this.
In the third film Gordon is joined by Franco Ferrero for a segment on navigation. A DVD is not going to replace a proper sea kayak navigation course, but the information regarding navigation concepts and tides are well-presented here.
Finally, the rolling segment is structured very differently. After a few exercises and roll demonstrations, the premise behind this segment is that the viewer will practice rolling with a spotter, as well as someone with a video-camera who will record the practice session. The viewer will then compare his own videos to the videos on the the DVD, using the troubleshooting section to identify mistakes, and then try to incorporate the fixes suggested. For instance, your roll might be failing, but why? Comparing your video to the common mistakes illustrated on the DVD, you may discover that your paddle is not at the correct angle and is diving down into the water instead of the staying at the service. You move to the fixes section and some tips are provided for you to try on keeping your paddle at surface level. At the risk of repeating myself, no DVD will ever replace having a certified instructor coaching you live and in the flesh, but the approach taken here is unique. Is it effective? We have yet to try it as designed by filming ourselves, but it seems like it should be a benefit to troubleshooting your roll (or lack of it).
This is another winning DVD from Gordon and Simon and, taken as a set, the three Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown DVDs are as comprehensive a set of kayaking video tutorials as you are ever likely to find.

Here's a behind the scenes interview with Simon and Gordon.


  1. Thanks for the review! We will be seeking feedback, particularly on the Rolling Clinic section of the new DVD, because we want to know how well it works for people. Before next summer, I'll email everyone who has bought a DVD through our website with a short questionnaire. There's nothing like our Rolling Clinic out there, and before we shoot an intermediate and advanced clinic, we'd like to know how this one was received.
    Happy paddling

    1. Thank you, Simon, for making these great DVDs and all your great kayaking podcasts!

  2. This was a very watchable kayaking video! So different from the "adventure on the water" we're used to seeing. I found the rolling advice was a good complement to the times I've been playing in a pool and starting to learn to roll. The exercises and the make-your-own video idea are things I will try!
    And most of all, I think we'll do one of our times on the water this year as a mock emergency, and see just how hard it is to go through the motions of a rescue. We already do practise of our wet exits and re-entries, so this will be just a bit more challenging!
    And we're all definitely putting a roll of electrician's tape in the dunk bag!