The Island’s reputation as a centre of excellence for sea kayaking continues to grow, thanks to another successful Symposium and International Training Weekend.
The annual symposium and training weekend each September is organised by Keirron Tastagh, of St John’s-based Adventurous Experiences, and supported annually by the Steam Packet Company.
The events were first held in 2003 and Keirron says the Island is becoming an increasingly popular destination for sea kayakers.
‘The Isle of Man is seen as one of the very best training locations in the world,’ Keirron explained. ‘It has everything, both at experienced level and for beginners too. Our training weekend is aimed at putting people into challenging sea conditions, and is open to anyone who has some sea kayaking experience. This year we had more than 40 intermediate to advanced kayakers taking part.
‘The week leading up to the training weekend is traditionally our symposium, which this year saw groups from Finland, UK and Germany travel to the Island. The ongoing support from the Steam Packet Company is vital, as they kindly bring over the kayak coaches and their minibus, which is a huge help to us.’
Another sponsor for the symposium and training weekend is Sea Kayaking UK, run by Nigel Dennis, a UK icon in sea kayaking circles.
‘To have someone like Nigel on board with us is fantastic,’ said Keirron. ‘This year we had 12 paddlers complete the BCU (British Canoe Union) 4-star leader course and five complete their 5-star leader course.
‘For our 10th anniversary in 2013, we’re switching things around a little – each year in September there is a big “Dealers Meet” in Anglesey, and for next year they have agreed that on the Friday of the meet they will all come to the Isle of Man, which is a fantastic coup for us.
‘That Friday will then lead straight into our training weekend, and the symposium will then follow the weekend, rather than preceding it. The calibre of groups that will be visiting the Island will only add to the reputation we are gaining as the place to come for sea kayaking. The weekend will be about taking skills courses, and the symposium week will be all about setting personal challenges and putting what you’ve learned into practice.’
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We’ve supported Keirron and the kayaking symposium from the outset and we’re delighted for everyone involved that the event continues to grow and grow in reputation, as does the Island’s reputation as a centre of excellence for sea kayak training.’