What is your job and briefly what does it involve?
I’m a university professor at Swansea University. My research is on glacier and ice sheet dynamics and their impact on sea level (so I spend lots of time in remote camps and small boats in the Arctic and Antarctic). I also teach undergraduates and do university admin – for those in the know I was responsible for Impact in Swansea’s REF return (and if you don’t understand that bit be grateful!).
Enthusiastic. Tenacious. Unconventional.
(Although I usually just describe myself as the midget in the Norwegian sweater).
Bara brith, Verdi’s coffee ice cream, pizza at Dylan’s after paddling :)
What does sea kayaking offer?
Adventure. Exploration. Freedom. Challenge. Friendships.
Why Coastal Spirit?
Because Roger has fundamentally changed all aspects of my paddling.
Roger sees your potential rather than your current limitations, and he doesn’t categorize you. This means that there are no excuses: if you want to improve it’s just a question of time, purposeful practice, and effort.
Roger’s prepared to tell you what you aren’t good at. This can be really powerful. One example (from several) within my own paddling was the first time I was coached by Roger, when he told me this was the case with my leadership on the Menai Straits. It was my first time on “moving water”. A foray into white water and slalom working towards 4* ww (which was also brilliant fun!) means I now view moving water as one of the real strengths of my sea paddling.
In April-May 2015 I paddled the Roof of Britain with Roger on one of his Rapid Development eXpeditions (RDX). Roger is the only coach who offers big (real) expeditions like this. Preparing for the RDX was quite hard both physically and mentally, but it was fascinating how much I learnt and how quickly and obviously both my paddling and my stamina improved. Roger was amazingly good at keeping me focussed and motivated during those weeks! The expedition itself was a totally fantastic experience (have a look at the blogs and if you are considering it – do it!).
After the expedition I felt my paddling had gained an extra dimension. I feel I am now looking over a whole new vista of exciting possibility and potential, and I’m starting to explore that. This has included solo paddling, longer self-supported trips, and open crossings. Roger’s been great at supporting / mentoring me in some of these new exploits, especially he’s answered lots of questions! Highlights of this summer so far have included my first real open crossing to Lundy solo, paddling Land’s End as part of a longer trip with others, and the Needles.
What’s next sea paddling wise?
Bigger trips, solo trips, night crossings, longer crossings… I’m waiting for the tides and the weather to coincide for the Scilly’s crossing solo… I’m preparing for my first night crossing… Next May I want to paddle around Skye, (This Tavi achieved April 2016) and for the following year I have bigger plans… Sometime I’d like to paddle somewhere warm, and maybe sometime I’ll mix work with pleasure and paddle with icebergs and polar bears…
I’m working towards 5*, and this means I’m concentrating on roughwater rescues, rolling and surfing bigger waves. As part of that I’m really looking forward to paddling some tideraces in Brittany and spending some time surfing in Cornwall. And if I do achieve 5* it’ll be something that until recently I thought would be impossible.
I also have a list from the 'Roof of Britain' exped… I’m working on it, honestly! ;)
Words that sum up your time with Coastal Spirit.
Empowerment. Challenge. Inspiration. Support. Learning.
Update - Tavi passed the coveted 5 star leader award May 2016 and later on she passed the level 2 coach. October 2016, Tavi also worked her first sea kayak festival in Pembroke and it was great to see her part of the team and community of coaches and leaders. Currently Tavi is planning to paddle around Ireland 2017, with a couple of other paddlers.
"There are a number of wonderful things about Roger. He has a very light touch in his coaching, and he's always smiling and encouraging you to relax into the enjoyment of the day"
"And I'm probably learning more from his mentoring now, as my paddling horizons expand, than ever before. I can't count how many questions I've asked... and he's answered. Roger has the knack of making that suggestion that radically changes your thinking and moves your paddling on in leaps and bounds."
"I've just completed a two day 4* Sea kayak training course with Roger. Having been coached by Roger in the past, I choose to do this course with Roger because I knew I would get a great deal from the course. My expectations were certainly well and truly met"