Club FAQ

What facilities are there?

The club has a selection of kayaks for Members use:

- short whitewater river boats (2–2.5m)               

- general purpose 'Dancers' for the Thames (3.5m)        

- sea kayaks (5m)     

What does the Club do?

The Club paddles everywhere; on the River Thames each week, sea trips all year, white water rivers in the winter season and sometimes surfs. These are from our River Thames base or on trips away. The Club also organises essential weekly pool training sessions for safety training and advanced skills. 

The Club has 90 members with a wide range of ability, ages and interests. Members under 18 are accepted if they join and are accompanied by a parent or guardian in all activities.

Although some members have completed the Devizes - Westminster race we aren't set up as a racing club. However you can get fit with us by joining our regular paddle on the Thames. It is an excellent workout for anyone seeking to get paddle fit and acquire essential skills. 

Can I try paddling before joining?

You can try paddling with us before joining the Club. The first step is to come to a pool session. This is go through the capsize drills and safety procedures in the warm pool environment. If you are experienced then a single pool session will normally suffice. Newcomers generally need 2 or 3 more sessions before paddling on the Thames. You can also meet members and learn what we can offer.

You can attend pool sessions as often as you like, and no prior booking is required.

Kayak hire?

Our kayaks and equipment are only for use in events organised by the Club. Sorry no exceptions. We do not hire our equipment to the public for safety and insurance reasons. They can only be used by paid up Members on Club trips.

How much does it cost?

The Club attempts to keep costs as low as possible. As a guest on the Thames to borrow a kayak, buoyancy aid, spray deck and paddle (worth over £500) costs £5 per session. 

When you become a Member this hire cost is now included in your subscription. All equipment is provided except clothing.

Pool sessions

These are essential for starting out, gaining and maintaining skills.

Held every week - see Pool Session page for details. 

Do I need my own kayak to join?

You won't need one to start with, although most keen paddlers do end up buying their own one. It is recommended though you buy your own paddle as soon as possible to acquire and improve your skills.

Before buying a kayak, do try as many as possible first and in different conditions. The Club has different types, and experienced members who can advise you. Kayaks are provided at the pool and for paddling on the Thames.

What is the difference between canoeing and kayaking?

Canoes are generally paddled kneeling down with a single blade paddle, whereas kayaks are paddled sitting with a double-bladed paddle.

Confusingly we are a canoe club but most of the time use kayaks

Can I store my kayak at the club?

Unfortunately the club has limited space, even for it's own equipment.

We also have an open canoe. These are stored within easy access to the Thames.

The club has paddles, spraydecks, buoyancy aids and safety equipment, as well as kayaks for use in our swimming pool sessions.

Where can I buy kayaking equipment?

For cheap clothing try Decathlon at Wandsworth or Surrey Quays. Fleeces, polyester T-shirts and splash proof tops. 

However for kayaks, paddles and more specialist equipment see our local shop: The White Water Canoe Centre (TWCC) who normally offer a discount for Club Members.

What do I wear kayaking?

All paddling equipment will be provided, except clothes and lights. 

You generally need 3 layers of clothing: -

1. wicking base layer - polyester T-shirt, never cotton 

2. warm mid-layer - polyester fleece, some people use merino wool 

3. waterproof outer layer - anorak or kayak 'cag'. This will keep you dry, and if not needed can be stowed in the back of the kayak.

Initially in warm weather any outdoor clothing can be used, such as for walking, cycling or running. The first of any purchases should be neoprene booties, followed by a paddling 'cag' or anorak.

Cag anorak advice link

Winter paddling. If you intend to paddle all through the winter then paddlers use a either neoprene long john, dry cag & dry trousers or the ultimate Dry Suit.

Extremities!

Heads - a hat is recommended at all times: a warm one for the winter, and a wide brimmed hat or cap to reduce the heat and glare in the summer. 

Hands - in the winter most kayakers use 'pogies' without which they could not paddle. 

Footwear must be worn to the river side and when in the kayak. The shore may contain hazards. The ideal footwear is neoprene surf booties. Old trainers are ok but may not fit in some kayaks. Do not tie the laces as they could catch on the footrests; so just tuck them in. 

Don'ts! 

Cotton clothes should never be worn when paddling. Although cotton may feel warm when dry, it will conduct heat away from you when wet. 

Synthetic fibres are much better at letting the body retain heat, use 'technical' T-shirts made of polyester, or fleece materials.

Do not use the kayaks in bare feet or flip flops'. There is far too much debris and broken glass on the Thames foreshore. 

More information here






Useful to have…

A small dry bag is very useful to have to store a extra layer of clothes, money, hat etc. Fasten it inside the kayak in case of a capsize. An Ortlieb 5 litre size will last for many years

Don't forget change of clothing

Please bring a change of clothing in case you get wet. The changing facilities at the lock-up are basic, so a large towel will help!
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Richard Bate,
30 Nov 2017, 05:00