Women Boaters Discussion Group - Page 3
Pam Rogers Paddling the Skagit ©Clyde Nicley
Ashley: There are times when you’re at a play spot, and you size up the other girl there. We all need to make a conscious effort to be welcoming to anyone on the river. If you’re in a competition, that’s different. But if you’re just out there to have fun, it should be about having fun and working together so everyone improves in their skills that day.
Keli: I just want to ask a question, because I haven’t experienced the female-to-female competitiveness in the boating world. Is it relational to the men in the group? If it were just the two women boating by themselves, would it be competitive? Do you think that the women are trying to prove themselves to the men and that brings on the woman-to-woman competitiveness?
Ashley: Here’s an experience I had at the last play spot I was on. There was one other girl there. She was a very graceful kayaker, and she was fun to watch. When we first got there I could tell she was a little put-off to see three other girls show up. There wasn’t much communication between the four of us. The guys were kind and considerate for the most part. I think when we first got to the wave, the other girl felt as though she had to prove herself to everyone there, not just us girls but also the guys. As the day rolled on, she became more open and talked to us a little bit. I personally think as women boaters we should try to band together and help each other, not try to outdo each other.
Devon: One of the things to stress about getting women into the sport is lifelong recreation. Women need to build their upper bodies and that’s one thing paddling does for them, to make them more balanced, with stronger bones, and it’s a lifelong sport. Right now I love to paddle freestyle, I love to get thrown in the air and do huge aerial flips, but I always hope that if I can walk to the water, that at 80 I’ll be paddling my rec boat. The sport does promote getting out, into nature and building our upper bodies. So that’s one thing we can promote, that it’s something you can do your whole life and it’s good for your body.
Jenni: This winter, there was a lady kayaking on the Payette River who got her kayak pinned against a rock. It was filmed, it made national news. She did everything right, it was just a freak accident. She’s been paddling for a long time and even though she had a very close call, she said she is going to keep paddling. So, it takes that kind of determination, that if we’re having trouble and frustration learning, to just keep at it and push through the frustration.
Donna: I agree that competition between women is a special problem. I always feel more competitive with other female achievers, whether it’s on a river or at work. I try to be mindful of this and to make an extra effort to be supportive of women on the water.
e-News: When you’re boating with men, what are the things you’d like them to know that can make the experience better?
Jenni: I think it’s important for men to be patient. I don’t know how many trips I’ve been on and people just lose patience, especially with me laughter. I mean, I get frustrated and they get frustrated and it’s cold and people are hungry and everybody just loses patience. So, it’s important that people look at others, especially those they’re trying to teach, whether it be a man or a woman, that if they don’t have the experience, they’re learning as fast as they can. It’s important to be nice so the experience is a good one.
Erin: I suppose this goes along with patience. It’s not a complaint, I’ve never had anyone be impatient with me when it comes to urination, but I have to pee more than anyone in the entire world, especially when I’m cold and wet. So I’m always getting out of my boat to go to the bathroom. And it’s especially true at the top of a rapid when I’ve just got to go. So, patience is very appreciated at those times.
Devon, getting back to women being competitive with other women, what is it like being a competitive kayaker against other women?
Devon: For the most part we have all traveled together so much around the world. I mean you want to beat the other person when you’re competing, but all in all, it’s pretty darn friendly. Once you’re at a pretty high level, there’s 20 of us and any one of us can win on any given day, so generally it’s pretty supportive, people are often giving tips to each other. It does change when the competition starts, I mean, you wouldn’t be saying, “You know that stroke wasn’t exactly perfect on your blunt, so you might want to improve it on your second ride!” But it’s definitely that way in training.
Ashley: The thing I absolutely love about the boating community is that most everyone I meet or talk to is so friendly and willing to help and give advice to new kayakers!
Keli: In regard to talking about safety, with women going out and ‘just doing it,’ it’s good to be determined and gain confidence, but also remember, don’t put yourself in danger. One of my lifelong things is to constantly work on communication with everyone in all situations. Whether it’s about peeing at the top of a rapid as Erin said, or not feeling comfortable about running a rapid or a certain line, vocalize your needs and concerns. Gain the confidence to say what you need to say and assert yourself. If you get backlash for it, say something about it, say ‘I wish you’d support me in this and not try to make me feel bad about it.’
Ashley: I had a boating instance one time down on the Little Salmon River. I’ve never done any kind of creeking before and the river was really low. It was mostly just dodging rocks. At the beginning of the run, where Rapid River meets up with the Little Salmon, I flipped over at the biggest drop there was and hit my head on a rock. It really shook me up! I was very tense and shaking. I was with one other girl and three guys. The reason why I paddle with these people is because they have always been very patient with me, being the new kayaker in the group. This time the guys were being pretty darn impatient which was frustrating and made me feel like I should just get out of my boat and walk back to the truck so I wouldn’t hold them up. Something people need to remember, no matter if you’re a guy or a girl, is to be patient and encouraging to everyone in your group.