Women Boaters Discussion Group - Page 6

  Virginia on an afternoon paddle at Spring Valley Reservoir, ID
Virginia on an afternoon paddle at Spring Valley Reservoir, ID ©David Blue

Then there's the PFD. I actually bought a PFD before I bought a boat because the rental PFDs fit so poorly. Again, IMHO most of the "women's" PFDs aren't really designed to fit women w/ the higher cup sizes. So for me, I could care less what color the gear is. Well, I'd prefer to have a more visible yellow or orange PFD, but I have the baby blue Stohlquist BetSea 'cause that's the color my local kayak/canoe shop had. My concern is fit - I'll take most any color (grudgingly if it were pink, I'll admit) it the gear fits. I wish there were a few more options for me.

As far as M vs F guides or teachers - if I had a choice, I'd MUCH rather go w/ a F guide/teacher. My prejudice is that the M will act the way some of the panel described - being all macho and pushing to get there and do it and make the miles or the trip or whatever, even if it might be in the better interest of the group as a whole to back off and take a second think and maybe revise the plan. I'm in the camp who think that using tethers/tows as group management tools is good sense (as opposed to those who would save using a tether/tow as a device of last resort)

In a class, I also need to really process the info. I need to see a new technique more than once and have it explained more than once before I'm ready to make an attempt. The very first intro to kayaking class we took was taught by a woman; the other classes I've had were taught my men. So far, all the classes I've been in I've been in w/ my husband who grew up messing about on the water in rowboats and small sailboats (so he reads the water and the current and the wind very well) and who is very good and patient (usually) about explaining stuff to me so I get it. I'm thinking about taking a women's only class, but I'd miss having my husband there!

Interesting discussion.

Keli: Win, thank you for writing us in regards to the women's boating discussion group we held. We wanted to start some dialog for women, regarding their boating experiences. We've had some really positive feedback so far and look forward to some more dialog from our readers.

We feel it's important to inform manufacturers of products that you feel are missing from a line in order for you to engage in a certain activity. We appreciate you voicing your concern for items you feel are missing within paddlesports. This helps us in our research and development (R&D) of improving and creating new products. I also encourage you to write boat manufacturers as well as boating forums to reach wider audiences. If the industry as a whole starts to see or feel a demand, more products across the lines will increase.

NRS has expanded our entire women's line in response to our consumer's requests. We have also included some larger fitting pieces in our women's splash jackets and in our new Venus Women's Wetsuit. I have noted your comments, including the PFDs, and have passed this information on to our R&D department.

I'm glad to hear that your husband is a great teacher and has patience most of the time. Someone with the background on understanding water conditions and wind is invaluable. Perhaps you could find a local paddling group that has women, so you could share and learn from one another, while still boating with your husband.

Again, thank you for taking the time to reply to us, and we look forward to continuing these discussions with our readers and customers.

Rebecca – Australia:
Wow, I just finished reading your forum and it was great!!!!!! I am a beginner paddler in the Snowy Mountains, Jindabyne, NSW, Australia!!! And only on rare occasions do I get to paddle with another female. I am generally paddling with anything from 1 to 5 guys, most of them very experienced paddlers, but a few beginners as well. I nearly always paddle with my boyfriend, who is my main source of teaching.

All of the things you were saying about girls learning differently and applying our skills differently – second guessing ourselves when we make a mistake – really rings home with me.

The guys I paddle with just don’t experience it, even the beginner paddlers, if they make a mistake they don’t seem to question it too much, they just get on with running the next rapid. I have identified this with myself, but it’s really nice to know that there are lots of other women paddlers out there who do the same thing.
It’s just so refreshing to read a discussion about paddling and it’s all women talking. The guys I paddle with are all very encouraging and do their bit to help me out, make me feel more comfortable, but I guess at the end of the day – I have to have confidence in my ability and my judgment.

Thanks again for putting this forum up on your website – I think I’m gushing a bit, but I just really loved it, got a lot out of it.

Keli: Thank you for sending us feedback about our Women Boating Discussion. We had a fun time participating in it and I think we all learned quite a bit from one another. We wanted to open this dialog to a larger audience and have our readers and customers share their experiences as well, so thank you. Keep up your confidence and ability in your own judgment and drop us an e-mail anytime, we love to hear from our paddlers.

Laney – Colorado:
I love that you offer this – I am a new rafter and I am learning that I have to row differently than the men in the group – more pulling and less pushing.

Keli: Thanks for taking the time to let us know how much you enjoyed this forum. We will continue to try to offer more discussions like this so we can continue learning from one another.

I'm a rower myself, and "more pulling and less pushing" is a great lesson and one that will be invaluable should you find yourself in a position where all your strength is needed. This means positioning your boat at opposite angles of those around you who use the "push" technique for maneuvering around curving rapids. This can be confusing at first to say the least, when you are trying to follow other people’s lines.

Another valuable lesson I learned from a great male rower who works here at NRS is "work with the water, not against it." This has come to mind often, especially when I've been stuck against some rocks or trying to move away from hazards in the river. I watch and feel how the water is moving against the boat and use its strength to help me maneuver off or away from something.

Learning to read water myself has given me more confidence to run rapids, should I find myself in the lead. This seems to be a never-ending learning process that is just one small part of my enjoyment running rivers.

Aileen – N. Carolina:
Hi everyone, Great discussion! I've been rafting for 7 years and have been a part-time guide for 4. I have a male friend who learned to guide at the same time I did. While I always had fun rafting with him--he would always take a hairy line--and I trusted him to get me back in the boat quickly if he dumped me out, I did notice some not-so-subtle differences in the way we guided. Rarely would he take the time to teach his crew the finer points of paddling; if they couldn't manage to respond quickly to his commands (if he even gave them), he just cranked on the guide stick and made the boat go where he wanted it to go. There's no way I could do that, so I spent a lot of time with my crew, gently correcting paddling technique and enthusiastically encouraging someone when they got it right. I relied on my crew to help me position the boat. There's a definite advantage to the finesse over strength method: While my friend was whipped after a day of guiding, I still felt pretty good!!

Somewhat random thought: I try not to be overly sensitive to words people use, but I do wonder whether the use of the word "girl" to refer to females over the age of 16 or so (and I know, it's such an arbitrary thing to decide when one becomes a woman) does us more harm than good? I've said "You go, girl!" on many occasions, but when my father refers to 30-year-old women as "girls" it grates on my nerves. I'd love to hear or read a discussion about this!

Lastly, I'm not a big fan of pink, but if it's a big seller, who can argue? I would like to see more choices than the ubiquitous pink, purple, and powder blue, though.

Keli: Thank you for being a part of our discussion on Women and Boating. We appreciate hearing our boater's experiences and sharing them.

There definitely seems to be strong agreement for feeling that women use more finesse while many men power-through much of their boating. Talking about different techniques people use is great for helping us better understand one another on the river. In my experience, I've definitely seen both. I row myself and I have realized through this discussion that I have unconsciously gravitated towards boating near men that use more finesse than strength.

Currently, I'm still pondering your thoughts on the use of the word "girl" throughout our discussion. As someone who has studied a bit of linguistics and feminist thought, I can appreciate how the use of particular words in either verbal or written language can have an effect on the audience. I'm not sure if this is the right avenue for what could be an interesting philosophical debate, but I'm glad you brought it to our attention. At 30 years old, there are definitely times I wouldn't want to be called a girl and others times it wouldn't bother me at all. I'm sure the other women that participated in this discussion will be pondering it as well.

You mentioned that you're not a big fan of pink, what colors would you like to see in women's boating gear?

Aileen: Last night after I emailed the group, I flipped through the NRS catalog that's been laying around and saw a few women's items in red, orange, and/or yellow. Those are my top color choices. Incidentally, while I was perusing the catalog and commenting on the colors, my boyfriend said something along the lines of "you can wear a men's small, can't you?" I had to explain the differences in cut, and while I'm not overly curvy, I still prefer something that's cut more for a woman's torso. (And, I also had to explain that, no, I can't always wear a men's small, though an extra small might work.)

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