Cautionary tale from an expert

3 years 3 hours ago #37435 by mrcharly

From Ivan Lawler, on preparation and suitable boats.

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2 years 11 months ago #37436 by manta
That is sobering coming from someone with his level of experience and balance.

I liked the mantra that saved his life two strokes brace, simple instructions to follow that incorporate muscle memory to get you back to safety.

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2 years 11 months ago #37437 by mrcharly

I believe that Ivan holds the record for that race, of 8 hours (for 60 miles). That's 12kph. 

Yet even he can be caught out. 

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #37439 by zachhandler
It is nice to finally read the story as told by Ivan himself. When I went to Tarifa in 2015 the first thing Boyan did was tell me that my brace sucked (he was right) and then he made me do paddle-paddle-paddle-brace up and down the beach for about 45 minutes. The wind was up and all I wanted to do was go downwind. I had no idea how central bracing was to surfing, and I was a bit miffed that I was being forced to do some lame beginner drill. Then he told me about Ivan Lawler almost dying on Loch Ness and being saved by that drill. That made me pause. I now understand the importance of the brace, both for fun surfing and safe paddling. Since then every time I help introduce a paddler to the sport I teach them that drill and tell them about Boyan telling me the Ivan Lawler story. I make a point of telling them to practice that drill because it might save their life one day.

There are some other lessons from Ivan's story besides paddle-paddle brace:

Cold water kills. It saps your strength, coordination, dexterity, and cognition faster that you would believe. If Ivan had been further from shore he would not have survived. 

The inherent conflict between dressing for intense activity in the air vs potential immersion in water makes cold weather races exceedingly dangerous. To dress for success in the race you leave yourself almost no margin for error should you end up in the water. Personally I don't think races should be held on lethally cold water because it encourages extreme risk taking. 

Remount has to be rock solid in any conditions and under physical duress. Even expert paddlers are susceptible to poor remounts. If they come from a K1 background they have amazing balance and may have never fallen out of a ski before. Or if they started in ski it may have been so long since they were regularly remounting that the skill has gotten rusty. 

Fatigue kills balance. 

Finally, stable boats are safer, and I think this story is all you need to know about the stability of the original 560.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
Last edit: 2 years 11 months ago by zachhandler.

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2 years 11 months ago #37440 by manta
There is a fair amount of ego in our sport. The ever present drive to be on a skinnier apparently faster ski. 
The question to ask yourself is if things go wrong today in the most epic way possible how prepared am I? 

I did a DW and partially dislocated my shoulder which meant only being able to paddle on one side. I had practiced that as one of the Oscar drills many times but always as a drill to improve stroke, not save my life. The day of the incident the sea was properly rough and the wind was blowing hard. I could not get my phone out of my PFD without capsizing and if I did fall out of the boat I would not have been able to get back in. The only thing I really had in my favour was I was in a barge of a boat (Bluefin) and because it was so stable I was able to paddle side onto waves on only one side.

I am convinced if not for the boat on the day and the drill I had done I would not be writing this post today. 

HOWEVER, we totally need to push ourselves in our sport not everyone should be paddling barges but have enough maturity to know on a given day if you are up to conditions if things go wrong. Have a stable boat (for you), have good technique, have practiced self rescue and have all the phones, radios and apps you can have running. Being prepared is about all we can do.

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  • MCImes
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2 years 11 months ago #37443 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Cautionary tale from an expert
Great write up. Props to Ivan for sharing that. Its hard to share near misses so extra kudos for all who share so we can learn. Scary stuff and a good reminder to be smart with cold weather starting in the north.

Dear Nelo, your boats *might* be too unstable if super-master Ivan Lawler cannot handle it in medium size waves. Having a legend die in your boat would be bad PR mmmkay.

I paddled an old nelo Ocean ski once. Or should I say swam next to an OS for a few minutes. Hopefully the new boats have broken Nelo's K1 mindset and actually made a mid-high level boat with a little stability.

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