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February Newsletter 2024

In this issue

  • Trip Report - River Dart

  • Dates for the Diary

  • Call for Coaches and Leaders

  • Topic of the Month: UHCC White Water Safety Procedures

Trip Report - River Dart

Vimto catches up with Team Fanta on the Lower Dart on Saturday (Credit: Jacqui Morgenstein)

Another great Paddlers Party down at the Dart. We had a really big turn out with twenty-one paddlers from the club taking on sections of the Loop and Lower and finishing with coffee and cakes at the Strawberry Fields cafe. We paddled in three groups: Explorer and Award groups being led on the river and a Peer Paddle group. The Explorers had five keen, new to White Water paddlers, with Mark having his first trip to the Lower Dart. The coach put them through their paces breaking in and out and making accurate lines, with three out of the five finishing with dry hair and more confidence for the next white water river. A new coach to our trips, Ollie, led the Award level  group and had them working hard on the Loop, taking on the challenging rapids and winning the line. The Peer group had an entertaining time with new and old paddlers making light of the features and one paddler allowed the rest of the team practice their rope work to pull him out of the final stopper.

The paddlers party was the usual fun of meeting old friends and winning prizes in the raffle. Thank you to South-West Canoes and congratulations on the money raised for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team. The party also brought in a fair amount of rain and unfortunately the led paddlers had to have a day off the water on the Sunday. Peer paddlers had a run on the Loop, having fun riding the big waves and more chunky lines.

That will be a close to the club White Water trips on real rivers for this season. We will be organising trips to the artificial courses and some surf. If we do get some sneaky rain, we will run out and grab the rapids.

Photos from Sonia Harrison and Rich Hartley

Dates for the Diary

Easter Social

1pm Saturday 30th March 2024. The club is organising a club BBQ for family and friends. Please email Kirsten ( if you wish to attend. 

Club Social

7.30 pm Monday 15th April 2024, Cricketers, Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh, SO53 3HN - Catch up and final surf planning

Surf Trip

19th - 21st April 2024 - Luke Shute is bringing enthusiasm to the wave hunters of the club so we have club surf trip now planned. The location will be North Devon to allow the choice of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton at the weekend. We are suggesting people find their own accommodation around Croyde and Saturday night we will visit one of the village pubs. 

Please check your emails or Facebook for the expression of interest form. We have a dozen already signed up.

White Water Development

10th -13th May 2024 - A weekend for getting your White Water Safety training and qualification. We will be using the Dee and Tryweryn as our locations staying in Llangollen as a base. Contact Joe if you want more details.

Darkwater Coaching Courses

For those looking to start their paddle qualification development, there are spaces available at a special club rate with Oliver Taylor-Wood at Darkwater Adventure Coaching:

  • Paddler Sport Rescue Training 4th may 2024

  • Paddle Instructor Award 25th - 26th May 2024

  • Core Coach 15th - 16th June 2024 



15th May 2024 - Swaythling Workings Man Club. All members are welcome to join us - meet the committee, hear about UHCC activites over the past year and have an opportunity to vote or even stand for a role on the committee

Round Ireland by Sea Kayak – Talk from Mike Conroy

19:30 - 21:00 Thursday 21st May 2024 - Netley Marsh Community Hall, Woodlands Road, Woodlands, Southampton SO40 7GE

This is a chance to hear Mike Conroy describe his spectacular trip around the Irish Coastline by Sea Kayak last year. Mike has travelled all the way from Newquay in Cornwall to give this talk for the first time to New Forest club members.  He is hoping to then take it to other venues around the country as part of a charity fund-raising campaign. The talk will last for an hour or so and is completely free to attend, but Mike has asked if he can put out a collection box for donations to his chosen charity. You are welcome to bring friends and relatives and also to bring snacks and drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). We'll provide tea and coffee.

If you are interested in coming, please contact Justin Davis

Upper Wye Tour

23rd - 26th May 2024 - A couple day trip down the Wye taking in the scenery and joys of canoe camping.

Medway Circuit

5th - 7th July 2024 - Revisit to an old favourite paddle tour in the garden of England a paddle tour and couple of weirs to spice it up a little.

Symonds Yat

20th - 22nd September 2024 - The club standard: some touring and some introduction to White Water on Symonds Yat.

Call for Coaches and Leaders

As the club gets more successful and active, we will need to have more coaches and leaders. I am contacting all those listed as coaches and leaders at the club at the moment to check whether they are still able to lend their support. At the end of the month we will putting out a call to the wider club for those interested in developing Coaching and leading skills.

There's a lot of information here as the club is getting busy. Apologies for the fact that I am having trouble with the club calendar, so most of this is not on the club calendar website at the moment.

Happy Paddling.


Topic of the Month - UHCC White Water Safety Procedures 

The club trips closely follow the advice and guidance from Paddle UK on effective safety procedures for running a river trip. These are detailed as follows. 

  • Ensure club trips there is a clear structure of river leadership and arrangement of groups to promote safety.

  • A river briefing to be held before starting water based activity. To ensure roles, grouping and protocols are clearly communicated.

  • On the water follow the principle of CLAP- Communication, Line of Sight, Avoidance, Position is followed

  • Keep It Short and Simple (KISS)

  • Debrief at the end to learn to be better

Principles of Safety Structure


Ensure the trip participants are appropriate for the trip in relation to the experience of individuals and the coach/Leader ratios. Appropriate details taken in advance such as emergency contacts and pre-existing medical conditions.


Me- Coaches/Leaders explain who they are and their role

You  The paddlers and the group dynamics within that

A      (Area) The paddle environment, what to expect and boundary setting

B      (Boat) Kit checks- boats and personal kit

C      Communication- agree the communication- hand signals, whistles etc.

D      (Doctor) Confirm any pre-existing medical conditions that should be aware of

E      What is the emergency plan- who has a phone, what are the walk outs


Rescue Safety Priority Protocol

S      Self                     Know your role in the group     

T      Team                  Ensure understand when to help or stop stand clear

V      Victim/Casualty     Confirm defensive swimming and understands instruction

E      Equipment/Kit       Craft  airbags, personal kit is appropriate and correctly worn



On the water

Dynamic Risk Assessment

C      Communication-  Use agreed hand signals

     Line of sight          Leader to maintain visibility throughout group

A      Avoidance             Avoid hazards- rapids, trees

P      Position                 Leader to be in position to guide and communicate


Low to High Risk Rescue

Shout         Use names when possible more likely to get response

Reach        Use kit to hand and you are secure and will not be pulled in

Throw                    Practice throwing the rope

Row           Use your kayak to rescue

Go               Live bait rescue in extreme situation


Risk Rating of Rescues



After trips hold a debrief, to allow a feedback approach to improvements.


Additional Areas

Trip Checklist

Plan trip location and experience level of paddlers

Complete pre-checks

o   Emergency Contact forms

o   Communication on trip expectations

Group organisation

o   Clear allocation of river leaders

o   Arrangement of groups, expectations of groups and coach/leaders

River Briefing

o   Group discussion Me/You/A/B/C/D/E

o   Shore Based Safety checks-

§  STVE Principle explained

§  Appropriate personal kit

·         Whistle

·         Sling/tape

·         Carabiner

·         Check for loops and stags

§  Appropriate Safety kit for group

·         Mobile phone

·         Throw lines

·         First Aid kit

·         Spare paddles

·         Shelter

§  Boat Check


o   Key points-    Communication protocols

·         How to avoid hazards

·         What do if you capsize

·         Defensive swimming and rescue techniques

On the River

·         Clear structure of river leadership and arrangement of groups to promote safety.

·         On the water follow the principle of CLAP is followed -

o   Communication, use and adhere to signals

o   Line of Sight, ensure line of sight is maintained- as lead do not paddle out of sight from group in a rapid on a big drop do not drop out of sight

o   Avoidance, do not attempt or lead group on rapids above the group safety level. Set up safety and allow single runs for example

o   Position on a rapid position yourself in “Maximum Usefulness” most appropriate position and allow others to make the line of sight if necessary


·         Open discussion on what worked what did not and how to embed into future activities.

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