Fantastic French Alps challenge for kayakers

During the summer break a number of Senior School pupils travelled to the French Alps to take part in a kayak trip.

Upon arriving at the stunning mountain range, the pupils set up camp, cooked some hearty food and sorted out the kayaks and equipment ahead of a busy expedition.

The first day on the water saw pupils paddle a section of the Durance river to help settle their nerves and they ended the day at the St. Clement slalom course where they did a practice swim.

The next day saw the kayakers work on their skills on the 2+ section of the Durance from Briançon down to the barrage. The 18km ‘Sun Run’ on the Durance was next up for the touring party and they had a very enjoyable day as the trail challenged their breaking in and out technique. There were obstacles around every corner, including the Rabioux wave, and the pupils showed real progression throughout the day.

The following day saw them focus on working on travelling as a team as they paddled the Lower Guil. After lunch, the pupils had a session in the pool on rolling, which proved very productive with pupils making great headway and some completing rolls. They also spent some time looking at supporting strokes and active paddling positions.

The improvements in the pupils’ paddling was demonstrated as they revisited the section of the Durance from Briançon down to Prelles and they had a relaxing session the following day as they spent time on Embrun Lake.

After their chilled session, trips to the spectacular gorge section of the Upper Guil and the race course section of the Ubaye river tested the pupils’ effort and ability to new levels.

A return to the ‘Sun Run’ on the Durance was enhanced due to recent rainfall making some of the features bigger, and the pupils thoroughly enjoyed the challenge as they used their skills on some big wave trains.

The penultimate day in the French Alps saw them have a focused session at the St. Clement slalom site where they had the chance to self-rescue, get some throwline practice and have a surf.

The final day gave the pupils an opportunity to apply the skills they had learnt, as well as test themselves on a few interesting rapids, as they used a small section of the middle Guil.

Outdoor Education Co-ordinator Mr Adam Hughes was delighted with how the trip went and said: “There was a huge improvement from the start to the end of the trip. I feel that many of the pupils have become genuine kayakers and hope they continue with their development.”

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