Wild BC sea kayak: Okisollo

Our BC tide race tour now took us to Quadra Island, home to Surge Narrows and Okisollo tidal rapids. From our camp next to Surge’s playful eddy lines, we paddled north to Okisollo, a 2-hour trip to reach the fabled venue.

This was a more complex wave than Skook, demanding a ferry out to access the steep section, with a bowl to surf, a shoulder to fall off – and the occasional wave face collapse. On a small spring tide, the power of the feature was less violent than Skook, though still a challenge to surf well.

I watched as Kate shredded the wave, paddling with an elegance befitting this west coast surf girl.

With more surfable time during the tidal phase, I relaxed into the Okisollo experience more than at Skook. Time on the wave face felt smoother, less tense, with more fluent transitions between moves. Rides began to flow, with more precision and less energy lost to fighting the wave.

I noticed that the balance between contact and pressure inside the boat was more suited to the clean waves at Oki. Too much tension creates a loss of fine tuning, with gross movements from edge to edge, rather than a smooth adjustment of hull shape. My Oki moves felt more fluid than the more edgy, hesitant weight shifts I made at Skook.

I also felt more ‘ahead’ of events at Okisollo. Looking at the two clips, I lead with my head more on the latter day. At each venue I rotate my upper body fully into the desired move – an ingrained foundation skill for me – but my head position is better at Oki. At Skook I was often bow-watching, rather than focusing on where I would be in a few seconds’ time.

My sense of – and response to – position on the wave is also better at Okisollo. In the trough or high on the face – each time my posture and weight shifts are suitable and well-timed. At Skook, I sometimes found myself down in the trough of the wave without arc or momentum to climb back up the face – behind the curve, late to the party.

Finally, my stroke linking and blade placement is cleaner and better-timed at Oki. I felt far more blade pressure at Skook, combined with occasionally-messy blade entries.

Why?
I was more relaxed at Oki. My fourth day on BC tide races, I was more in tune with the at first-unfamiliar kayak and paddle (excellent kit! Thank you Kate / JF for the Sterling / Saltwood set-up!)

I was also more up to speed with these fast glassy BC tide race waves. Much of my UK tide race paddling is at exposed headlands, where eddy lines are messy and waves break unpredictably. It’s a different challenge. I felt, at Okisollo, that I was ahead of the game at last.

I also took a more pro-active, dynamic approach at Oki. I decided my desired boat position and took action. At Skook I was a little uncertain, wary of the wave and tended to respond – rather than shape events. As a result, my surfing at Skook was less fluent.

I know this because I took time to reflect, watch the footage and compare. I’m stoked (as they say in these parts) to get back to Skook and step up! Remember, we can all be our own best coach. Watch, focus, do, reflect, plan, set goals, go paddle, repeat…


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/138688782″>Nick Okisollo</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/kayakessentials”>Kayak Essentials</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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