Sunday, December 11, 2011


The day was windy but sunny. A northwesterly force 7, slowing down in the afternoon. The coastline, open to southwest, is protected by some rocky points and the waves hit the coast with an angle of about 30 degree with the Mistral (NW).
Photo by Fiorenzo Fiorenza
21 paddlers coming from Siracusa, Catania, Ragusa and Palermo were ready to fight the breakers, and one after the other launched to cross the surf zone paddling westward in the head wind. The launching took some time and just a couple of us capsized, one collected from the waters edge and another one crashed on the outer surf line under one-and-half meters wave.
From Giarre, Slowitaly Club
From Palermo, Trinacria Club
Once the group was compacted and out of the surf zone the paddling was nice and safe. 

The original plan was to land on a small beach just few kilometers far away, but the group skills were not really high and we decided to have only one challenge for the day: landing back without a disaster at the Sampieri beach!
After a short ruddering session on the following wind and waves we grouped again and set in to land without too much problems through the surf. A chain of three paddlers was the line to follow in order to pass safe and avoide the breakers between a shallow sea floor and the sand bar, a kind of join-the-dots strategy. One after one the paddlers went through this line until a couple were too close to the sand bar when a big waves set arrived there. One was rescued with the kayak, another one lost the kayak and was contact-towed to the beach, while the lost kayak was recovered on the beach just 300 meters far from the rescue point.

All safe on land we were ready for a luxurious lunch at the Patapata bathing establishment, prepared for the inaugural day at this new base of the club, and the relaxing party went on until sunset.
La giornata era ventosa ma soleggiata. Vento da Nord Ovest forza 7, in diminuzione per il pomeriggio. La costa, aperta a sud-ovest, è protetta da due promontori rocciosi e le onde arrivano sulla spiaggia con un angolo di circa 30 gradi quando c'è il maestrale.
21 kayakers provenienti da Siracusa, Catania, Ragusa and Palermo erano pronti a lottare contro i frangenti ed uno dopo l'altro sono salpati per attraversare la zona di surf per poi pagaiare verso ovest controvento. La partenza è durata un bel po' ma soltanto due si sono capovolti, di cui uno vicino alla riva e l'altro sulla linea dei frangenti più esterni dove le onde erano di circa un metro e mezzo.
Il piano originale era di sbarcare su una piccola spiaggetta a pochi km di distanza, ma le abilità del gruppo ci hanno convinto che era meglio avere una sola scenario difficile: sbarcare senza un disastro nuovamente sulla spiaggia di Sampieri!
Dopo una breve sessione di timonata con il vento e le onde di poppa ci siamo raggruppati nuovamente ed abbiamo organizzato una fila di kayaker posizionati in modo tale da creare un passaggio sicuro tra due zone di grossi frangenti. Uno dopo l'altro i kayakers hanno seguito questa linea fino a quando un paio di loro si sono trovati troppo vicini alla linea dei frangenti mentre arrivava un grosso set di onde. Uno è stato soccorso con il kayak, un altro ha lasciato andare il kayak ed è stato rimorchiato a riva, mentre il kayak abbandonato a se stesso è stato recuperato circa 300 metri più avanti rispetto al punto del soccorso.
Tutti salvi a terra, eravamo pronti per un lussuoso pranzo al lido Patapata, per celebrare l'apertura della base nautica dell'associazione, e la rilassante festicciola è andata avanti fino al tramonto.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

6th UK Storm Gathering

This year the 6th UK Storm Gathering took place at Holyhead, in Anglesey. Organized by Mark Tozer, it was an unique opportunity to meet friends and to know famous paddlers, as well as to learn more about paddling in the strong tidal currents running around the island.
Me, from Catania (Sicily), and Mikael, from Billdal (Sweden), had a meeting at London airport of Stansted. By the way, I landed in Luton with a cabin baggage, a big rucksack with my paddling kit and two oversized PVC rolls containing the three sections of an Aretusa kayak! Digging my way across the airport I eventually reached the rental car park, under the worried look of the shuttle bus driver...

After a night driving to Holyhead, the small island in which the gathering was at its second day, we ended up in a wonderful breakfast in the Anglesey Outdoors, with the welcome of many paddlers. Instead a late sleep we launched for a Leadership class with Nick Cunliffe in a Force 6 southerly winds. The sea was pretty rough and we ended up with a heart breaking rock hopping session. Before going to bed, after dinner, we have been awake for 38 consecutive hours.

While for me the following day was due on the Open Water Navigation course with Howard Jeffs, for Mikael there was another gathering day, with the Incident Management class, again in force 6 westerly winds.

The weather forecast was all except good and another force 6 windy day was ahead for my 5 star training course, with Harold Jeffs and Phil Clegg, perfect conditions for the 5 stars, the night paddling included. Once back at the Anglesey Outdoor at 23:30 my friend Mikael did not resist to laugh at my view... I probably seemed a bit dismantled! For him it was the theory day of the Tidal Planning and Coastal Navigation course.

On 26th we drived north of Anglesey, to leave one car at Cemaes Bay and go to launch from Bull Bay. Of course, again force 6 southerly winds. We were on the sheltered shore but the current was at its highest rate being the spring one. Tidal races were running strongly around the small islands and along the coastline. Caves, arches, narrow passages give to all of us the possibility to test our leadership skills, under the guidance of two very clear coaches. The lovely dinner at the Paddlers Return Pub recharged our batteries.

After an uncomfortable night, thinking to our assessment, Mikael and I got up early to revise our trip planning. Axel Schoevers was our assessor for the first day and we went to look for the right conditions for the 4 star. Strange but true the wind dropped down to barely force 5 and meanwhile the sea flattened too, even into the tidal race around Rhoscolyn, where we found a not-too-rough situation. Again the dinner at the Paddlers Return fully recharged our batteries after a day of skill test, with rescues, rolls and rock hopping.

Kate Duffus was our assessor for the second day. She circumnavigated Anglesey just the day before, in the attempt of beating the record! In the morning the sea was in perfect conditions, but in the afternoon it turned to be well above the 4 star conditions, with southerly wind gusting at force 7 and building huge waves that we ride close to the rocky shore, into a chaos of rebouncing clapotis. Back at the base, we waited anxiously for the results, but everyone was happy to receive the congratulations of our assessors.

Leaving Anglesey we drove after Axel and reached Justine and Barry's house where a delicious meal
was quickly ready. A nice and international dinner, from five different countries after Paul Kuthe joined us. The next morning we got up early in order to drive to London. Barry was ready to prepare breakfast, and whiffs of fresh bread leaded us to the kitchen. It was the best way to leave this lovely country after a super paddling week.
Thank you friends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New bases for Maremotu!

The sea side of  Sampieri. On the left the Patapata bathing.

 We are proud to announce that for the oncoming season (2011-2012) we will have two brand-new bases. One into the Catania harbour, and the other one on the marvellous sandy beach of Sampieri (Ragusa, south coast of Sicily).

The base in Catania is already known by a lot of local paddlers, since it is the CCC's headquarter (Circolo Canoa Catania). The base in Sampieri is housed into the "Pata Pata" beach club, where a lot of amenities and services, including a pub-bar and a restaurant will run through the summertime.

The latter will be the official Maremotu Federal Sea Kayak School site. We will organize a party (and a paddling day, of course!) by the end of this year. We want to celebrate our new play area. Stay tuned!

Circolo Canoa Catania.
Patapata bathing establishment.
 Siamo orgogliosi di comunicare che per la stagione 2011-2012 avremo due nuove basi, una nel porto di Catania e l'altra a Sampieri (RG), in una meravigliosa spiaggia.
La base di Catania è già conosciuta da molti pagaiatori locali, perché si tratta del quartier generale del CCC (Circolo Canoa Catania).
La base di Sampieri, invece, sarà ospitata all'interno dello stabilimento balneare "Pata Pata", dotato di tutte le comodità e servizi, incluso un pub-bar ed un ristorante durante la stagione estiva.
Quest'ultima base sarà la sede ufficiale della scuola federale di kayak da mare Maremotu. Organizzeremo una festa (ed una pagaiata, ovviamente) prima della fine dell'anno, per celebrare la nostra nuova area di gioco!
The village of Sampieri and The beach in front of Patapata.