Twelve members of BOCC’s junior squad completed their annual safety drill last Sunday, 4th March at the Gold Coast. The safety drill, consisting of a huli drill (righting an upside-down canoe) and a swimming proficiency test, is an annual requirement aimed at ensuring our paddlers have the necessary skills to remain safe on the water.

The drill was conducted at Southport Spit on the Gold Coast where members of the squad, ranging in ages from 10 to 17 years, enjoyed the sunny weather and calm waters as they were put through their paces by their coaching team. The huli drill was first up and involved the deliberate flipping of a six-man outrigger canoe by its crew, who then go to action stations; counting heads to ensure all paddlers are accounted for then working as a team to get the canoe upright, bailed of water and back under way. This gives the paddlers the confidence to respond appropriately and safely should their craft flip over during competition or training. It also gives their coaches and parents the comfort of knowing their young paddlers can respond quickly and appropriately in the event of a huli.

There were quite a few new paddlers amongst our seasoned juniors and everyone had multiple goes at “paddling inverted”. It was great to see the nerves and apprehension rapidly dissipate when the first-timers realised that they could have just as much fun outside the boat as in it. The record for the day was held by a combined crew of Under 16 and Under 19 paddlers who had their craft righted in under 37 seconds. Well done that crew.

The second part of the drill involved the swimming proficiency test, which requires that junior paddlers be able to swim 150m and tread water for 3 minutes. Instead, the squad unanimously decided to do the adult proficiency test, a 400m swim with 5 minutes of treading water. Hats off to all our juniors for setting themselves a stretch goal and completing it. That was just awesome!

The day finished with several of the older juniors practicing change-overs at the end of the session, which involved exchanging paddlers in the boat for paddlers in the water while the boat remains in motion, a skill usually reserved for adult competitions in excess of 42kms and a great skill to develop while in the junior squad.

Thanks to parents for coming all that way and supporting our squad, and to our ever-present parent helpers on the water.

Junior Development Coach