Saturday, June 25, 2016

Manchester goes to Norway

Padlefestivalen is a sea kayaking festival held the Hordaland region of Norway close to Bergen. The location at Langoy Kystkultursenter is ideally situated beside sheltered lagoon and channels that lead to the open rocky North Sea coast after a 30 minute warm up paddle.

Last year was my first at this festival. This time I brought three paddlers from Manchester Canoe Club. We arrived in Bergen mid-afternoon so by the time we got to Langoy Kystkultursenter we were itching to get on the water. The evening weather was really good so we managed to paddle out west over the rolling swell to the island of L√łno.

One of the popular sea kayaking Brottpaddling which is a cross between rock-hopping and surfing. The idea is to surf swell and waves amongst reefs and rock gardens. Its a real favourite amongst the Norwegian paddlers and has become a speciality for me.

On my second day of Brottpadling a thick sea fog had rolled in. This changed the game dramatically. Accurate navigation was crucial. Although we still found plenty of mischief in the rock gardens, I decided to rename the workshop as 'Sp√łekilsepaddling' which means ghost paddling. The guys from Manchester Canoe Club had been taking part in a variety of workshops in navigation, leadership and skills with one achieving 3 Star award by the end of the festival.

At the end of Saturday's workshops Padlefestivalen hosts the 'Head 2 Head Challenge'. This is always a fun competition on the water with rules that change at the drop of a hat. This year it was to be a race in canoes and I knew that the guys from Manchester Canoe Club could do well. After a fierce and chaotic battle, the Manchester team came in second place. We will win next time!

The Saturday evening is the social high point of the festival. There is a grand barbecue and campfire and there was drinking and singing late into the night.

On the Sunday we paddled to the Utermarkeriet which sells a wide range of delicious cakes and bakery treats before heading out to sea to explore some of the off-lying islands and reefs. When we landed, it was time to say goodbye to our festival friends as most people were going home this evening. Me and the guys from Manchester took one final paddle on the Monday morning before packing up and getting and evening flight home. Many thanks to Ashley and Ronny for making us so welcome. We will be back!


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