By Maryanne Doyle, UCD Canoe Club, TDU Clubs Officer

On the 5th and 6th of April the TDU Committee organised a weekend of river safety and rescue training as part of the training series leading up to the Club Championships. Although there is no formal safety and rescue event as part of the Club Champs the skills learned at the weekend will still make a valuable addition to the personal and club paddling of all involved!

Day One – RSR1 Training

Saturday started bright and early as a team of about 20 volunteer instructors and trainee instructors gathered at 09:00 at Kilkenny Aqua Club to make a plan for the day. By 11:00 upwards of 60 club paddlers had joined the gathering and after registration and distribution of the special edition Club Championship tshirts everyone was split in to groups for the day.

RSR1 briefing – photo by Maryanne Doyle

Participants came from all over the country from clubs such as Athy Rowing and Canoeing Club, GOYA Gang, Kilkenny Aqua Club, Lacken Kayak Club, Laois Kayak and Canoe Club, Lir Canoe Club, Phoenix Kayak Club, Rockhoppers Kayak Club, Sligo Kayak Club, Thomastown Paddlers, Tullamore, Tullow, UCD Canoe Club and Wild Water Kayak Club. It was a great opportunity to meet other paddlers and the atmosphere was great, especially as the rain eased off and the sun began to try and peek through the clouds.

Some blue sky – photo by Maryanne Doyle

By lunchtime the groups had covered the basics of the RSR1 course and had discussed the appropriate gear to use, reviewed different approaches to maintaining communication when on the water and practised a variety of techniques for rope throwing.

Rope throwing practice – photo by Maryanne Doyle

The rope throwing in particular was a lot of fun as after an introduction to the techniques we had up to a dozen ropes flying back and forth as everyone learned each other’s names, perfected their technique and improved their accuracy.

Simulating swimmers on the bank – photo by Maryanne Doyle

Next up was a simulation of rescuing using ropes where the groups split into pairs and experimented using different grips to see how best to pull in a swimmer. This was a little like a tug of war, but had us all ready for real life rope rescues in moving water the next day.

Dozens of RSR paddlers on the Nore – photo by Paddy McCormack

After lunch the groups took to the water and spent a couple of hours experimenting with towing techniques on flat water. We stayed close to Kilkenny Aqua Club’s HQ and many passers by stopped to watch the action from the bridge and river banks as they passed through Kilkenny. Imagine what they’ll think next week when there are four or five times as many paddlers there!

Day Two – RSR2 Training

Sunday started under a grey sky and the morning briefing was given in drizzling rain. The plan was to use the theory learned in RSR1 training on Saturday on the water and expand it along the RSR2 syllabus along a river trip. Given the steel grey sky, rain and damp gear from the day before the prospect of the swimming the day held for us all was not the most attractive thing and preparations in the car park included an exorbitant amount of thermals in preparation.

Briefing and huddling for warmth – photo by Adrian Durrant

The day started with a riverside briefing and a run through of some principles we’d use over the course of the day. Everyone huddled close for warmth and packed up plenty of lunch.

Setting out for the day – photo by Adrian Durrant

Once everyone was on the water the clouds cleared and the sun began to come through. This boosted spirits as the groups started to move down the river and run the first weirs of the weekend.

Man on weir – photo by Adrian Durrant

The sun continued to warm up throughout the day and next thing some people went for some extra swimming and had a go at body surfing the stopper at the bottom of one of the weirs.

Body surfing in the sun – photo by Benny Cullen

At the last weir we practiced live bait rescue which was both a valuable skill to learn and a lot of fun! We learned the basics practicing on a rugby ball before beginning to rescue each other once we realised that sliding down the weir was a lot of fun too.

Live bait training – photo by Adrian Durrant

As the river trip ended in glorious sunshine everyone was thoroughly tired out from a full day of rescue practice and very satisfied with a great weekend’s paddling.


Learning skills on the go – photo by Adrian Durrant

As everyone packed up and prepared to head their separate ways there were plenty of smiling faces as people picked up their Club Championship tshirts and RSR2 certificates.

Stylish club championships tshirts – photo by Maryanne Doyle

Also on hand was the Great Outdoors van which was packed full of rescue gear and proved very popular with participants who were eager to pick up some slings and ropes of their own so that they could continue to use their new rescue skills.

Great Outdoors brought a selection of rescue gear for participants to buy – photo by Adrian Durrant

Once the last of the tshirts were given out and the last of the names ticked off all 80 participants and volunteers drove off in the sunshine for what remained of the last weekend before the Club Championships.

Plenty of blue sky for the drive home – photo by Maryanne Doyle

Thanks to all of the instructors and trainee instructors who volunteered their time and energy and made a brilliant weekend happen!

This sounds fun, how can I do an RSR course?

Now that the weather’s getting nicer is the perfect time to do an RSR course! These courses aim to cover the core skills of safety and rescue in the river environment and can cater for participants at nearly any stage of kayaking ability. Check out the syllabus online or the summaries below and see if you can run one in your club!