Recently, over 30 TRAK paddlers assembled on Saysutshun-Newcastle Island for the first annual TRAK Owners Gathering, a symposium-style event dedicated to skills progression, TRAK mastery, and community building. With paddlers joining from as far away as Holland and Chile, and a sizable contingent from the great Pacific Northwest, and a mixture of TRAK Pilot Ambassadors, veteran TRAK owners, and brand new kayak recipients, it was a diverse group of paddlers with different backgrounds and experiences on the water.
To celebrate their “graduation” from the Gathering, 13 of those paddlers embarked on a moving expedition for DeCourcy Island.
TRAK Ownership comes with an amazing community and Pilot support - we hope to see YOU at our next Gatherings in 2024!
I - TRAK Pilot Ambassador Summit
Kicking things off on September 29th was an exclusive period of development for the TRAK Pilot Ambassadors. Our TRAK community is greatly supported by these paddlers, based around the world to support TRAK owners with product and skills education, as well as providing many future TRAK paddlers with their first exposure to these unique boats via test paddles.
TRAK Pilots covering the gameplan for the week ahead.
After a heroic logistics effort to move camp equipment, supplies, paddling gear, and many bodies to Saysutshun-Newcastle Island via the small local ferry service, Pilots enjoyed a full moon paddle that set the tone for the rest of the trip: exploring their comfort zones as paddlers and leaders in this community. Pilots also reviewed TRAK mastery methods, tips and tricks for the field, and seized at the opportunity to lead specific skills progression segments over the coming days.
It was also a bit of an “induction” for several new members of the TRAK Pilot Team - Phil, Brad, and Michiel have stepped up to represent in Vashon Island, Victoria, and Holland, respectively.
II - TRAK Owner Gathering
The Gathering was officially opened with two poignant ceremonies - first, a quick group recital of the Sailor's Prayer led by local musician Danny Dolan, who would later lead the musical entertainment over the evening campfire, followed by a traditional Snuneymuxw welcome song and cultural introduction to Saysutshun-Newcastle presented to us by Mr. Dave Bodaly. The location of the gathering is known as a place of renewal and revitalization to the local Snuneymuxw First Nation - something that was keenly appreciated by all who attended.
The Gathering was opened with a traditional Snuneymuxw welcome ceremony.
The first afternoon began fairly unstructured, giving our guests time to build their own campsites and prepare their gear for the coming days. Some folks made it out for paddling lessons under Pilot tutelage in nearby Mark Bay, with other owners arriving fresh off of crossing from the nearby Vancouver Island.
Some TRAK Owners even received their brand new kayaks at the Gathering!
After a fabulous dinner of grilled salmon, entertainment was provided by local legend Danny Dolan - who roused the crowd into singing along in various sea shanties and traditional Irish tunes. Supported by Roberto Feldman and Jason Guindon, Danny warmed the group with old favorites and a few new diddies. The atmosphere was light, fun, and communal - nothing at all like a “kayak boot camp”!
Greeting the next morning with wellness stretching and a hearty breakfast, paddlers geared up for their first lesson: TRAK assembly tips and tricks. The key to making TRAK Pilots fantastic educators for this community is their intimate knowledge of the TRAK 2.0 kayak, having pushed it through its paces in their own time, and really honing their understanding of how to make these unique boats work well for a variety of different paddlers.
Hailing from Patagonian Chile, TRAK Pilot Rodolfo leads a briefing on the next skills segment.
Launching after the build demo, the group enjoyed a symposium-style progression designed to get them prepared for a multi-day moving expedition to other islands Southward. Covering key skills such as:
In between on-water sessions and meals, paddlers took in high-level theory primers on navigation, tides, and passage planning.
Navigation training and coffee - a perfect combination!
III - DeCourcy Expedition
With gorgeous weather turning to unquenchable rain, the gathering concluded with another heroic logistical undertaking as the DeCourcy pod made their way off the beach and into the mists. Some paddlers could not attend the expedition, and so went off to make their flights home - the communal effort to leave the island as we found it, and to move the sheer amount of equipment off Saysutshun-Newcastle was a great example of “human-power”!
Thousands of years, carved in stone.
The DeCourcy group paddled 11nm, made landfall in the pouring rain at Pirate’s Cove, made camp, and snuggled in for better weather the following day. The morning featured a camp breakfast and some free time for personal paddling, select skills work, and some hiking in the provincial park. Their final day was spent navigating to the Nanaimo river estuary for a brackish landing.
Camping in Pirates Cove Provincial Park.
After 5 days on the water, the DeCourcy crew landed on the banks of the Nanaimo River. The light and love on paddlers faces as their adventure came to a close was contagious, and everyone left the beach feeling accomplished in one area or another. For some, it was their first time completing a multi-day trip - something incredibly memorable to be part of.
This is what paddlers thought of the trip, right off the water:
Our next Gatherings will be in 2024 in the PNW, NE-US, and Italy. Become a TRAK Owner and get Unleashed with a great community at your back!
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