Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills
The Level 4 Sea Kayak skills award aims to enable candidates to:
- Kayak safely and competently on the Sea up to and including slight seas (Douglas Sea Scale) and force 4 winds, including overfalls and tide races as part of a group of peers.
- Be capable of negotiating obstacles likely to be encountered in such conditions.
- Able to deal competently with rescue situations that might occur in these conditions.
- Develop group awareness.
To obtain the Level 4 Sea Kayak skills award, a participant must successfully explain and/or demonstrate the following techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Sea Kayak skills award and be capable of demonstrating any combination of the strokes competently and efficiently.
- Efficient forward and backward paddling.
- Forward Sweep, Reverse Sweep and a combination of Forward and Reverse Sweep turning into and away from the wind (360 degrees in both directions).
- Bow Rudder.
- Stern Rudder.
- Low Brace Turn.
- Low Recovery.
- High Recovery.
- Sculling for Support.
- Sculling Draw.
- Draw Stroke.
- Hanging Draw.
- An ability to control a kayak in following and beam seas.
- An ability to deal with breaking waves.
- An ability to perform assisted landings on a variety of shores.
- An ability to follow a compass bearing.
- The candidates should be able to explain and demonstrate the use of transits up ahead, laterally and behind.
Rescues and Safety Techniques
- An Eskimo Rescue (Bow and Paddle presentation).
- An effective X Rescue of a capsized kayak.
- Effective Roll on any side in a slight sea. Candidate will have to capsize through a full 360 degrees.
- An effective method of towing another kayak. Suitable towing method may be either single or multiple tows and utilise a variety of lengths. The candidate should be familiar with the Fan and Tandem Tow. The Towing System must be readily accessible and have a quick release mechanism.
The candidate should demonstrate a basic knowledge of the following:
- Tidal Streams, causes and effects and how to predict them.
- Weather Forecasting, obtaining and understanding forecasts.
- Sea Kayaks, equipment and clothing.
- Sea Kayaking Camping Procedures.
- Sea Kayaking Safety Procedures.
- Sea Charts and Ordnance Survey maps.
- The effects of wind on sea conditions.
- An introductory knowledge of the coastal environment.
- Navigation while at sea, including feature recognition, self-location, ability to route plan to alternate locations such as escape route.
- First Aid, to include the symptoms and treatment of exposure and an awareness of the technique of artificial resuscitation. It is recommended but not mandatory that the candidate attend a First Aid course such as REC3.
Applying to attend a Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Assessment
Before applying to attend an assessment, a candidate must:
- Have obtained the Level 3 Sea Kayak skills award
- Have completed an Essential Coastal Navigation Course and obtained an ECN Certificate.
- Be a member of Canoeing Ireland either as an individual member or as a member of an affiliated club.
- Have unrestricted access to a fully equipped sea kayak, personal equipment and additional equipment (see Level 4 skills list of equipment).
- Be a least 16 years of age.
- The Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills assessment will include a short written assessment followed by a sea trip of 3-4 hours in duration which must take place in slight seas (Douglas Sea Scale) with up to Force 4 winds.
- The written assessment will include trip planning exercises with specified conditions and group parameters. These trips may be anywhere along the Irish Coast. No conferring is allowed.
- During an assessment a candidate must explain and demonstrate all techniques and skills at a level higher than that required for the Level 3 Sea Kayak skills award. All techniques, skills and rescues must be demonstrated to the required level in order to achieve this award.
- All strokes should be demonstrated in relevant situations i.e. bracing in surf. Strokes should be demonstrated on both sides of the kayak.
- All rescues must be executed by the candidate acting as both rescuee and rescuer. Generally, required assessment rescues will be kept until the end of the trip.
- While attendance at a course is normally necessary, exceptions to that rule are accepted based on the candidate's presentation of an extensive range of logged sea trips. While it is not compulsory to attend a training course prior to assessment, it is strongly recommended.
- Before assessment the candidates must present their logged trips (See details of qualifying trips in Guidelines).
- A Level 4 Sea Kayak skills award can only be assessed by a member of the Level 4 Sea Kayak Skills Assessor Panel.
- It is recommended that the award be assessed by an Instructor other than the Instructor who ran the training course leading to assessment.
- The assessment will be carried out with a maximum ratio of 4:1.
- Should a candidate fail an assessment written guidelines should be given as to the areas that they need to improve on.
- No other award may be assessed at the same time as the Level 4 Sea Kayak skills award.
- Before setting off on the trip the candidate will be required to produce a route summary for the day based on information gleaned from the chart, tide tables, pilot and weather forecast. No conferring is allowed during this trip planning and it is recommended that each candidate come independently prepared with everything necessary to plan a trip.
- On trips the candidate undertakes, no unnecessary risks should be taken and all necessary planning and preparations should be seen to have been taken. It is recommended that the candidates seek to gain his/her experience in a measured way and not attempt trips they haven't the experience for.
- Details of four qualifying sea trips must be presented, along with an assessment approval by the Canoeing Ireland Training Officer, to the Assessor prior to commencement of assessment. At least one of the qualifying sea trips must be on the Atlantic coastline. The candidate must show active participation in navigation and planning of trips. Qualifying trips should be, at minimum, of three hours paddling duration and should include a lunch stop.
The candidate should seek to include trips in a logbook that includes the following categories:
- Coastal trips with simple tidal considerations – it being necessary to identify which way the tide is running in order to plan the trip to take advantage of tides.
- Coastal trips with a crux i.e. a trip where you wish to be at a specific location at a specific time to benefit from predicted tidal conditions.
- Open crossings where knowledge of tidal streams is necessary.
Equipment List required for Assessment:
Properly equipped kayak:
- End loops and/or toggles.
- Suitable buoyancy
- Suitable foot rest
- Tow and Deck Lines
- A kayak must be of sufficient volume to carry out all necessary safety equipment and perform any rescue as required by the Level 4 Sea Kayak skills award.
Personal kayaking equipment:
- ISO approved Buoyancy Aid
- ISO approved helmet
- Spray deck
- Adequate footwear
- Wetsuit or dry pants, dry cag or dry suit, combined with sufficient thermal clothing
- Towing System.
- First Aid Kit.
- Mobile Phone.
- Flask and Food.
- Spare Clothes.
- Bivy Bag or group shelter.
- Flares (one red parachute flare and one red pinpoint flare).
- Repair Kit (to include, at a minimum, tape and something to dry out a kayak).
- Spare paddles.
- Charts (or copies of OS maps containing all relevant trip) planning information.
- · Waterproof Bag or other method of keeping equipment dry).
Recommended additional group equipment:
All equipment should be stored in a logical fashion with emergency equipment secure and allowing easy access at all times. Equipment must remain secure during rescues and spare clothing should be dry at the end of the day. The candidate must be fully conversant with the use of all equipment carried. It is not appropriate that the retrieval of emergency equipment should require assistance.