An Alternative to the BCU / Welsh Canoe Association?

Should there be an alternative civilian canoe organisation?

  • Yes - to cover Instructor Awards and Access

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes - to cover Instructor Awards

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes - to cover Access Campaigns

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No - get a grip fool!

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Do I give a sh1t?!

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


How do you start a question of this complexity?

Ive been paddling for nearly 10 years, and have been a member of the WCA / BCU for 4 of those i suppose. To start though, i think i should be clear: there is a difference between the BCU and the WCA - although they operate the same award and coaching schemes, their set-up and approach to events and issues is markedly different.

There are two major issues which i find hard to understand: 1. Access and 2. Coaching Awards.

1. Access - through Law there is only access to 2% of the inland water in England and Wales ( and although there is an active river access campaign, supported by the BCU, there is a startling lack of access campaigning in Wales.

I have spoken to the WCA, and in fact been reprimanded by the Chief Executive for being stupid - but still fail to see that an effective or enthusiastic campaign is underfoot. By and large the main thrust of the WCA access campaign seems to be levelled at bombarding low-level Welsh Assembly politicians - now, even if this is the most effective way forward, the campaign should surely be directed at London, not Cardiff, and the seat of real decision making? The follow up to this thrust is a campaign searching for the support of individual members, directing them to different polls and policies, for example the Liberal Democrats position on canoeing, asking for individual paddlers to contact the party and register their views ... this seems a woefully inadequate, slow and ineffective means of progress. Moreover, i feel that i subscribe to the organisation for them to chase, cajol and lobby for me - if not i might as well save my money and continue to reply myself.

I would suggest that a mass trespass organised on a stretch of river, or water body, be organised akin to the mass trespass on Kinder Scout - there is a precedent in this country for action, and success, and as the government has clearly exposed its position on paddling (by omitting it from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) i suggest that it is this ACTION which is called for now. Further to this, there is also a precedent in terms of access to water, in an agreement between the British Waterways Board and the BCU, allowing members to paddle free and unmolested on canals in England and Wales. Why can't this be achieved with bodies such as Welsh Water - who only last week refused to let me paddle on the Beacons Reservoir (as the only group allowed on is the Army) under the reasoning that it is not desginated recreation water.

2. Coaching Awards - I dont wish to clog this thread with my ramblings (more than i have already) but it seems to me that there is a huge gap left by the current system: the current coaching awards appear to be designed towards the development of skills and the coaching of athletes, when perhaps the larger reality is that the canoe coach qualifications are gained and held by people taking groups down sections of river, or onto other water bodies as adventurous training and not as part of a longterm skill based training regime. This being the case, then perhaps there should be a separate system based more upon the safety aspect of group control and river craft? i am aware that there is a new system of coaching qualifications being realeased through the year under the title UKCC - i will admit i dont know anything about this revised scheme, and would appreciate any information people have on it.

So, what is my point? I feel we (as paddlers, and general river users - for those who swim in the river, or take their children down in the summer) are being failed by the current access campaign, particularly in Wales - and that i believe some form of physical and organised campiagn ought to be undertaken on the rivers themselves. Equally i wonder if the current coaching scheme really covers the two distinct 'coaching' aspects of the sport.

My question: should there be a rival canoe organisation - offering instructor awards and access campaigns? I feel let down by the government, the WCA and (although better run) the BCU as the parent organisation, am i alone?

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