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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Canoecopia: Learn to control your boat
Kayak veteran Steve Scherrer shares his insights

Anyone who paddles a boat knows they can improve both their paddling technique and their mastery of boat control. Thousands of paddlers will descend on the Alliant Center's Exhibition Hall this weekend during Canoecopia to seek new tools and tips that will help them make those improvements.

Veteran kayaker Steve Scherrer has invested decades of thought and effort toward developing a series of principles and activities he believes can help those paddlers make a great leap forward. Drawing on fundamental physics and biomechanics, he explains his philosophy during "Boat Design 101" at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 11.

Scherrer will also take his principles to the adjacent Clarion Hotel pool for an applied demonstration focused on "Understanding Boat Control" at 12:30 p.m. Saturday --showcasing some of the basic drills he recommends for cultivating a deeper knowledge of how one can use one's body, paddle and the boat itself to yield greater control of one's craft.

A co-founder and longtime co-owner of Portland, Oregon's Alder Creek Kayak Supply Inc., Scherrer is now a traveling sea-kayak ambassador for Confluence Watersports -- parent company for such paddling brands as Wilderness Systems, Dagger, Perception, Wavesport, Adventure Technology and Mad River Canoe. In a Q&A conducted via email, he previews his Canoecopia presentations.

The Daily Page: Who stands to benefit from your Boat Design 101 presentation? Why should they attend?
Scherrer: Any paddler who has ever wondered about boat design and what makes a vessel do what it does. To understand the design of your boat helps you understand the best route to get it to do what you want.

How did you arrive at the methods and principles you use to help people become better paddlers?
I've been paddling more than 40 years and teaching at all levels for 20. Figuring out the simplest ways to understand boat and body movement is what good education is all about.

How will your "Boat Design 101" presentation relate to your pool session on "Understanding Boat Control"?
Theory in the classroom, practical application in the pool. My wife will be demonstrating some simple drills and techniques that will help people understand the theory and also give them some tricks to try next time they get on the water.

What are the three most common misconceptions paddlers have about boat design, and how do you correct them?

  1. You balance a kayak by J-leaning.
  2. Hard-chined boats are more stable.
  3. Whitewater boats turn by edging on the inside edge and sea kayaks edge on the outside.
You have to come to the presentation for the correction answers!

Why did you decide to sell Alder Creek Kayak Supply? And what have you been doing since the sale?
We were asked if we wanted to sell and we thought about it... for about 2.5 seconds. We moved to the SW Washington coast and have both been working with the design and marketing teams at Confluence doing research and development on new boat designs and traveling as paddlesport ambassadors and educators.

Between your presentations and pool demonstration, what else is on your agenda for Canoecopia?
We're an integral part of the Confluence marketing team and will be in the booth most of the show. Cindy will be participating on the women's paddling panel (Saturday at noon) and is promoting our kayak fitness package.

As a returning presenter, how would you describe the appeal of Canoecopia from a speaker's perspective?
Having such a wide variety of participants and attendees all gathered up in the dead of winter is a very exciting thing.

Canoecopia is scheduled for 4-9 p.m. this Friday, Mar. 9; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall and the adjacent Clarion Hotel Pool, with dozens of speakers and scores of exhibitors. Admission is $10/day or $15 for a weekend pass (youths 17 and under enjoy free admission).

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