One of the highlights of this year's Canoecopia, sponsored by Rutabaga over the weekend at the Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, was the extended schedule of pool demonstrations at the adjacent Clarion Hotel.
This year's pool demos proved so popular that dozens of people were turned away from some of the presentations on Saturday after the room filled to its fire-code capacity.
If, for example, you wanted to see Danny Mongno and Kelly Blades's Commando Ninja Death Paddle Show, you had to be in line early on Saturday to gain admission.
But there was plenty of room for all comers on Sunday, as Mongno and Blades repeated their popular demonstration.
Spectators were rewarded by a couple of guys rough-housing with boats, as Mongno and Blades put on a display that emphasized the fun kayakers can have with their craft if they lighten up and have a blast.
The exuberance is on full exhibit in this video clip captured near the end of the show, as Mongno executes a kayaking maneuver you won't see in more staid and somber instructional videos.
In a more stayed and elegant pool demo, the noted German kayaker Freya Hoffmeister introduced spectators to the grace and elegance of Greenland-style kayak rolling. Rooted deep in the history of Greenland's kayak-fishing traditions, that country's vocabulary of kayak-rolling techniques is distinct from those of other styles and traditions -- as explained by Hoffmeister and poolside narrator Greg Stamer.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Hoffmeister's presentation was her demonstrated command of her boat, paddle and the techniques of Greenland-style kayak rolling -- a command that gave her program an astonishing grace and ease, as seen in this video clip that follows.
Mark Schoon and Melinda Rice put on one of the more practical pool demonstrations during last weekend's Canoecopia. The duo -- both Registered Maine Kayak Guides, coaches and co-owners of coastal Maine's Carpe Diem Kayaking -- focused spectators' attention on a variety of assisted and solo rescue techniques. Drawing on their own vast experience, Rice and Schoon often added their own twists to even the most fundamental rescue techniques, as seen in this video clip below.
Darren Bush, co-owner of Rutabaga, reports that Canoecopia attendance was up this year by a percentage in the high single digits. Dates for next year's show have been set for March 8-10, 2008.