If you would like any information or advice about joining Tonbridge Canoe Club please email the Membership Secretary (see details below).
The minimum age for new members is 12.
The Membership Secretary
Tonbridge Canoe Club
Email: click here to email the membership secretary
If you decide to join the club and have arranged to attend your beginner course you will need to bring a set of clothes for canoeing in. It can be quite chilly on the river, even in the middle of summer, so you will need at least the items listed below. You may need to swim in whatever you wear to go canoeing so clothing that becomes heavy when wet such as denim, leather, padded jackets etc. is not suitable. You will not need a wetsuit although you can wear one if you wish.
PLEASE NOTE: The club does not provide lockers or secure storage and cannot accept responsibility for the safekeeping of any valuables or personal effects brought onto the premises.
So What Happens When You Join?
If you are new to the sport of canoeing, or have limited experience, you will be required to attend an instructed beginner course when joining the club. This course will ensure that you are able to perform the basic canoeing strokes, capsize and rescue skills, and be responsible for your own safety on the water. It will consist of four sessions on the river and one indoor session in Tonbridge Swimming Pool (when the pool is open). At the final session you will be assessed to ensure that you have achieved the required standard to participate in wider Club activities. The beginner course syllabus includes teaching you to paddle both forward and backwards in a straight line, stop, move sideways, turn whilst moving and stationary, and getting in and out of your boat. You will also learn to paddle a figure of eight course in a boat with a rudder to demonstrate basic steering, and carry out a capsize drill in the river. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like a more detailed description of any aspect of this. If you have reasonable previous paddling experience you may not need to attend a beginner course but will be required to undertake a short assessment before joining.
All of the river based instruction is carried out in boats specific to flat water. The evening pool session involves the use of closed cockpit boats where you will be taught how to capsize safely with and without a spraydeck. Both the beginner course assessment and pool session are mandatory requirements of membership. Beginner courses run on a monthly basis during the year from April to September. There are no beginner training sessions during the winter months when water and weather conditions are not suitable for instructing, although normal club activities continue as usual. It is most important that you attend these sessions and take them seriously.
Flat water canoeing is not a dangerous sport, but as with all water sports there is an inherent risk, and the skills that you learn and practice on the course are necessary to ensure your personal safety on the water. Once you have successfully completed your beginners course and assessment you will be ready to take part in general club activities with other club members. Initially there will be a series of sessions designed to introduce you to the club activities and broaden your horizons beyond what you have already learned. You will be accompanied on these sessions by experienced club members who will not necessarily be qualified instructors, but will be able to give you further advice and encouragement. After these sessions it is up to you to decide how you want to continue. It is quite possible to focus just on one aspect of canoeing, or do a mixture of many of them, but the club will always try to encourage you to progress beyond your basic training as there is so much more to the sport of canoeing than just learning to paddle a canoe.
For safety reasons members must never paddle on their own, so you will need to join in with one or other of the club activities to progress further. The club will make every effort to arrange your beginner course at a time convenient to you, and of course we know that some people require more instruction and practice than others. If for some reason you are unable to attend your course dates we will try to accommodate you on a subsequent course when there are spaces available. However, it is your own responsibility to ensure that you attend all of the sessions and achieve the required standard on completion. Once the first two weeks of your allocated beginner course have passed your membership subscriptions are non-refundable.
Potential new members with previous canoeing experience will be required to demonstrate their ability to the Committee's satisfaction. This will normally take the form of an assessment on the water by one of our instructors at which we will make sure your skills are of the required standard. For safety reasons, if you are unable to do this, you will need to attend a beginner course and pass the assessment.
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Marathon racing takes place at weekends throughout the year with each competing club hosting one or more events. Marathon racing operates on a divisional system so that everyone races against people of a similar ability. A newcomer to racing would start in Division 9 and race over a course of about 4 miles (which should take about 45 minutes). They would then progress through the divisions as they improve, maybe eventually reaching the highest divisions which race over a 12 mile course. Sprint racing takes place during the summer months, with the main events being five national regattas at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham. The races are over distances of 200, 500 and 1000 metres, and are also run in ability classes to ensure close races. The club competes in the annual Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race which is 125 miles of non stop paddling down the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading and then down the river Thames. This Easter event is the longest non stop endurance race in the world. Training for this event requires a very high level of commitment over the winter months, and as part of the preparation we also compete in the Waterside and Thameside Series races in January and February each year. Race training takes place on most days during the year, and on weekday evenings from March to October. To reach the top level of competition requires great dedication and twice daily training, but dont panic if that sounds a bit too much for you, as paddling once a week is quite sufficient to start you off in the lower divisions, and we can give you all the coaching and advice you need to help you improve. The racing team members also use the clubhouse facilities for weights and indoor training during the winter months.
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The touring group travel all over the country paddling on various rivers in a variety of boats including open canadians. These trips can range from a day trip to a local river in Kent, to a week long canoeing and walking holiday in Scotland. Rivers regularly visited include Cuckmere, Ouse, Mole, Rother, Wye, Avon, several canals including the Royal Military canal, various parts of the Thames & Medway, and the occasional trip on the sea. Some tours are more strenuous than others but most are fairly relaxed and the tour organisers will always be able to give you more details if you are unsure about water conditions. Touring in a canoe or kayak is a great way to see the waterways of Great Britain as you can travel along peacefully and enjoy the countryside, wildlife and the company of the rest of the group.
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Recreational paddling is the term used to describe the activities of the group who mainly use plastic general purpose boats for their activities, which are less formal and might involve exploring the tributaries of the river or playing some canoe games. This group meets most Saturday mornings at the clubhouse and also for various other activities during the year at the club and other locations.
Other Canoeing Disciplines
The club occasionally has members who participate in canoeing activities not generally possible on our part of the Medway e.g. slalom, white water racing, sea paddling. These members may from time to time be willing to organise activities for other members to take part in but the club cannot ensure their continued availability. Describing the club in sections may give the impression that you have to choose which type of activity group you want to join in with. However this is merely to assist in describing our activities and there is no reason why you should not join one group one week and a different one the next. Indeed the Club encourages you to do this so that you can broaden your experience and explore all the different aspects of the sport.
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What You Can Expect From Us
What The Club Expects From Members