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Sea Kayaking Is Attracting New Fans in Wave After Curious Wave

October 13, 1994|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a member of the Times Orange County Edition staff.

In warm water left over from summer and with fewer motorboats to get in the way, autumn is a great time for sea kayaking, according to Joanne Turner, one of the local pioneers of the booming sport.

Even just a few years ago, kayaks were a rare sight in local waters, but that's changing fast, thanks in part to Turner and her business partner, Doug Schwartz, who started offering lessons in the late '80s.

Last year they opened Southwind Kayak Center in Irvine, and business is booming, Turner said.

"It's no longer those lone intrepid souls doing something no one else is doing," Turner said. "Now it's more like, 'Look at all those people kayaking. I want to try that.' "

The shop offers a variety of lessons and tours. On Monday, Turner will be taking a group to Tonga in the South Pacific. Closer to home, folks who want to get a taste of the sport can try the "First Strokes" class, which will be offered Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at Upper Newport Bay (an afternoon session may also be added; call for information).

"It's designed for those who are new to sea kayaking or want a refresher course," Turner said.

The goal is to get participants comfortable in calm water, and topics include a basic equipment orientation, an introduction to paddling techniques, and even some planned capsizes as part of a lesson in kayak safety. There is one instructor for every six students.

Other classes this weekend are already full but are offered all year, including basic instruction in open ocean kayaking and in negotiating surf. Class fees include equipment. (Wet suits are not needed yet, but will be later in the season. Rental is $10.)

It is possible to enjoy kayaking quiet bays without instruction, but even a single lesson can greatly enhance the pleasure.

"The nice thing about it, you can have fun even if you don't know what you're doing," Turner said. "But what most people end up doing is more of a puppy-dog paddle. (Kayaking) gets easier when you know you're doing."


Air It Out, an NFL-sanctioned 4-on-4 football tournament, returns to Orange County on Oct. 22 and 23 at UC Irvine. The winner moves on to the championships held in conjunction with the Super Bowl in January.

Sign-up deadline for the UCI dates is Friday. Registration is $125 for each five-person team (four on the field, plus one substitute). For information, call (310) 829-5226.

* What: "First Stroke" sea kayaking class.

* When: Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to noon (and on other weekends throughout the year).

* Where: Classes meet at Upper Newport Bay; offered through Southwind Kayak Center in Irvine.

* Whereabouts: Call shop for meeting location.

* Wherewithal: $60 (includes use of kayak and other gear).

* Where to call: (714) 261-0200.

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