Roger Chandler Q&A (2)

This is the second instalment of our Q&A with Roger. As the Sea Leader Training and Paddler Development course took place over many days, we had the opportunity to explore our personal behaviours as well as our goals and what effect our frame of mind was having on our progress. Undoubtedly, for some anxiety or fear thresholds can seriously hold back development. For others, it is asserting themselves  as a leader that poses the challenge. And like those two examples, there are a range of attitudes that can help us or hinder us. We discussed and trained in different techniques to help us overcome our personal barriers. This second instalment of the Q&A looks at this aspect of paddler development.


-      We also had the opportunity to explore our personal behaviours and the attitudes that sometimes make us better or hinder our progress:

o   What is your advice for paddlers that lack self-confidence?  Take time out to explore where this comes from and is this something that needs a separate approach? If someone lacks self-confidence, the impression I get is that they don’t trust themselves. Honestly ask yourself and consider, what is it they don’t trust? And is being a Leader of others in a Moderate Water Environment the best move forwards? In many cases it tends to be a comfort zone issue. The comfort zone needs stretching and at the appropriate pace. For example, if its leading others then start with a couple of people you trust and talk to them about the day. Slowly or at the appropriate pace increase the environment conditions until you are moving thorough Moderate conditions. Grow, learn and reflect on your practice. Now introduce those you don’t know, so you begin to create a similar situation, as per assessment.

 If its related to a technical skill like rolling for example, consider how many rolls do you do each time you go out and increase the number. As mentioned earlier don’t set up for a roll. If it’s a real lack of self-confidence, cross training can really help for example swimming front crawl – this puts your face in the water … and rhythm needs to be found with breathing effectively. Get creative.

o   How do you practice being a leader? Consider do I do this in my professional life? If so begin to transfer those skills and abilities. Get a bunch of buddies who are happy to be led and go paddle. Clubs can be useful and many have a peer paddlers option, so as to support aspirant Sea Kayak Leaders. There are many theories on Leadership, have a look, buy a book and try experiment with different style and see what works in different situations.

o   How can we all deal with fear and that internal force pulling us back?  Firstly, fear is important, otherwise we wouldn’t have reached where we are now! Secondly, it’s worth considering who are you doing this all for? If it’s to impress others, forget it. If it’s for ourselves and our motivation is clear, keep on going. Personally, I feel it’s about keeping fear in check and what I have found is its easier to develop the physical and technical ability, first. If this is strong, for example I’ve been going swimming and doing 40 or so lengths front crawl, twice a week. I’m feeling strong and what’s more, I’ve now got a solid roll, because I’ve put time and energy into it. Then guess what? Fear is smaller. Our mind and bodies are linked. Our logical self has a much greater chance of managing and controlling our emotional self. What we feel in the body effects the mind and so on. Performance Psychology has come a long way now and is slowly filtering down to the rest of us.

-    You will be running the course again in 2017. What changes have you introduced this year and why? 

We have 3 days with another high level coach - Nick Cunliffe - working on the programme, so we can have ratio of 1 to 3 and this allows us to work in the environment that suits the individual best. There will also be an assistant guide to further support the programme. Plus, on the middle weekend there is a half days’ intensive forward paddling work shop on the Swellies, with the legend, John Willacy.

-      What general words of advice do you have for anyone aspiring to obtain the Sea kayak Leader Award (BCU 4 Star)? 

What do you hope to gain from achieving the BCU award? What’s your motivation? Be clear on these two questions, because you will have to invest time and energy. Do more than one Sea Kayak Leader training course, gain feedback from others and importantly, self-reflect. Keeping a reflective account on what you’re learning, so you can measure progress. Get bespoke coaching on specific areas you need to address, as this can often involve video feedback and can be really powerful. Book an assessment date 6-9 months ahead, sort out your Leadership Registration (LR) form and work towards this date. If possible, take a few days off or a week before hand and paddle in the area and settle in (after all you have just spent the last 1-2 years working towards this date, so why not approach it and give yourself the best chance. You are worth it!

About Roger:

Roger was introduced to inland and white water kayaking by his dad and brother. From being involved with a youth club he choose to pursue a career in the Outdoors, working in various centres and projects, ranging from the role of instructor, operations manager and technical adviser. During this time Roger gained further national governing body qualifications, such as the level 5 sea kayak coach, the highest British Canoeing (BC) award which is a highly respected award across the globe. 

Roger is a BC Advanced Sea Kayak Leader (5*) sea trainer and assessor, as well as safety training course provider with the BC Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning (CNTP) and the Open Water Navigation and Tidal Planning (OWNTP) course.  He holds a national diploma in youth work, a degree in development training, has over 20 year’s experience of working in the outdoors and is the director of Coastal Spirit.  2017 marks 10 years for Coastal Spirit!

Roger has paddled and led groups in the Southern Ocean and Chilean Patagonia, the Mediterranean Sea, such as, Sardinia and Turkey with a circumnavigation of Sicily (10/2010). Paddling throughout the UK with a 1000 km paddle around Wales (using the canals inland), West Coast Canada, the Gulf Islands and above the arctic circle, to Norway’s Lofoten islands. He has paddled solo out and back to the Isles of Scilly, lead a group across the English Channel and crossed to Ireland.  In 2013 he achieved a long-time dream and paddled the 900 nm around Ireland. Early on in 2016 he paddled with good friend Barry Shaw, around Mallorca, Menorca and completed the 60 km open crossing form Menorca back to Mallorca

Roger is a pro paddler with P&H sea kayaks, sponsored by Reed Chill Cheater with aquatherm spray deck, UK made Mitchell Blades paddles and Kokatat paddle gear.  He has also achieved a Highly Commended, Professional Coach of the year award 2012, through Canoe & Kayak magazine and more details can be seen by clicking on the photo opposite. 

Roger is passionate about protecting the ocean and promoting cleaner seas.  He is proud to be a member of the 250 club and support Suffers Against Sewage (SAS). 

Roger believes strongly that it essential to ensure his personal skills and ability are maintained at a high standard, so on his days off over the Winter, he goes paddling (just started Stand Up Paddleboarding - SUP). He is highly dependable, passionate, cheerful and really enjoys being under the stars next to a driftwood fire ...

The next 4 Star Leader Training & Paddler Development course starts on November 13th 2017. For more information contact To visit & join our Facebook group, click here.

Tagged: sea kayakingkayakingwales4 starBritish Canoe UnionBCU4 star leadersea kayaking coursesea kayaking in walesSea Kayak Leader Award (4*)AngleseyAnglesey OutdoorsRhoscolynPenrhyn MawrMenai Straits