Marc's WhiteWater Gear Reviews

Stip-Yaks Whitewater Kayakcourse

Lead

Bartjan Konijnenberg.
Almost 50 years of kayaking- and instruction experience accumulated in one social, skilled and demanding man.

Instructors

Expert level, well educated, active whitewater athletes; a position reached through merit.

Location

Durance valley (France) and surroundings. The Stip-Yaks camp is a dedicated section of the relaxed La Cabane campsite on the shores of the Durance.


The Course

The first Dutch company to organise “white water” courses, for over 40 years. Typically, Stip-Yaks kayak-courses last for five days, starting on Monday, using the best stretches of river, with a maximum of 5 people per instructor, throughout the season. Pleasure and learning in a relaxed way is the essence. The choice to participate with your own gear or Stip-Yaks gear is entirely up to the students. Participants are being transported in shuttle vans.
Stip-Yaks special-courses are children kayaking and courses for more experienced paddlers: Rivieres Sauvages (the wildest), ww Safety, Rodeo Moves, Sea kayaking, and Slalom Performance.

The Stip-Yaks website contains their program and all other relevant information, in Dutch, English and French. Instruction can be given in those languages as well.


Course levels

  • B1 – Beginner without whitewater experience
    (Equivalent to the international Class I, Beginner. Starting at fast moving water with riffles and small waves.)
  • B2 – Beginner with some whitewater experience (minimum 5 days course)
    (Equivalent to the international Class II: Novice level. Mastering straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional manoeuvring may be required.)
  • G1 – Advanced Whitewaterboater (More than 2 years experience)
    (Equivalent to the international Class III: Intermediate level. Mastering rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Complex manoeuvres in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended)
  • G2 – Whitewaterboater home at ww 4
    (Equivalent to the international Class IV: Advanced level. Mastering intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. A strong eskimo roll is mandatory.)


The Program

During a typical course, each morning starts with a briefing at the campsite.
Underneath, a detailed program summary of the week I was at Stip-Yaks: week 32, 2020. The program, of course, is ever changing due to water levels and the abilities of the participants.


Advanced program

  • Monday
    • Technical practice at the L’Argentière Canoe Slalom Course, Class III
    • Getting to know each other whilst running the Durance: L’Argentière-La Roche de Rame, 3,5 km, Class II-III
  • Tuesday
    • Middle Guisanne, Le Monêtier les Bains – Chantemerle, 10 km, Class III
    • Lower Guisanne, Chantemerle – Briancon, 6 km, Class IV
  • Wednesday
    • Middle Guil. Le Veyer – Lac de la Maison de Roy, 6 km, Class IV
    • A collective BBQ.
  • Thursday
    • Ubaye, Le Martinet – Le Lauzet, 7 km, Class III – IV
  • Friday
    • Upper Guil, the Chateau Queyras Canyon and L’Ange Gardien Canyon, 3,5 km, Class IV – V
    • Middle Guil, Le Tunnel – Lac de la Maison de Roy, 3 km, Class III – IV
    • The collective “course-closing dinner”.


Beginner to Novice program

  • Monday
    • Durance, Eygliers – Saint Clément, 3 km, Class II
  • Tuesday
    • Lower Guil, Vallée des Masques – Saint Clément, 6,5 km II
  • Wednesday
    • Technical practice at the L’Argentière Canoe Slalom Course pond.
    • L’Argentière Canoe Slalom Course run, Class III
    • The Durance: L’Argentière-La Roche de Rame, 3,5 km, Class II
    • A collective BBQ.
  • Thursday
    • Durance, Briancon – Prelles, 4 km, Class II-III
    • Middle Guil, Les Guibertes – Chantemerle, 6 km, Class III
  • Friday
    • Lower Durance, Saint Clément (via Le Rabioux) – Embrun, 15 km, Class II – III
    • The collective “course-closing dinner”.


My honest subjective opinion

I took part of an Advanced course (G2) in August 2020. Our, pre-selected, 4-person group covered ages from 55 up to 64 years old. I brought my own gear.

This is a core kayaking course with a heart. A strong focus on teaching technically correct kayaking, but with a smile. Focussing on interesting and beautiful stretches of river (led by water levels). The instructors are well trained in kayaking and teaching, whilst being very amicable. The small (carefully composed) groups allow an individual personal approach, resulting in a tailored and steep learning curve for each student. There are plenty of kayaks available to try and see what boat suits your level and technique. The course, the campsite setup, the BBQ, the closing-dinner, it all adds up to a great ambiance, right across the different groups. There is loads of dedicated focus whilst on the river and during instruction. Besides that everything is very laid back and relaxed.

An intensive educational course, with plenty of opportunity to relax, making this a fulfilling, rewarding and yet fun week.
Highly recommended!


Impressions

Advanced course: Image- & Video Gallery


Beginner to Novice course: Image- & Video Gallery