Winging it at Walney

Calling on Mike at Rockpool to collect the boat last weekend, I borrowed a set of wings - the Legend Small Fusion. Wanting to try the paddle in calmer conditions first, I used it for the first time today at Walney.
Crossing the channel close to the top of a Sp tide, I ferried towards Piel Island first, adjusting the blades several times on the way. I soon found the feather and length that seemed to suit best and was delighted with the feel of these lightweight, small teardrop blades. I have tried other wings but none have come close to these, which immediately felt right - well behaved and very smooth throughout.
I stopped briefly on Piel to make adjustments to the seat - another item borrowed last weekend. I have wanted to try the bucket seat that Mike fits as standard in the Taran, for some time, and was also keen to do away with the back rest. The bucket seat was comfortable, but the seat pan is a little shorter and I had placed it too far back. Bringing it forward on the rails one notch seemed about right.
The combination of wings, which focused attention on technique - particularly in terms of not extending the stroke too far which would cause the paddle to dive - and the seat - which helped maintain better posture, was working well and I powered across the flow to the southern tip of Walney.
Here the tide was running in my favour and I kept pace with a yacht heading out beneath towering cumulus.
I wanted flat water initially, to focus on what the blades were doing and get an accurate impression of how they behaved - but I also wanted some moving water. With a reasonable size of tide, some good waves form off the groyne on the south-east tip of Walney, and as the tide falls and the wave here drops, a second area of shallows a few hundred yards west, can also give rise to a few waves which make for good sport.
In the flat conditions today, the race was never going to reach any size, but the swift flow and standing waves of up to 2ft which formed for a short while, provided a superb testing ground as I became accustomed to the Legend Wings. Even the small blade provided sufficient grip to accelerate quickly and while I out-ran many of the waves quite quickly, occasionally a steeper wave would form with the bow burying - I was surprised and pleased here to find that using the wings felt intuitive - and I cut back and forth across the waves, surfing, carving around and rolling and generally just having a huge amount of fun. For someone who has tried a few wings but never felt particularly happy with them, sticking rather doggedly to flats, this was something of a revelation.
As the flow eased I pulled ashore, watching the gathering storm out in Morecambe Bay. The first rumbles of thunder sounded as I launched a little later and as I rounded the point lightning coursed through the rapidly darkening skies. Still wearing just a base layer (after changing to a dry one on the beach) beneath my BA, I ferried across the channel rapidly as the rain began to fall, once again keeping pace with a yacht heading up the channel. Sitting in the small eddy behind the channel buoys, I returned his wave before crossing to Roa Island...
...and the calm bay beyond, having already resolved to acquire a new paddle...

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