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Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Review: the Rescues, Vol. 2

Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown review

Simon Willis, a journalist and film maker, and Gordon Brown, a world-class BCU 5 Star sea kayaking coach, have teamed up to make Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 2, the Rescues. This DVD, like Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 1, combines a sea kayaking journey to a stunning destination with instructional components. The end result is a DVD that you can watch in a couple of ways. You can watch the instruction intertwined with the journey, the journey alone or the instruction alone. It’s like three films in one. For Volume 2, the paddlers head to the Islands of St. Kilda, which are rocky islands west of Scotland at the “end of the world.” The instructional components concentrate on sea kayak rescues.

For long-time followers of PaddlingLight, you might remember that we included Volume 1 in our 2009 Great Gift Ideas for Paddlers.


The trailer gets your heart pumping, but does the DVD?

Short answer: Yes.

The Journey

During Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 2, the journey takes a group of paddlers to the Islands of St. Kilda, a rocky archipelago west of Scotland. The group of paddlers ranges from intermediate to expert and the scenes of the journey range from visiting old villages, paddling into caves, holding position under stunning sea stacks, visiting a military base and more. Willis intertwines the history of the area into the narrative. He even has a segment about the first kayak journey to the islands.

During the journey sections, I found myself talking out loud about how amazing the scenery was. I’d love to kayak there.

The journey is enjoyable when watch alone or when watched with the instructional component.

The Instruction

There’s a huge volume of information in the instructional sections. In includes so much information that other instructional DVDs that I own now feel pretty thin. In fact, I wasn’t able to absorb it all in one sitting. I consider myself well-practiced, read and informed, but there was a lot on this DVD that was new to me or different enough from the way that I do it to make me think hard about making a change. The DVD covers assisted rescues starting with the fundamentals, such as the heel hook and t-rescue. For intermediate or advanced paddlers, this will be review, but for beginners, it’s a great introduction. The heel hook is a more recent introduction into rescues and it’s great to see it incorporated into the video. That makes it feel very up-to-date. After a flat water demonstration, you see the same rescues in rough water.

From assisted rescues, Brown takes you through balance exercises and self rescues, including much to the surprise of some Midwestern coaches who frown on the paddle float — you know who you are :) — the paddle float rescue with a simple variation to how it’s taught in the states. You learn about reentry and roll. After that you end up learning about tows. There’s a section on applying the skills to rough water, and that’s followed by a rough-water, technical landing segment, which is pure gold. The video finishes with a section on learning to anticipate problems in rough water.

The instructional section includes lots of tips and information that will keep you glued to the screen. I couldn’t help but want to go paddling after watching the video. Even though there’s almost an information overload that requires multiple viewings, the video doesn’t bog down. It keeps an upbeat attitude.


This is a long video and you’ll feel like¬† you got your money’s worth after watching it. There’s so much information that watching it just once won’t be enough. The journey to St. Kilda feels inspiring and the instructional sections will open the eyes of beginners, give intermediate and experts new techniques to try, and it includes enough tips that instructors and coaches will have new ways to challenge their students. All in all this is a must have video for all sea kayakers.

Learn more: Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown, Vol. 2

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One comment

  • Great review Bryan and I quite agree with your positive assessment of this video. I don’t yet have a lot of kayaking dvds in my library so my frame of reference is limited. But, I can say with a great deal of certainty that I really enjoyed watching the video, and I learned a lot too. I’ll be adding my won review in the coming weeks, but it may be redundant compared to yours.
    Bryan S.

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