First Strokes


If you have never been in a kayak, or have already tried kayaking and would like to develop your skills, this clinic offers a great foundation towards your future kayaking ambitions. We’ll teach you the basics of kayaking, including the parts of a kayak, gearing up to paddle and how to enter and exit a kayak from a dock. Then, you’ll learn how to paddle forward, backward, sideways, as well as how to stop and turn. Most of all, you’ll have fun!


Meet your instructor(s) and other participants at 9:30 am at Ocean River Sports, 1630 Store Street, Victoria, BC. Please arrive 10–15 minutes early for your program and check in at the Adventure Centre at the rear of the store. If you are driving, there is pay parking available directly beside Ocean River Sports or in other pay parking lots in the downtown area. You are responsible for payment of the parking fee. (Note: free roadside parking is available on Sundays). If you are parking a vehicle, we cannot be responsible for damage to or loss of your personal items, so please don’t leave valuables locked in your vehicle.

If you are bringing your own kayak, you can drive to the end of the parking lot beside Ocean River Sports to drop off your kayak, then carry it down the ramp to the dock.

If you are providing your own kayak for the program, please allow yourself enough time to unload your kayak. If you wish to make arrangements to drop off your kayak in advance of the program (e.g., the day before), we may be able to store it on the trailer for you. Please contact our Adventure Centre to make these arrangements. If you are renting a kayak from us, your kayak will be reserved for you and located on our dock.

After meeting and greeting all, we will be launching from our dock behind Ocean River Sports.

Full Itinerary – PDF: Itinerary for First Strokes

Equipment List

Please read the following equipment list below carefully, as it indicates what you will need to bring with you on the program. Ocean River Sports stocks many of the items listed. If you need advice or would like to purchase gear, please visit us or check out our online store!

Cotton keeps you cold when it’s wet, and takes a long time to dry. If possible, bring clothing designed for outdoor wear and made from Merino (wool), silk, or synthetic materials, such as polyester, polypropylene, or nylon.

*indicates optional item.

Personal Gear:

  • If you wear glasses, and exptra pair and a retainer strap; if you wear contacts, an extra pair
  • Sunglasses. Include a strap to secure them.
  • Sunscreen: waterproof, sweat-proof, SPF 30 or higher.
  • Lip sunblock.
  • *Waterproof or disposable camera.
  • *Moist towelettes for a quick, waterless cleanup.
  • *Extra car keys in case you lose yours.


  • Comfortable, low-heeled shoes such as sport sandals or running shoes (we launch from a dock, so your feet should stay dry).
  • Comfortable outdoor pants and/or shorts (depending on time of year), such as what you would wear for a light hike.
  • Long-sleeved, non-cotton shirt or long underwear top to protect from the sun.
  • Warm fleece pullover or Merino (wool) sweater to keep you warm in cooler weather.
  • Hat for sun, rain, or warmth, depending on the weather. A broad-brimmed hat works best.
  • Cycling-type gloves to help prevent blistering on the hands. These should be snug-fitting, as loose-filling gloves may actually cause blistering. To keep your hands warm in cooler weather, you may wish to wear wool gloves inside dishwashing gloves, or purchase neoprene gloves or pogies
  • Extra gloves (wool or fleece) to wear at lunch or after paddling.
  • Windbreaker (e.g., nylon jacket that can shed the wind).
  • Rain jacket (with a hood, if you don’t have a broad-brimmed rain hat.
  • A change of warm clothes placed in a marine dry bag (available at Ocean River Sports) or small backpack or duffle bag, waterproofed with large Ziplock™ bags or garbage

Food and Water

  • Water bottle (filled): large enough to hold about 1 liter or 1 quart of water so you can keep yourself well-hydrated.
  • Snack(s).

 Kayak and Paddling Gear

You will need a sea kayak and paddling gear for your program. You can either rent these from us for an additional fee, or you can provide your own sea kayak and paddling gear if you already own or have access to these.

If you are renting a sea kayak and paddling gear from Ocean River Sports (or if a sea kayak and paddling gear are included in the price of your program), you will be provided with the following items as one complete package:

  • Sea kayak.
  • Paddle.
  • Sprayskirt.
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): Canadian Coast Guard approved.
  • Whistle.
  • Hand pump.
  • Throw-line (buoyant heaving line at least 15 meters in length).
  • Paddle float.
  • *Spare paddle (optional)
  • *Sponge (optional): for drying out hatches

If you are providing your own kayak and paddling gear for your program, you must provide the paddling gear listed above, and your sea kayak must meet the following requirements**: (1) is suitable for open sea conditions; (2) has positive buoyancy when capsized; (3) is able to adequately carry gear as required for the program; and (4) has perimeter lines. Please note: recreational kayaks that do not meet the above requirements are not suitable for our programs. If you have questions about the suitability of your kayak, please contact us. If your program takes place in an indoor pool, please ensure your kayak and gear are clean of dirt, sand, and debris.

**Exceptions: (1) whitewater kayaks are permitted on our Rolling clinic; and (2) surf skis or Olympic style kayaks with bulkheads or flotation bags are permitted on our Perfect Your Forward Stroke clinic.


Waiver/Medical Forms

Please review the following form prior to your program. Please sign/initial the form in the presence of your instructor/guide, who will act as your witness.

Ocean River Sports Waiver (PDF)

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