Quick – what would you do if you were up a creek without a paddle? Ask Lis Farrell – she’s been to that creek and knows where all the paddles are. And what comes next after you’ve been row, row, rowing your boat? Right again, ask Lis Farrell and she’ll tell you – why, it just has to be kayaking of course!
Lis will be an important participant in the 7th annual "Vancouver Island Paddlefest” weekend happening May 13th and 14th, 2006 on beautiful Transfer Beach in Ladysmith. A kayak and canoeing extravaganza, Paddlefest offers two full days of professional workshops, tours, demonstrations, activities, family entertainment, great food and presentations of the very latest in product technology and information to tempt paddlers of every description to set a course there for the weekend. Admission is free; there is a fee for taking part in the various workshop presentations.
A member of the Cowichan Kayak and Canoe Club out of Duncan, Lis has been kayaking the local waters off Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands since 1993. For over ten years as a thoroughly trained and certified guide, she has been associated with Ladysmith’s "Sealegs Kayaking Adventures”, a family-run operation involving everything to do with the kayaking life. Sealegs has been an active part of the growth and development of the Paddlefest into an ever larger community event each year. And because everyone of any ability is encouraged to come out and try kayaking with some of the many available boats displayed by suppliers, Sealegs will be organizing the waterfront patrol and safety aspects of this year’s event. Members of the Cowichan Kayak and Canoe Club will patrol the water area and provide assistance if needed.
Over the course of both days of Paddlefest, Lis will be instructing and demonstrating waterfront safety presentations on "Wet-Exit and Self-Rescue/Recovery” procedures. With many safety and rescue related courses under her belt, she says, "It’s very important for people to know how to get out of the kayak if they tip over. A lot of people feel quite intimidated when they sit in their kayak with the spray-skirt on top – they fear they are trapped if they turn upside-down. So you need to know how easy it is to get out and also how to get back in, because as soon as you try to get up on the kayak, it’ll tip over. There is a certain way to do it and that’s what we teach.”
With a true love for all watersports and a genuine joy in activity, Lis has belonged to many clubs and been involved with health and fitness activities since she was very young. A native of Denmark, she first fell in love with swimming there, was a member of a rowing club and became a keen cyclist, all before moving to B.C. at 18. Marriage and subsequent moves to Quebec, Manitoba and then back to B.C. enabled her to develop and expand her sports loves and experience and led her to teach swimming, aerobics, weight training and fitness, as well as the kayaking now. As an avid paddler, Lis has canoed the lakes and rivers of the Interior, but says she loves the kayaking here on the ocean even more: "It’s so different than canoeing. I think kayaking is easier – you use both sides of your body in the motion. When kayaking you feel very much in touch with nature. It’s great for your body and mind”.
At 69, Lis continues to cycle and swims regularly: she is a B.C. Masters Swimming competitor who recently won 6 gold medals at the 2005 Senior Games. She belongs to the Cowichan Aquannis Master Swimmers in Duncan, who for the record, are the only ones who can verify her claim to a lack of webbing between her toes!
So if you ask her, Lis Farrell can tell you – try something new. When you get involved in a sport or activity, amazing things happen – physical, mental, and social things– and the experiences are so worthwhile. "When you make yourself go and do things, it’s so much better than sitting on the couch.” she says. For this active water-woman, the only natural place to be on this particular weekend in May, will be at Transfer Beach with fellow paddling enthusiasts. She encourages everyone: "Just go to Paddlefest – hopefully with sunny days! – and see everything, try out kayaks and canoes and whatever you can paddle. There’s a lot to see and to learn, there’s always something new, as well as so many people to meet. It’s great fun!” And you know, you just have to believe her.