Harald Schlindwein, Software Engineer on Kayaking

My name is Harald Schlindwein and I am a software engineer at Schneider Electric. A mix of things inspired me to choose this job – I have a certain fascination for numbers but also love solving puzzles. A certain love for logic was also a strong pointer towards software development. I lived in Karlsruhe, Germany for most of my life, but a deep love for Ireland brought me to Galway 6 years ago. What I love the most about where I live is having very different and beautiful landscapes around me; Lough Corrib is at our doorstep and the sea just a minute’s drive away as well.

I think it is fair to say that kayaking is my main activity, but I also love sailing and some martial arts (including medieval sword fighting). I became interested in kayaking pretty soon after we moved to Galway. Being surrounded by so much water made it easy to choose a water sport. I did rowing when I was young, so I thought kayaking would be something different, but it would still give us a lot of freedom and opportunity without too much weather and tide dependency. Being close to nature, focusing only on the environment around me and negotiating my journey with nature’s power is my main inspiration for kayaking.

The kind of kayak I use depends on the discipline. We have sea kayaks for long distance paddling on the lakes or the sea. For rivers, we use our river runners or creekers, and we have a surf ski and a k1 for some more fitness-focused paddling. Living just minutes away from Lough Corrib, the river Corrib, and the sea opens up many opportunities and allows me to go kayaking at least once a week, if not more often. My goals with kayaking are to get better and keep enjoying it as much as I already do. Sea kayaking in Crete and Tenerife is on my bucket list, as well as a combined sailing and kayaking adventure.

The thing I love most about kayaking is that you leave everything else behind – any stress or trouble. You live in the very moment, negotiating your way with the water and the wind. I have too many memorable experiences while kayaking: the first whitewater trip, the first time paddling around seals popping their heads and swimming with you, and many more. There was this one time when I had a swim on a local river in a small gorge section, climbing up the side of the river, pushing my paddle through some shrubs, my head following, and I stumbled into a funeral – trust me, I was very close to just jumping back into the river!

When it comes to training, strong shoulders are good to avoid injuries. A strong core is also important and will develop over time with improved technique and mileage. Mentally, you need to learn to feel instead of controlling everything with your mind, which is particularly challenging for me. And of course, respect the water and wind.

There is definitely more than tech – I’m a strong believer that you need a passion outside of your work to be passionate in your job. Sport is brilliant in that regard as it also keeps the body fit and balances hours at a desk. My advice for any beginners looking to take up kayaking is to do a course! You will learn the essentials much quicker, which will improve your experience and the fun you can have. Then try out a lot of different disciplines and simply have fun!

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