We interview Àngel Panicello, expert sea kayak guide

Àngel is one of our most expert sea kayak guides, and he has been working with us for 12 years. Now Àngel will reveal some secrets of his passion: kayaking.

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Àngel Panicello in the foreground on a sea kayak excursion with customers

1. Can you provide any information about yourself, such as your name, your age, your place of birth, and any other information you want to share?

My name is Àngel Panicello Primé. I am 40 years old, I was born in Cambrils and I have been a sea kayak guide for more than 20 years. I have been fortunate to specialize in different waters, from the Mediterranean to Greenland, through the Norwegian Fjords, the Cantabrian Sea or the Hawaiian Islands. That gives you the benefit of insight and application of knowledge from site to site. As with languages, the more you know, the easier the next one will be.

Traveling is a good addiction, because of everything you learn and share in each area, and kayaking, as well as the other sports that I practice, fortunately has made it easier for me. What I am really passionate about is being able to apply my learning when I return and enrich the courses and workshops that we apply at RocRoi.

2. Can you describe your company and your history? Do you work alone or in a team? Have there been any changes in recent years? 

I work at Roc Roi, a leading company in the adventure activities sector throughout Catalonia with four centers distributed throughout the territory: Llavorsí (Pyrenees), Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona), Grau-Roig (Andorra) and La Torrassa (Pyrenees).

In each center we carry out activities in all water states: white water in Llavorsí, calm water in La Torrassa, sea sports in Vilanova and snow activities in Andorra.

I am fortunate to be able to work with an extraordinary team, from the Rabaneda brothers, owners with a deep knowledge of the sector, to interns who constantly remind you of where you come from and how far we can go together.

In recent years, Roc Roi has invested in new equipment every season, such as: hydrospeeds, catamarans, kayaks and technical equipment. Another point of development has been the marketing and sales department thanks to the incorporation of new professionals in the sector and specialization in digital.

Finally, to say that it is thanks to the Roc Roi Consulting branch that we can travel all over the world developing various projects for the implementation and advice of sports companies, including, of course, kayak companies. We are a family business born from river sports which has been adapting and growing little by little based on the market’s need and our motivation to connect all active and adventure tourism with each other. Can you describe your company and your history? Do you work alone or in a team? Have there been any changes in recent years?

3. What is your area of expertise? What would you like to do within your area of expertise? What do your clients ask you most often?

Although I am currently a consultant and sports director in the company, I have never wanted to put aside my work as a sea kayak guide, and thanks to this I have been able to do so in many corners of the world, such as the United Arab Emirates, Greenland, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ireland, Norway, China, etc., to carry out field trips and explorations for the Roc Roi Consulting sector. What I’m really passionate about is personal development through physical activity and sport, integrating it into the specific culture of each country. It is the safest and most professional way to offer our clients a genuine and unique experience with the excellence of our entire team.

Sea kayaking is a sports discipline that offers the best possible sensations to fully integrate into nature in an autonomous and respectful way with the environment. And that is exactly what our clients ask of us year after year when they want to repeat those same experiences in different places. For example, many of them, who have enjoyed sailing with us among the majestic giant icebergs of Greenland or among narwhals and humpback whales, then ask us to repeat said navigation among the beautiful icebergs of the Perito Moreno glacier (Argentina) and vice versa. And it is logical that they ask for it, since in each trip one sees his experience and mastery increased, wishing that this learning never remains stagnant in a single, although incredible photograph.

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4. What were your reasons that led you to choose this job? What are the reasons that push you to fulfill your day-to-day work?

Well, it was all quite natural and progressive. I fell in love with kayaking at 19 years old when I saw the benefits it had for my health, physical condition and mental development. Those good feelings were what I wanted to pass on with passion to my friends, seeing in it a possibility of bringing some improvement to my environment, as well as to the clients of my first jobs.

Then I studied at the INEFC in Lleida the Bachelor’s degree in physical and sports activities, where, among other sports, I did a master’s degree in river and sea kayaking. After my degree I worked in a couple of adventure companies here, one of which is the current one, but at that time I decided to leave everything behind and go live in Norway, a brutal country for its landscapes and culture, where I worked for a time as kayak guide in the Norwegian fjords.

But in 2008 everything took an unexpected turn. Carlos Rabaneda, CEO of Roc Roi, asked me to come back, because he had a very cool expansion project that they wanted me to participate in. From here everything developed in an extraordinary way; You become a kayaker trainer in the federation, to direct a very large adventure company, to initiate non-existent improvements in the sector, to dream how the future of your sector should be, to implement your knowledge around the world and collect the learnings of other kayak cultures, always with the utmost respect and humility towards the magnificent people that you meet and teach you.

What can I say? I did not choose this work, but together we create and fight every day to improve it and create things that still do not exist around us. I think this is a good dynamic to keep the momentum going in an unconscious and beautiful way. When I was studying at university, I never imagined dealing with kayaking activities in the midst of a global pandemic situation, elaborating safety protocols while maintaining the maximum essence of the sport possible, and I think we have dealt with it very well thanks to the ways of doing that we have been doing since. years ago. That gives you barbaric confidence while putting you in your place by seeing how vulnerable we are. How can I not want to do my job every day, if the level of self-demand comes naturally?

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5. What is the process that I must follow to participate in your kayak excursions?

First of all, visit our website www.rocroi.com or www.rocroiconsulting.com, in which our communication team does an excellent job every day to offer all the information, in a simple and clear way, about all the experiences that one can wish with us.

That point is not trivial since it is very important to know how to choose the activity that ends up getting you that WOW I’m going to repeat! Do not be in a hurry when choosing, RocRoi carries out activities for all audiences and desires, even tailored to each one. From our experience with thousands of clients during all these years, we know how to structure that information so that with its brief reading we help the client for their perfect excursion.

And even more important, is that during the activity the client can talk with our guides, who travel through the countries where we have other bases, as well as develop more excursions in our privileged country. In that conversation they will discover first-hand if it is time to experience new challenges and gain extraordinary knowledge of those upcoming excursions.

If now while we are sailing between the coasts of Garraf you tell me: “Angel, I love kayaking! I want to go to Greenland to sail the 100 meter high icebergs among the whales. ” I would answer you: “Of course, look at the videos of those excursions that we have posted on our YouTube channel and be amazed, and ask me everything you want to know about comfort, accommodation, travel hours… and then decide for yourself. ” As simple as that.

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6. What is the average cost for renting a kayak and what form of payment do you have? What does the cost usually include?

The cost of the activities will depend on the type of activity you choose, that is, if the activity includes an instructor, such as the guided kayak trip along the Garraf coast for 2 hours called “Pasifae”, the cost is € 30 / pers . Whereas, if you choose to rent a sea kayak or open sea kayak without an instructor, the prices range between € 13 and € 30 depending on the rental time.

The cost of the activity includes guide and complete material in the first option (kayak, vest and paddles). While the second option includes the same, but without the guide, although we give you several tips before leaving.

All that information, but as I have told you before, it is exquisitely detailed on our website rocroi.com: what do we recommend to bring; level of activity; what includes; duration, etc.

7. In case of bad weather on the day of the Kayak excursion, can the date be changed to another day and what should be done about it?

Roc Roi does not cancel activities due to bad weather unless it is due to force majeure, the activities are carried out in rain without problem. Although if the client decides to change the day of her activity because she does not feel like doing the activity in the rain, she must notify 24 hours in advance if she does not want to lose the reservation.

Sports in nature give us the possibility of enjoying it as it is. Only when there is a thunderstorm, strong wind or poor reliable forecast, we postpone the excursions for safety, for the rest there is nothing better than feeling part of the time as it is.

8. What is the importance of kayaking with certified instructors?

It is a guarantee of knowledge and security. In Roc Roi we have always bet on the training of our guides and also on the guides who do not work with us. Having a serious and professional sector, with strong and demanding competition among all companies is a guarantee of progress and sustainability. At the moment we train someone, we inform them of all our knowledge: we count all the successes to inspire even more, we reveal all the mistakes so that not one is repeated, we invoke the imagination to improve the future and everything necessary to exit the course as an expert guide.

Safety is the most important thing and we need to guarantee it at all times. For this I am left with a phrase that a great university professor and good friend Joan Fuster told me, which I print to all my students as little as I can. He told me: “Angel, you have to foresee everything and make sure nothing happens.”

The client must perceive this attitude at all times from the guide. Certify that such a worker has been trained and with all the skills. It is what allows us to obtain quality in our sector and to be a reference abroad.

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