Tuesday, 27 October 2009

John Anderson & Stability

John Anderson in his Nordkapp
Hunter paddler John Anderson has written a superb summary of the concept of stability on the excellent Hunter Klan website. A man of science, John has managed to capture in very simple terms the idea that some boats get more stable as they are loaded, that secondary stability is a measureable & important quality, and that this is a very important consideration when you're trying to decide what is best for you for your style of paddling. The article has been posted on our Articles page in the left menu, or you can see it by clicking the link HERE.
Thanks John for permission to reproduce....

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Chris Walker in the Rapier 20

Adventurer Chris Walker is the latest addition to the 'Rapier Club', having taken delivery of his shiny new boat last month. He's put together a great little video of a recent blast on the harbour in the Rapier, complete with a few rolls & some high octane speed! Click the image above for the vision.
Chris is an adventurer and motivational speaker who regularly travels the globe leading treks for private individuals & groups. You can see his website HERE.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Queensland's First GT

Queensland kayaker Graham Dredge has had his maiden paddle in the first Rockpool GT to head north of the Tweed. After a wild test paddle which included the charge of the Orca Brigade, Graham was sold on the terrific alround capabilities of this head turning new design from Rockpool.
Look our for the glitter & starfish on the waters of SE Queensland...!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Big Dog...woof!

Coming in November for demo paddling & custom orders, Britains newest & fastest growing whitewater brand, Big Dog.
Owners Peter Orton, Jason Buxton and Andy "Snakey" Whiting, from Valley fame, have all held down influential development and managerial roles within the paddlesport industry. As paddlers they have represented Great Britain on countless occasions. Many of the kayaks already accepted as benchmarks within white-water, sea, surf and squirt paddling were designed or developed by one or more of this team. Despite Big Dog being a new venture there really are few other companies, anywhere in the world, with this level of experience on their books.
Big Dog has only one focus, making the very best whitewater kayaks available!
We’ll have stock on hand of the Flux, Force & Kaos. Contact Mark or Rob to arrange a blast in the most radically designed playboats to hit the scene in years….

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Valley Aquanaut

It’s just over a year since I took delivery of my shiny Carbon Kevlar Valley Aquanaut, and I thought it an opportune time to reflect on the boat & what my impressions are now that I know it so well. The first thing that strikes you about the Aquanaut is the reassuring stability when things get rough. I find myself reaching for the camera to take a shot of someone engaging in the rebound or swells around Sydney while my paddling partners have their hands firmly glued to the paddle.
No question, the predictable secondary stability of the boat provides a superb platform. Of course, a stable boat is often hard work to edge turn or manouver, but the designers of the Aquanaut have overcome this with a medium rounded chine which allows you to drop off the keel line with a small edge or lean. The ease of hip control isn’t as pronounced as it is on a Nordkapp, where you can really control your boat with the tiniest of movements once you get the hang of it, but you definitely don’t need to be overly strong to steer the boat with your core.
As far as speed goes, on dead flat water I reckon it hits the wall at about 8.6kmh, based on a series of timed flat water paddles where the aim was to go fast. On the sea however, where the power of a wave releases the planning section of the hull, I’ve cruised the 22km Sydney coastline in just under 2 hours. This is due to the fantastic surf-ability of the Aquanaut. I’m yet to paddle a sea kayak that latches onto the power of a following wave, or glides better down the back end of an oncoming swell than my Aquanaut. In beach or bar-break surf, this boat is sitting on the royal podium with maybe only the Avocet (which I can’t fit into) and the North Shore Atlantic superior. The great surfing characteristics of the Atlantic & Avocet however are at the cost of a little boat speed, so there are always swings & roundabouts. Unless the surf has been big, it’s almost impossible to get the bow to dig in & endo, which most people would regard as a quality to be cast in platinum. I personally quite enjoy a good endo when I’ve planned it…!
Despite some big impacts & a torturous regime of boat punishment, there are no signs of cracking or structural damamge, and I've never had as much as a drop of water in any of the hatches. My clear hull, despite the howls of protest from local boffins about how fragile it would be, remains as shiny & strong as the day I took the boat out of the wrapper. Clearly the critics of clear carbon kevlar hulled kayaks in Australia haven't seen the way the Valley guys make them....Where I’m lacking any real experience is in packing & paddling the boat for an extended trip, however Brian Towell came back full of praise for the boat after paddling his Aquanaut across Bass Strait in February. Rob Mercer took his Aquanaut on a 150km paddle in November last year & commented on the loss of real sportiness in the boat when packed, but that with care in weight distribution the trim of the boat could be adjusted to make the most of the day’s conditions. Not every boat can do everything, & I can safely say if I was heading off for a month I’d be in a Nordkapp, rather than my trusty Aquanaut, for the extra waterline length & carrying capacity.
My paddling is confined for now to day & overnight trips, short blasts in the surf or around the caves & cliffs of Sydney, and the Aquanaut is a boat I am well & truly smitten with, for it’s ability to provide a superb platform & feedback in the water in which I like to paddle. I’ve paddled other designs which are faster on dead flat water, others which can carry more gear or are ‘easier’ to paddle, but none which react so beautifully to the motion of the sea

Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown DVD

We've just placed an order for the first bunch off the presses, of Gordon Brown's excellent new instructional DVD, Sea Kayak. Those who have read his excellent book of the same name will appreciate the straightforward & insightful style in Gordon's instruction, and this film has been made with Simon Willis, a sea kayaker & film maker with years of experience. I like to do my instructing as part of a trip, where you can stop at various features & sea states & work on a new skill or stroke, & that's exactly the format Gordon follows on this terrific high definition offering. Viewers can return to study the coaching sessions, which use freeze frame and slow-motion, to analyze techniques. Once described as ‘Sea kayaking’s ObI-Wan Kenobi’, Gordon Brown owns and runs Skyak Adventures with his wife Morag on the Isle of Skye. As well as introducing novices to the sport in one of the most beautiful yet challenging parts of the world, Gordon trains and assesses to the highest level within the British Canoe Union. Click the image above to see a preview of the DVD.

Reviews have been glowing:
“fantastic...less like a textbook and more like a documentary”
PaddlingInstructor.com
“a DVD to watch time and again...for both education and inspiration”
SeaPaddler.co.uk
"Dynamic coaching in inspiring scenery. Gordon shows strokes in calm conditions followed by 'oh my god' conditions, displaying the same techniques in both."
Justine Curgenven / This Is The Sea

Friday, 2 October 2009

Orca off Sydney Heads

Orca or Killer Whale (artist unknown)
On a paddle yesterday out through Sydney Heads with Rob Mercer & Graham Dredge, I had one of the most amazing wildlife experiences of my life. It began when we noticed a huge amount of splashing & water disturbance on our way back across from North Head.
Rob & Graham before the cetaceans stampede
We saw a very big pod of dolphins about 300m across heading our way like freight trains, blasting through the water, breaching & diving, with the occasional very big splash that seemed to come from below. Rob was looking one way & Graham & I another as the mayhem got closer, and he said, rather loudly 'that's a very big fin for a dolphin....' We all scanned the water for further proof of 'something unusual' & saw a couple of very large, black pointy fins powering towards us obviously in pursuit of either the dolphins or whatever the dolphins were chasing. I caught a flash of black & white just as Graham said 'Killer Whale's eat great whites, don't they..?'
Graham Dredge picking his way through a North Head rock garden in the Rockpool GT
Sure enough, there were two, maybe three orca chasing down the dolphin pod at almighty speed. I can't say I've ever seen a dolphin looking sh-t scared, but I can go to my grave safe in the knowledge that I now have. A bit of research on the web last night indicates that Killer Whales will have a munch on 'Flipper', and the whale watch skippers that operate off Sydney have been reporting sightings of these majestic hunters. A little penguin that we'd seen on the way out was looking decidedly nervous as the cetaceans stampede bustled past. I wondered aloud if the little dude had seen Happy Feet. As always when something as fast as this strikes you dumb, none of us managed to squeeze off a photo. Maybe next time....
Memphis looking twitchy.....

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Kayakers T-Shirts - Addressing the lack thereof....

We've been told many times over the past couple of years that there is a serious dearth of paddling t-shirts out there for sea kayakers. Sure, you can wander around in your whitewater T, looking like a teenager trapped in an old dude's body, but there is not much out there for us sea kayakers to wear to proclaim our moral position to the world. So, we've had a crack at addressing this poor state of affairs, with a couple of designs to allow you, the fashion repressed sea kayaker to finally wear something that reflects your sport of choice.
We've even stuck our toes in the water to see how keen the closet Greenland paddlers are to 'out' themselves to the world, with an unmistakable statement about your quirky pastime, with a Greenland Paddler T. We're waiting with a sense of fear & excitement at EK HQ, & now we know how the staff at the sales day at DJ's feel waiting for the hordes to attack!
Both shirts are premium quality Hanes Beefy T's; they're available in men's & women's cuts, all for the throwaway price of $39, including delivery nationally. What the hell folks, our motto is, if you don't have a go, you'll never know....

The Epic V5 - a ski for you & your mates....

So what to make of a surfski that's 4.3m long, and 60cm wide, with a surf rudder the equal of those found on the big guns like the ...