Friday, 26 February 2010

Video - A Cruise in the V10 Sport

I've been messing around with my new camera mount, & popped it on the deck of my ski on Wednesday to see what sort of vision I could get.
The results are a really good representation of what it looks like paddling the ski, especially the really good bit when you turn around & run back with the little following wind waves.

It's also a good training aid - I can clearly see what my stroke is doing as I continue the long surgery on my forward paddling. The most interesting thing is the difference between my stroke when I'm running into the conditions, compared to when I turn around. One is more metronomic while I'm working against resistance, the later is much more instinctive, not always in great shape, when I'm trying to ride the conditions. At least that's how it looks to my untrained eye, it's all fun....

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tricky Pics....

My new Mac has a few tricks in the photo software dept, which I've been messing around with in my spare time - of course I have HEAPS of spare time - and the results are pretty cool.
This one is a neat little filter in PhotoShop which makes a nice image look even more dramatic.
Here's a couple of examples (click on the pics to enlarge).
Cliff surge at Malabar, photo Rob Mercer
Surfing the North Shore Atlantic, photo Sharon Betteridge
Broughton Island
Chris James - photo Rob Mercer

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Testing our new Camera Mount

I recently took delivery of an excellent new mount for the bow of my boat, which allows me to fix my HD Video Camera to record an on-water video. Yesterday I took Brian Yates & his mate Darren out for a test paddle at La Perouse & took the opportunity to give my new set up a run on & under the water.
My Panansonic Lumix mounted on a Sticky Pod. Test paddle Sunday 20/2/10, trying out the setup on some flat water at La Perouse.
The video is compressed for this format, but the HD results were pretty impressive. I can't wait to get the rig out in some bigger water.....

Friday, 19 February 2010

Epic V10 Sport - Stock now available

We've just landed our first stock of the brilliant Epic V10 Sport Surf Ski, the surf ski that we feel is best suited to sea kayakers looking to expand their paddling into this exhilarating sport.
I have been paddling my own V10 Sport now since December, and have loved every minute of it. I find myself staring at the BOM site looking for wind predictions of 20kn thereabouts, and then zipping down to Botany Bay when they start to arrive. I then paddle straight into the wind as far as I can (generally a good 6-9km depending on where the winds is blowing from), then turn & blast back downwind riding the little sea developed by the breeze, or some days the swell that wraps into the Bay when things are a bit bigger outside.
It's incredible fun - the ski is made for downwind flying & you rip along at speeds unimaginable in a normal sea kayak. You very quickly develop control skills involving your core muscles, and learn a completely new way of paddling. The stability is palpable - about the same as my Valley Aquanaut, taking into consideration that you don't have the points of contact that a decked boat offers. I've given the boat a fair old workout in all sorts of sea conditions, and can testify that Epic's new purpose built factory, now into it's second season of production, is turning out ski's of the highest calibre. While it's not a boat I would fancy endo-ing through a 2m breaking wave, if you're sensible enough to use this boat for it's intended purpose - paddling on open water, rather than as a surf kayak - you'll have yourself a longstanding & sturdy craft.
Transferring back to my sea kayak, I find I'm enormously confident in most conditions thrown up locally, and my acceleration is greatly improved by the low-resistance workout I get with the ski when I'm paddling upwind.
We've had a few people ask lately why we'd bother with these types of boats & this sort of paddling, we're sea kayakers after all. The answer is that this is also sea kayaking, just with a different slant on it, and in a craft that can do different things to a standard sea kayak. I will personally give anything a go in paddling - it's all good as far as I'm concerned, and I don't mind enduring the 'completely hopeless' phase while I learn something new. In the end it all comes back to how I paddle my sea kayak, and all of these things help my development as a paddler. We don't claim to be all things to all paddlers, and can understand that surf ski's aren't for everyone, but those who choose to paddle them will undoubtedly end up with an edge in skills, balance & speed over paddlers who stick to one single boat, one single method of paddling.
For the price of a pretty stock-standard plastic boat the V10 Sport is a fantastic addition to your boat quiver, and will teach you things that take many dedicated years to learn in a wider, slower kayak.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

When the boats fits, when it matters.....

April Davie paddling her Valley Avocet LV (Photo Gary Davie)

Rob's recent excellent article about boat fit - If the Boat Fits - has drawn a remarkable amount of feedback from paddlers around the country. We just wouldn't accept a market where camping stores had only two shoe sizes available, & if your size was nowhere near catered for, you'd be told to buy four or five pairs of socks to make it fit. Yet this has been the standard response in the kayak market here for many years. Even some of the smaller boats in regards waterline length, have beams at or above 60cm, which make an efficent catch for a good forward stroke pretty difficult for a shorter person.
The result has mostly been a palpable disadvantage for smaller framed paddlers in developing their skills. I can hear the chorus - what does it matter really, it's only for the wife & she just wants to plod along in my wake! Well, the recent spike in female paddlers getting super skilled & more than matching it with their male counterparts is of course in no small way down to their drive & determination, but has also come about with the availability of kayaks that actually fit them.
I received a nice email yesterday from Gary & April Davie in Queensland, about the difference a proper boat fit can make, when it really has to. April is new to paddling & had bought an Aquanaut LV in late 2009, but quickly realised that it was too big for her once the wind kicked in - her slight frame wasn't heavy enough to put the boat far enough into the water to make the hull perform to it's optimum.
At the Currumbin weekend, Moira Schwarz kindly lent April her Avocet LV, a kayak designed first & foremost with the needs of 60kg & lighter paddlers in mind. She loved the close fit & the responsiveness & ordered one on the spot.
Gary & April went for a paddle on the weekend where the obs for the period they were on the water show the winds from abeam building from a pleasant 10kn to a challenging 25kn. These were the most challenging conditions that April had been out in. Gary wrote:
"I thought I would give you some feedback which you probably already know about the Avocet LV and small paddlers. Since April got her Avocet LV I find she keeps up with the Nordkapp at cruising speeds, when it gets rough the thing seems to take off and I have to put in extra effort to keep up. On the weekend we were crossing from Moreton Island to Bribie Island, an 18 km crossing. An hour into the paddle we hit rain squalls, 2-3m seas and wind 25/30 knots side on. 2 hours later we landed at our destination in the surf at Bribie. April was able to hold course with adjustments to the skeg, at one stage I struggled to match the tracking of the Avocet as the tops of the waves were breaking off and blasting into the bow of the Nordkapp forcing it downwind. Sorry I don’t have any photos when things got interesting but this one was an hour earlier. It all sounds good now but at the time it was pretty full on. You can see by the weather station recorded data how sudden the change was."
The moral of the story is clear - a smaller paddler in a boat that fits her in proportion, with a low wind profile, a smaller wetted area making it easier to paddle & maintain a cruising pace, more smiles per mile, even when things get a bit hairy.
We have several boats in our range that fit the small paddler profile, including the Nordkapp LV, Avocet LV, & Aquanaut LV (in composite & rotomould), as well as the Avocet & the new Zegul 530, a boat with very similar fit to the Valley LV boats. We are committed to the idea of allowing paddlers, especially the under-catered female & smaller paddlers, a range of boats that fit, so helping them to further their skills.
If you're smimming around in your current boat and for the life of you can't work out why you just seem to be getting any better, give us a call & organise a test paddle.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

New EK Vimeo Channel


We've just started our own Vimeo channel -  click HERE to see the contents. The first video upload is above. We've got some interesting video gear arriving over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for some big water action.....

EK Blog - a new look & URL

Google Blogger have forced a change on the EK blog address & look. From now on it's located at http://expeditionkayaks.blogspot.com/, in case you have it bookmarked or are following it on an RSS feed.
You can, of course, still reach it through the tabs on the top of the EK website....
There are some great new features, including a search box if you're looking for specidif info on a boat, peice of gear, or paddling destination, as well as a much more comprehensive index to search back through older posts.

Monday, 1 February 2010

NSWSKC Rock & Roll Weekend 2010


We are please to announce that we are the Platinum sponsor of the NSWSKC Rock & Roll weekend this year. As part of our sponsorship, we will be giving away more than $4500 in prizes, including a brand new Carbon Kevlar Zegul kayak. We'll be onsite with our huge range of more that 13 demo sea kayaks, including the new Tahe boats fresh from landing in the country.
There are still places available at this blue ribbon symposium, where trips & getting paddlers out paddling on the sea is the aim of the game.
You can book your place through the club website, or by clicking
HERE.

Ocean Paddler Reviews the North Shore Atlantic


The esteemed UK sea kayaking magazine, Ocean Paddler, has just done a review of the North Shore Atlantic, & the new Atlantic LV. It sums up this excellent allrounder very succinctly. You can read the review by clicking the image above. We have just dropped the price on the Atlantic due to some technical economies of scale innovations at Valley, & now offer the Atlantic for $3990.