Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Getting down with the Gray Raider

One of the more unique tourists we seem to have engendered is the 'Kayak Demo Jetsetter'. These are a rare breed of paddler who will jump on a plane or take a long drive to meet us on our turf to get out amongst it & test out the range of boats we offer. It's reached the stage now where we entertain upwards of a new regional or interstate guest every week, travelling in for the day or weekend in pursuit of certainty about the expensive boat they've had their eye on. 
Rob has even sorted a timetable whereby you can fly into Sydney Airport, catch the airport train to the Quay, hop on the Watson's Bay ferry & be in the cockpit of the boat of your desire within an hour or so of landing, about to head into the challenge of the Sydney cliffs.
A recent visitor was the almost mythical Gray Raider, AKA Gavin Cook, a legend in the shearing shed…I mean the Queensland paddling scene where he has a great reputation as a skilful & strong sea kayaker.
Gav has been curious about the Taran, and so did the right thing in bringing his lovely wife Kath down for the weekend, with the proviso that the Friday arvo was dedicated to some paddling.
As is often the case to seaward of La Perouse, the view from the car wasn't too intimidating, but conditions on the water were a little more vertical.
Wave riders buoys were recording a steady 2m swell, with occasional 3-4m bombs, there was an easing 20 knot breeze & enough wind generated sea on top of all of that to make the odd fast moving swell catchable, if you got it right.

We headed out into the conditions at a good clip, the GPS registering 8kmh & over for 5km into the wind which was probably down around 12-15kn on the nose. The lumpy conditions were raised up by the recorded bigger sets every now & then & kept the three of us on our toes. Gav recalled an alarming moment when Rob swung straight across his bow for no apparent reason, and decided to alter course accordingly in case there was some hidden bombie that Rob had spotted. There was, he just didn't bother to tell Gav….
On the screaming run back home I spotted a large black fin sticking out of the water, & headed across to investigate. Rather than a pod of Orca or a basking Bull shark, I found to my delight a large male Fur Seal just lolling around in the messy seas as if he was sleeping on a Love Sack. He must have been a NZ Fur seal becuse as I got closer he let go a fishy tirade & all I could make out in the wind was the word 'Bro'.
The little video above captures a bit of the action & my close encounter with Flipper.
This was one of those days that challenge, exhilarate & leave you wanting more, bigger waves, faster rides, and in awe of the sort of show the sea is capable of putting on.


  1. Mark, you changed your style of tunes to your vid, a bit more G-Dawg style this time :-)

  2. It was the nearest thing I could find to 'The Theme from Shaft'. Have you self administered a street moniker....?


Ten Years of Expedition Kayaks - by Mark Sundin

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