Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Epic 18X Downwind

I'm planning on paddling the Epic 18X in an upcoming trip with Chris & Rob, & have been busy this past week or so testing it out in the context of what we're planning. The new rudder system is of particular interest, as so far it does seem to have revolutionised the way the boat performs downhill.
It was a blustery start to the day, with a solid southerly wind blowing 19-27 knots across the bay, so I took the opportunity to get out amongst the steep little wind waves on offer. I put my head down into the stiff breeze and managed 40 minutes into the teeth of it averaging bang on 6kmh. While the boat does tend to fall off the back of steep oncoming waves this has little or no impact on forward speed, and once I worked out how to manage the boat over the crests I minimised the effect
Turning with steep, quite slow wind waves from astern, I flew back to the shore in just under 20 minutes, mostly on or above 11-13kmh. Where possible I held the boat on the sweet spot of the waves to stop it from charging into the troughs. An indication of just how good the rudder works, and how well it complements the hull is the fact that in that speedy 20 minute burst I didn't use a single stern rudder. In other words I was able to continue being aggressive & chase runners without having to put on the brakes, ostensibly a neccessity when you feel your directional stability sliding on a following wave.
I plan on a longer open sea outing with some more size to the following conditions & will try to get some video as well as a trace to share.
It shows you what innovation can deliver. A boat that was always fast now looks as though it really will handle the kinds of steep following seas that it's siblings in the ski stable are built for. 

4 comments:

  1. Love that Garmin Connect but you don't use your heart monitor? You have some impressive work outs a long the beach a few paddles back for fitness training. Be good to see how hard you are working.
    I've been following Freya's blogs and she seems to be having no end of problems with the rudder on her 18x with it jamming, requiring getting into the water to release it, issues with a spring and she has even broken it one time at least requiring replacement parts. While its innovative, perhaps it needs more work?
    Have you found that paddling into the wind over the waves in the 18x the best approach is to go head into the waves as the plumb bow gets blown around like a ski if you are at an angle to the wind and waves? The head on approach does result in some slamming and speed slowing. Where as with a more conventional bow I've found its easiest to take the waves at a slight angle, like driving smoothly over a judder bar on an angle, the bow is not effected as much by the wind and it stops the kayak slamming over the back side of the wave so the kayak does not slow down or need to be bought up to speed again, how ever zig zaging is longer possibly, but often no slower and sometimes faster than straight into the wind.
    BTW, those Garmin forerunners (I use one too) are not a good gage of speed cause they average your speed over a longer period of time where as my Garmin GPSmap76CSx calculates my speed much more accurately and I can see that when the kayak slams off the back of the wave the speed drops about 1kph requiring being bought back up to speed off the back of each wave.
    Love your blog btw.

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  2. Well Freya is sure putting the boat to a demanding use, so doubtless she'll have suggestions on improvements. I've been really surpised by how well the small increment forward of the stern aids draught & control, & the direct transfer from the footplates is not to be underestimated either in enhancing directional control downwind (like a ski). I will be paddling it in demanding conditions for the next couple of months at least & expect to find anything about the rudder set up that doesn't work so well.
    The 'slamming' thing is often to do with the guy holding the paddle. I read reviews where people dismiss a boat & say 'oh it slams', but my question is 'why were you letting it slam?'. Easing over the crests gives you a breather upwind & also allows the boat to drop more gradually into the following trough & actually surf down the back of the oncoming wave.
    I agree that running slightly off the wave will reduce the likelihood of a shuddering slam, but it's not always practical on a long slog upwind. I prefer to try to paddle downhill, even into a head sea!
    I didn't use my HRM on this paddle as it was too bloody cold to get my kit off and piut it on! I use it every time in training becuase it's the only true indicator of your recovery time, and therefore your improving fitness.
    Your GPS looks good, but I prefer the nice small Forerunner for the front deck, it's simple & has stood up to over a year of misuse!
    Glad you're enjoying the blog, thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Mark.

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  3. Yeah only mentioned the other GPS as I notice how much more accurate it is in showing the drop off in speed over the waves or changes to paddle technique where the Forerunner does not, otherwise the forerunner is fine for fitness training(although one time it showed an average of about 10kph and a maximum of 9.7, couldn't figure that one out) and what I use all the time in the ski these days, GPS only used for extended paddling trips where navigation or other information maybe needed.

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  4. A gps that shows average of 10 and top speed of 9.7? Mate, i could sell thousands of them!

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