Thursday, 8 December 2011

Training Paddle in the Epic 18x & Wind 585

Training for our One Degree South paddle is now in full swing. I grabbed some time yesterday with a rare blank schedule & Rob & I went for a training paddle out to sea from La Perouse. I was paddling the Epic 18x, my boat for the challenge, & Rob had the Wind 585 while his Taran is being modified.
Conditions were pretty benign, a 12-15 knot breeze and a typical little sea running on top of a metre or so of swell. 
We ran 7km straight out, averaging about 8.4kmh into the wind. I shot some video of Rob in the 585 as I realised we have precious few movies showing how our boats actually look moving along in the sea. Reviewing the footage later, the 585 is a very sleek creature in the ocean! Rob was impressed by how well it chews the distance with a minimum of fuss, & once engaged with moving water just how much the stability hardens up.
We saw a container ship leaving the bay as we neared the turnaround point so headed north to dodge the shipping lane, whereby I managed to once again whip up a bluebottle & loop it neatly around my throat. As a warning for out trip it was most timely. I will now develop my paddle clothing to try to prevent this from happening again, as bluebottles are definitely going to out in abundance in the weather & wind conditions we are planning for.
The run home was a hoot. My GPS trace had me running mostly between 10-15kmh as I threaded the little runners bad into the bay. The new rudder system on the 18x is definitely a success. The only time I broached unexpectedly was when I backed off to try & get cute on a wave, allowing the boat to lift back up the following wave & release the stern into thin air. My weight was back, the rudder lost all bite & I skewed off to the right. Noting this error, I kept the foot down for the next 20 minutes & once again didn't have to call on a corrective braking stroke once. I'm salivating at the idea of 110+km downsea in this boat.
We pulled into Little Congwong Beach & swapped boats. Rob paddled the final 3km home in calmer water & marvelled at the lack of resistance in the 18x hull, and the engaging responsiveness.
I got a go in the 585 & there was a definite contrast. If the 18x is the Spitfire, the 585 is the Lancaster. Hard tracking, solid as rock on the water & as fast as any traditional sea kayak out there. For a long expedition with a group you'd be hard pressed to find a more user friendly design, capable of carrying monumental amounts of gear.
The next objective is to wait for a hanking Nor Easter & get out amongst it for the final judgement on the boat.

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