Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Chasing the Winter Swells


It's been blowing hard from the frigid south here in Sydney since Sunday, and a nice swell has built over the days, fat & fast, our typical long period southerly pattern.
Sean got in touch yesterday for a test paddle in the V10S, after finding his elite ski a handful in rough water, & was keen to find out what the Sport did in big confused conditions. What better way to find out how a boat handles this stuff than to get out amongst it, so on a bleak, windy & bloody cold morning we met down to La Perouse to take the V10S out for a spin.
We paddled east into some lovely big rollers that looked way too fast to catch, with a SSW wind blowing a sea onto our beams. Pretty gnarly, confused & horrible really…!
Things seemed to tidy up as we turned & headed back, and I managed a couple of nice runners, if you don't mind copping a few thumps as you speed along.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Some Rare EK Bargains

We have shipments arriving soon from Valley, Rockpool, Zegul & Tiderace & have to make some room. 
While we're not known for having mad sales, we have just listed a few offerings on our site for kayaks that might interest a few paddlers in the mid winter blues.


We have the demo of the Zegul 520 now available for sale, it's in great nick, near new, & on sale for the great price of $2790, a saving of $1000. There is a nice review of the Zegul 520 by Canoe & Kayak magazine HERE.


We also have a couple of 2011 model rotomoulded Valley Aquanaut HV's on the clearance table, while they're there they are $1995, down from their standard $2695. The Aquanaut HV is the big blokes boat of choice, a playful rough water specialist hull with plenty of room for paddlers in the 90-120kg range. We reckon we could get you into an Aquanaut HV kitted out with a full carbon paddle, PFD, spraydeck & paddle float for under $2500, so ask about a starters deal!
Give either of Rob or Mark a shout to lay claim to one of these rare bargains.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Blowin' in the Wind

We had planned a relaxed afternoon in the winter sunshine down at Yarra Bay, tucked into a protected corner of Sydney's Botany Bay, where we were hoping to have a casual session of ad hoc instructing, and also providing the opportunity for people to try out some of our boats.
A strong wind warning forecast turned it into something entirely different but at least it gave a few paddlers the chance to find out what our boats really can do!
Bill had driven down from the mountains so it only seemed fair to give him a crack in the Nordkapp LV despite some pretty hefty winds & chop blowing into the bay. Without much paddling experience under his belt, he saddled up & paddled with me across the conditions, a nasty little rapid fire, meter high chop with a solid 20+ knots pushing abeam. 
For a boat some consider demanding, Bill was riding the mess like a pro, until the instructor alongside pushed him a bridge too far on an edge & he took an unplanned swim. With the break wall of the port extension a couple of hundred metres away downwind and, well, breaking hard against the wall, I thought it prudent to hook up a contact tow while we worked out a way to get Bill's paddle back.
Bill cutting across the wind
Bill did a great job holding the bow of his flooded Nordkapp hard against by bow while I paddled the two boats together the twenty or so metres to fetch his wayward paddle. With the cockpit completely flooded - I'd deliberately left the deck off during the tow - Bill then resumed paddling away from the break wall to give us some seaway to do a proper empty & get back underway. 
I figured a flooded cockpit is always going to be more stable than a half-flooded cockpit, and so it proved as again Bill showed some natural paddling grace to run a few hundred metres out into the bay. I got him to capsize again once satisfied that we had space & time to do an empty & rescue, emptied his boat using the excellent capsize empty technique & had him back in, deck sealed & off again in about a minute.
Bill then got a crash course in running a short, steep following sea & ran the 1500metres or so back to the beach with great aplomb. He swapped into the Etain 17'5 and immediately recognised the more predictable stability that this boat offers, but in the final wash-up preferred the elegance & responsiveness of the Nordkapp LV. He certainly wasn't left wondering about the rough water capabilities of the design!
Rob had been out in the morning with Gary Forrest & Matt Bezzina & a club group in some lively conditions off Malabar.
Megan running into the conditions (note how far Rob is above Megan in taking the pic!)
Gary Forrest
Gary going down, Roger going up.

After the ocean paddle in the morning, Rob came down to the bay & took Caoimhin out for a crack in the chop as well, giving him a pointed lesson in running a following sea, something the wind-fired sea state was tailor made to provide.
Stephan accepted my challenge to come out in the Taran and proceeded to leave smoke on the water. A bit wary at first in conditions that couldn't be described as easy, he got the hang of the planing hull & was soon cracking long rides down sea. I was trying to foot it with him in the Etain 17'5 but was no chance.

He came back all smiles, described it as FUN, in big letters.
Once the boats were packed we headed across to the Coast Golf Club for the NSWSKC AGM, which was blissfully brief, to the point, & offered more time for catching up with old mates than debating the hard issues of sea kayaking. Rob & I then presented a slide show of our North Reef Expedition, now a mournful memory of almost exactly a year's passing, and then Stephan presented a great pictorial of his 3 week trip in the wilds of Canada.
It's pleasing to see the renewed emphasis on social events in the sea kayak club, their meetings & weekends are great fun.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Yarra Bay Demo Afternoon this Saturday



Rob & I will be down at Yarra Bay between midday & 4pm this coming Saturday, July 21, running an informal instruction & demo session as part of the NSWSKC AGM day.
If you'd like to come down some time during the course of the afternoon & try a boat please let us know in advance, so we are sure to have the boat you're after with us in the range.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Which Kayak for Me….?


The most often asked question we hear, with boat choices available from EK now numbering in the high teens, and each craft selected to slot ever so slightly into a niche of it's own.
Although it's impossible to provide intricate details of each & every design in a single blog post, here's a summary of where the kayaks in our range fit into the broad scheme of things. I've categorised them into three main groups:

1. 'Smile on the Dial' Kayaks

These are the boats in the range that seem to have universal appeal, paddled by a wide spectrum of paddlers with varying skill levels. They are the boats we tend to steer newer paddlers, or paddlers coming to rudderless paddling from a background of ruddered boats towards, as they are typically sympathetic in rough water and very predictable on edge.
  • Valley Etain Series, 17'7, 17'5, 17'3, RM - A successful combination of the sympathetic secondary stability of the Atlantic, combined with a harder tracking hull typical of many Swede form kayaks. The Etain series were designed to flatter, encouraging paddlers out onto the ocean in a kayak that will look after them, while still inherently being fast enough to make them a genuine expedition boat. The Etain boats all carry gear well, their performance isn't hugely influenced by a decent expedition load. Price $4190 (composite), $2395 (RM - Etain 17'5).
  • North Shore Atlantic & Atlantic LV RM - Returned to EK's range in 2016 by weight of request, this cult alrounder has been sorely missed. This is the enrty level rough water skeg boat, in a standard size & also in the LV for lighter paddlers that has universally put a grin on paddler's faces. HERE'S a review Ocean Paddler Magazine did on the Atlantic back a couple of years.
  • Valley Sirona 16.1, 15.1 -  Valley's latest offering in the 'look after you on the sea' category in two sizes, a shorter more nimble boat, with bouncy secondary stability reminiscent of the North Shore Atlantic but with flatter planing hull as is the modern trend. A great starting skeg boat, or a day/play special for the experienced paddlers. Here's a video of the Sirona in action in some fun surf:
  • Tiderace Xcite - A difficult kayak to categorise, straddling as it does the 'smile on the dial' and 'performance' genres. Summarising the Xcite, it's hard not to sound all gushy, the boat is well fast enough for club paddling, runs downwind as well as any longer waterline kayak we've paddled, has rock solid initial & secondary stability & looks after the less confident paddler with aplomb in the rough stuff. Not as elegant & laced with 'vibes' as a boat like the Nordkapp LV, but it's way easier to master. It also surfs like a demon - see our video comparing it to the Valley Gemini below. Price $4390 (G-Core)
  • Tiderace Xcite S - A difficult kayak to categorise, straddling as it does the 'smile on the dial' and 'performance' genres. Summarising the Xcite, it's hard not to sound all gushy, the boat is well fast enough for club paddling, runs downwind as well as any longer waterline kayak we've paddled, has rock solid initial & secondary stability & looks after the less confident paddler with aplomb in the rough stuff. Not as elegant & laced with 'vibes' as a boat like the Nordkapp LV, but it's way easier to master. It also surfs like a demonDesigned for weights down to a 55kg frame. Tiderace's only other genuine small person's design with the Pace 17S, with universally good reviews around the place. Price $4390 (G-Core)
2. The Performers
These boats are aimed at either skillful paddlers aiming to enhance their paddling with a boat that will not limit them, or ambitious beginners who back themselves to get good, fast!
  • Valley Nordkapp Forti - the original British sea kayak revived in 2015. Not a huge load carrying expedition boat, but as with it's low volume sibling a paddlers boat in every respect. For coastal expeditioning & touring the Nordkapp is a joyful sports car of a kayak, a demanding mistress for those with a lower skill base, but the rewards are in the paddling. Here's Rob's thoughts on Five Years in a Valley NordkappPrice $4190 (composite), $2395 (RM)
  • Valley Gemini SP - A game changer in many respects, short enough to fit into the standard car spot available in a block of units, fast enough to foot it on a club trip which clips along at 6-7kmh, and a ball-tearer in the surf (see our video of the Gemini in action HERE). Although designed with the surf in mind, a clever hull shape with more V than you'd normally associate with a play boat gives the boat solid tracking characteristics, and also a surprising turn of speed. If you measure a sea kayak by the ease with which it holds a cruising speed of 6-7kmh, then the Gemini loses nothing for being shorter than the traditional sea kayaks we have come to know. Available in Valley's superb RM layup for just $1990.
3. The Future of Expeditioning
We've firmly held the view that next few years will see a whole new genre of sea kayak popularised, as the idea of fast & athletic touring gains a foothold. It's hard to argue with the numbers even from a single design like the Rockpool Taran, with old sea kayaking speed records falling one by one to paddlers with good technique, fitness & a plan. Our thoughts on what makes a fast tourer are HERE.
  • The Expedition Kayaks Audax - Our own design, launched in 2017 after more than two years of development, testing and prototyping, and proving to be a very accessible, stable and user friendly addition to the fast touring market. It's also the fastest hull in the genuine sea kayak range that we have ever measured. A cracking boat downwind, fast enough to put a sub 11 hour Hawkesbury Classic within reach of a reasonably fit paddler, and built in Australia for tough expeditioning. You can read all about the Audax HERE. Priced from $4490.
  • Rockpool Taran 18 - A reasonably fast boat on flat water, although not exceptional in comparison to designs like the Valley Rapier, this boat has a hull that is unlocked once the sea starts to build from astern. There are about 40 Taran owners nationally, & they're all good paddlers, ambitious & technically sound with a zest for downwind speed. The boat excels with a load, and has the right amount of buoyancy to provide a reassuring ride in the rough stuff. Most definitely a niche kayak, not one for paddlers who aren't aggressive in rough water & competent in downwind conditions, but the most exciting sea kayak we've ever paddled. Price $5290 (composite)
  • Tiderace Pace 17 Tour - A fast plumb bow touring sea kayak, with enough rocker and stability to look after a paddler with average ability, and enough room for a multi day trip, stretching to multi week, has occupied our thinking for the past few years. There is no question that the Taran is a boat that rewards skill, fitness and sea skills, however the new Pace Tour 17 has allowed entry to the world of fast touring boats to paddlers who don't necessarily paddle aggressively all the time. A very exciting development and the sign of things to come in the sea kayak expedition market. Price $4990 (G-Core Lite). Here's a video of Mark shifting the Pace 17 along in some small runners.
  • Tiderace Pace 17S - A scaled down ergonomic form of the full sized Pace 17 Tour, same length, slightly narrower & a little bit quicker, with a cockpit designed to fit paddlers in the 55-75kg range. Price $4990 (G-Core Lite).

  • Tiderace Pace Action (formerly the Evoke) - a 15 footer with radical manoeuvrability in line with it's waterline length, but a terminal hull speed to rival most long-haul traditional sea kayaks. Designed for paddlers in the 65-95kg who don't want to be left behind, light, fun & well capable of extended touring. Price $4990 (G-Core Lite)
  • Epic 18X - Now ensconced in it's second incarnation, that features a revolutionary rudder system, sound & adjustable ergonomics & a proper expedition fit out that includes a day hatch as standard. Off the shelf it's hard to imagine a more comprehensively fitted out kayak, with little or nothing to do to customise other than make use of the factory fitted adjustability. The 18X is probably too quick for the average paddler on the flat to ever reach, and has a proven track record of, well, epic expeditioning to stand on, having recently been piloted around Australia & then Cape Horn by Freya Hoffmeister. Price $4290 
There you have it, a brief summary of our range & where they fit in relation to one another, and their design strengths.If you have any questions or queries please feel free to to give either or Rob or myself a bell, or drop us a line. We have a demo boat available in each & every one of the models mentioned above, & will take you out on the sea for a test paddle in live conditions.