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.
- Greenland T - a joyful, low volume boat that manoeuvres beautifully on edge whilst also having good upper end speed & hard tracking on flat water. Falsely characterised as a narrow Greenland style-only boat, it planes nicely on spilling surf waves and bounces around with plenty of playfulness in the rough water typically found in our home waters off Sydney. Price $2990 (composite)
- 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), $2695 (RM - Etain 17'5 and 17'7 only).
- Tiderace Xcape - Price $4090
- Valley Aquanaut LV RM - Super rough water performer, especially in surf, with Valley's typical 'notchy' secondary stability, which tends to harden up as the water gets rougher & rougher. Our most popular 'second' boats among those with a long-haul oriented first boat. Price $2595 (RM).
- Valley Avocet RM - A cult tide race surfing boat in the UK, playful, nimble & built for rough & breaking water. The boat of choice for the rock gardeners up & down our coast. ON SPECIAL NOW FOR JUST $2200 (RM).
- Reval Midi PE - In many ways the most well designed Brit style rough water boat in the Tahe range, bearing scant similarity to the composite version of the Reval Midi (which we don't stock). Somewhere between a North Shore Atlantic and an Etain 17'5 in handling, a very smooth boat, devoid of surprises in the rough stuff, but harder tracking than a traditional Brit boat. Perfect for novices, and good budget playboat for more advanced paddlers. Price $1890, or $1990 as a package with a Wasabi 650 carbon paddle, NRS C-Vest PFD & Reed Aquatherm Spraydeck.
- Valley Avocet LV - A pint sized sea kayak which has been entirely down-sized to accommodate a smaller paddler, and thus allow the full performance characteristics of a normal sized boat. The only genuine all-round boat we've seen for paddlers in the sub-65kg weight range, who want a performance boat for rough water. Price $4190 (composite)
- Tiderace Xcite - Our most recent arrival into EK, and a difficult one 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 HERE. Price $4290 (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 LV - simply, and still to this day despite a plethora of boat designs washing through our range over the years, the most complete sea kayak I've ever paddled. Pity is that I don't fit into it except for those rare weeks when I'm in pre-expedition condition! The Nordkapp LV is quick, elegant, gets better and more predictable as the sea state goes the other way and runs true & effortless downsea. We could rattle on about it here, the simple fact is you should try one out one day if you get the chance. Price $4190 (composite).
- Valley Nordkapp - the original British sea kayak in name only, now re-worked so subtly & decisively as to be almost a different craft to that piloted around the various remote headlands of the world throughout the 1970's & 80's. 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. Price $4190 (composite)
- Valley Gemini Sport - 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 standard 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. It's also a great price, just $2990 in fibreglass.
- Tiderace Xplore Series - A boat with the lines & grace of the Nordkapp, without the extremes of performance that you either love or find scary. Rob has written an excellent review of the Xplore L which you can read HERE. Price $4290 (G-Core)
- Tahe Reval - Looks suggest a traditional Brit boat inspiration, but performance surprises with a bouncy secondary stability that reminds me of the famous Nigel Dennis Explorer. The Reval tracks harder than your average Brit boat, while it shares a lighter initial stability along similar lines to the Nordkapp, it has a very solid secondary point and good speed. It's also a substantially cheaper price for barely discernible performance differences. The Reval is a boat we enjoy having in our range. Price $2990 (Carbon Kevlar)
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.
- Rockpool Taran - 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 30 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 arent agressive in rough water & competent in downwind conditions, but the most exciting sea kayak I've ever paddled. Price $4490 (composite)
- Tiderace Pace 18 - Fast enough on the flat for an average flat water racer (Mark) to record 11.08 in the Hawkesbury, yet stable enough on a cranking following sea to run at speeds usually associated with surf skis without the slightest sign of broach (see the video below with the Pace 18 and Taran running fast down the Sydney coastline). An expedition boat for the alpine-style packer, with speed and acceleration to burn. Price $4490 (G-Core Lite)
- Tiderace Pace 17 Tour - The idea of 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 pout thinking for the past two years. There is no question that the Taran is a boat that rewards skill, fitness and sea skills, however we are confident that the new Pace Tour 17 will allow entry to the world of fast touring boats to paddlers who have yet to bring their skills up to the levels required to get the most out of a Taran. A very exciting development and the sign of things to come in the sea kayak expedition market. Price $4490 (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 $3990
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.