Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Tiderace Xtra in Action



Sea kayak designs are moving very quickly towards specialisation. We have had one helluva play with the Valley Gemini, and Tiderace have just released the new Xtra in a smaller size for lighter paddlers.

It's also a park & play specialist, with enough wheels to make day touring an engaging pleasure.

Take a look at this video of Tiderace designer, Aled Williams, taking his new toy for a spin. 
A fantastic display of crisp skills in a boat that looks like it moves with his eyes.

Keep an eye on our range in coming months for the new Xtra & Xtra HV.

This is the Sea 5 Trailer


Our stock of Juastine Curgenven's 'This is the Sea 5' is in transit, due to land next week in time for the worldwide launch on March 8. The trailer has just been released - see above.
Surf skis, tide races, beautiful touring destinations, the forboding Tierra del Fuegeo. Looks pretty cool eh…?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Running in the Pace 17 Tour

Rob had the new Tiderace Pace 17 Tour out yesterday on his weekly Tuesday paddle. Conditions were 17-30knots, generating a sea up to 2m running over a well set easterly swell. Perfect for testing the downwind capabilities of the boat, which didn't disappoint…

In the week since receieving our first shipment of the Pace 17 Tour we have had the boat out on dead flat water to gauge it's terminal hull speed, in some small surf, bounce & rebound typical off our local cliffs, and now also tested it in some decent  downwind stuff. 

We'll have some video up later in the week.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Video - Testing the Pace



Chris and I were out yesterday for a head to head demo paddle he'd requested, testing the Tiderace Pace 18 and the new Tiderace Pace Tour 17. 
You couldn't have hoped for a better morning, bright sunshine, a fat swell rolling right over one of our favourite bar breaks, enough bounce around the North Cronulla Reefs to test Chris out and the bonus of a stricken Indonesian trawler on the reef (luckily just re floated ahead of a big storm system).
If it looks like fun it's because it was.
Note, no stand up paddle boarders were injured in the making of this video, but one did his best....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Pre Order This is the Sea 5



Justine Curgenven's latest all action sea kayaking DVD is due for release through Expedition Kayaks in Australia on March 8. 

This is the Sea 5 contains eight adventure films including a 1000 mile kayak around Tierra del Fuego, Sarah Outen kayaking from Russia to Japan, a circumnavigation of Sardinia & touring in Sicily's Aeolian islands.

Also included are features on Paul Kuthe surfing, Turner Wilson rough water rolling, Harry Whelan surfing ferry wakes on the River Thames & Oscar Chalupsky & Greg Barton surf skiing.

Click HERE to pre-order the DVD through our online store for $34.95.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Running on the Sea

Here's an article I posted in the NSW Sea Kayaker's club magazine last year, reproduced with their permission.

Running on the Sea

Finding the Sweet Spot


I have spent a lot of time over the past couple of years trying to unlock the mystery of the ‘sweet spot’ of any particular kayak hull. This is the notion that by tuning in to your particular kayak’s hull shape & performance, you can maximise your forward speed and efficiency, expending minimal effort in doing so. It’s essentially to do with a slightly contorted idea of glide, or the amount of rest you can take between each stroke without detriment to your overall speed.

I had the concept demonstrated to me in no uncertain terms by a paddling mate & coach Rob ‘Max’ Walker, on a ski training paddle where we were trying to ride the stern wake of the Bundeena Ferry. Max had challenged me to hold onto the fast travelling wake as long as I could, no mean feat considering it hums along at about 12.5kmh. Hauling myself onto the second of the three waves that the wake produces I managed to hold position with a little more effort than normal, and Max then dared me to hop forward onto the steepest first wave.

I put my head down and paddled for all I was worth, thrashing around, water splashing everywhere like a Kingfish being hauled onto a tinny, dragging my bow closer & closer to the elusive sweet spot when the momentum of the moving water would once again propel me forward without such an effort.  In the brouhaha I heard Max’s evil laugh, and glanced across through the sweat pouring into my eyes to see him cruise over the lip at half my cadence & output level. ‘You’re hacking’ he barked at me, ‘let the hull do the work’. I eased off, tried to time my catch & effort rather than rating through the roof , and sure enough I slipped over the crest & joined him on the front wave with half the effort I’d been spluttering out moments earlier.

It was a short & salient lesson, and one that I took with me on a number of recent long days on the open sea. My motivation for developing the skill was self-preservation, trying to spare myself undue physical trauma in undertaking a number of demanding days of open ocean paddling ranging from 60km up to 117km. The idea that I could pull off a day of those proportions & back up well enough to do it again the next day was appealing for a number of reasons, least of all my own safety & the safety of my paddling mates.

Ostensibly it’s a piece of wizardry you can harness in following conditions, where the sea presents you with an opportunity to make ground at speed. Surfing waves on the ocean is to me the greatest joy in our sport, but not everyone can do it.

Why? Simply, I think as sea kayakers we’re not particularly tuned in to the idea of running with a sea. Paddlers who make ground effortlessly in following seas seem to be hardly paddling, just a faster, stronger stroke every now & then to keep the boat running. The rest of us tend to stop & start, getting a push from astern as a wave steepens, but then falling off the back as we either instinctively defend against anything potentially unpredictable like a broach, or lack the instinct or fitness to get our sea kayaks running.

We tend make my mistake of lifting our cadence or rating, and in the maelstrom of thrashing about, stall the momentum of the stroke, and then go again, over & over on a day’s paddling. Everyone who has paddled in a following sea & quickly exhausted themselves & reads this should know exactly what I mean!

To figure out how & when your own boat is inclined to run, I’d give one simple guide.

Head out onto your local waterway, preferably on a day when there is a breeze from behind generating enough of a sea to propel you along once you can hook into the flow. If you have a GPS, stick it on the front deck and watch your boat speed as you chase the crests of the waves in front of you. As soon as you feel yourself starting to exceed a comfortable cadence or effort level, back off and try to keep your speed up by timing everything a little better. Essentially, try to go just as fast by taking fewer paddle strokes.

My way of achieving this little bit of paddling nirvana is to visualise the crest of the wave in front of my bow pulling me along, and then adjusting power & cadence to make sure it stays there. If you drop off the back, remember there will be another wave along any second, but you’ll use energy chasing it down & starting again.

When you’re doing it right, you’ll find after a while that you can bring your effort level (measured properly if you have a GPS with a heart rate monitor) way down and not lose much at all in boat speed. When these measurable components start to line up; same speed, less effort, you will be some way towards working out how & where your hull begins to glide. Another little factor should also reveal itself if you’re paying attention, the point at which trying to go faster is a waste of time & effort.

In a perfect world we’d always paddle down sea, so what value is this idea of run in less favourable or even head-sea conditions? Again, to put it simply, it gives you a way to work out the point of diminishing returns, and therefore avoid reaching that extra watt of power that starts to fatigue you, but doesn’t actually add anything to your boat speed.

Not all boats run the same, but they all do it to some extent. As an exercise in developing a higher level of paddling efficiency it’s well worth working out where this sweet spot lurks on your kayak.

Postscript - here's a video of me running a nice little wind driven sea in my ski. The first minute is a reasonable example of what I'm describing above, trying to use the moving water to propel myself along, without using too much effort.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Tiderace Pace 17 Tour

Four more sleeps 'til we get the brand new Tiderace Pace 17 Tour, the most anticipated expedition kayak since the revolutionary Rockpool Taran, onto the water.
The Tiderace guys have just sent us some pics from the first paddle, designer Aled Williams taking the boat for a spin in his home waters off Anglesey.
Why are we so excited about this design? We think the Pace 17 will broaden the appeal of the fast touring kayak, with a more rockered hull shape that promises a far more sympathetic ride, good gear carrying capacity, rough water handling and speed (and therefore expedition range).
We will have stock on Monday, and look forward to getting the boat out into as much mess & bother as we can find, whilst also encouraging others to try it & see if it's going to be the breakthrough expedition kayak design we expect it to be.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Deep End

I've had a couple of paddles recently where I've been inspired by people going way over their comfort levels in an attempt to kick start a new element of their paddling.
Over Xmas, I organised a paddle out from Port Hacking into a building summer Nor 'Easter with Steve, who was taking his V10L ski out for the first time into a decent sea. Steve is an accomplished racing paddler & regularly surfs his ski, but has had limited experience on the ocean in genuine downwind conditions.
We bashed our way out past the headland of Cape Solander, about 3-4km offshore.
As we turned beam onto the seas to run home I gave Steve some very vague advice about not backing off & staying aggressive, even when everything is screaming at him to brace or throw in a stern rudder, and off we went.
With the wind now pushing 20 knots and seas running at fast boat speed we then ran back all the way past Jibbon Head in our excitement (a bit further than we had ideally planned)!
Steve was tentative for about two minutes, then gradually started to relax and let the boat go. By the time we risked annihilation on the Jibbon Bombora he was looking really solid.

John by contrast has only had his ski for a month, a more stable V10S, and has had it out on the river trying to adapt his fast evolving rough water paddling in his Nordkapp LV to the intermediate ski.
John has a background in cycling, keeps himself fit & motivated and has a history of attacking new challenges. He bought a Nordkapp LV knowing it would be a steeper learning curve, but hopefully with greater rewards once he'd found his bearings. He became a regular on Rob's Tuesday paddles, making that adaption we've all made from one of the guys who gets rescued a lot, to becoming the one who is looking for someone to rescue, over a year or so of constant rough water paddling, with a competent and strong set of peers.
On Thursday we met at Doll's Pt and in the face of another strong Nor Easter building by the minute, resolved to paddling 40 minutes out into it, and then running the 20 or so minutes back as our reward for toil. John mounted his ski in the shore break at Dolls Pt & promptly fell out. The wind waves were steep enough to make him doubt the validity of this idea, but he managed to get himself set again & followed me out into the bay.
We had to grind it out into some really strong wind, with John getting used to the lack of stability endemic to a ski that has no thigh bracing.
We rounded a channel marker after about half an hour & then ran back. Again I blurted out some generalist advice on staying positive, easier said than done, and off he went.
Despite rating his anxiety levels at '9' John slotted into the following waves and made it all the way back without looking like taking a swim, a top effort. There is a short video below showing John running along, a stirling effort in some challenging conditions for a first timer, for sure.
He later described it as 'running that line between fear & exhilaration'.
A fine line indeed.

I have done a similar thing recently, getting Gazza to ride shotgun in his Taran while I took on a paddle around Noosa in a V10 that had sections of coast providing wave action that I couldn't have responsibly taken on by myself.

In both instances we'd planned a paddle that despite being designed to challenge, had us blowing back to a lee shore (OK, with Steve & I that ended up potentially being a very hard, tall lee shore…) We had deigned to keep an eye on one another (remember I'm no expert on a ski) and also felt competent in assisted rescue techniques in the event of someone being unable to remount. We were all strong swimmers, all reasonably fit. In other words, we'd identified & managed the risks that could turn a paddle of this sort, in winds of this strength, into something that could turn ugly.

The rewards? Exposure to 'the deep end' removes many of it's fearful secrets.