Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A New Royal Challenger!


Reader's of this blog will know that I've spent the best part of the past 10 months turning myself from a non-runner, into a budding marathoner (!), all in pursuit of a race I decided to take a shot at, the Royal Challenge.

The race was postponed last November due to a monsoonal week of rain which made both access to the race course and the terrain itself difficult.

It was re-scheduled for this weekend coming, which in my case was just as well. As is my way, I reckoned I was ready back in November, but a much more intense running program over the past month has given me a better chance of completing the 21km trail run, sandwiched between two 10.5km paddle legs. 
Mercer on the ski - he'll be racing the two 10.5km legs of this weekend's Royal Challenge
When the entries re-opened as soon as the original race was postponed, I convinced Rob to enter the teams event, and he in turn convinced our paddling mate Alan Thurman to be his team runner. As well as being an accomplished sea paddler, Alan has been running marathons & competitive distance events for a while now with some success, being good enough to get into the bunch of runners in the City to Surf who go off before the main crowd.
Alan in more familiar transport mode
So, no pressure, but you'd expect them as a team to do really, really well. 

There look to be about 100 competitors, but fewer than 20 are doing the full event as individuals, which I see as a warning that I'm in for a very tough day. My goal is to get inside 4hrs 30 minutes, which will depend on maintaining my training speed in the 21km run after a decent crack at the first paddle leg, and then being able to complete the final 10.5km at a reasonable clip on the ski with fatigued legs.

Regardless, training towards the goal of this race has been a revelation, and I've enjoyed the journey so far. I've also had some encouraging support from friends & colleagues who've sponsored my race to the tune of over $1000, all going towards the very worth cause of the KIDs Foundation

So thanks again to Sally, the Adonis, Stacka, Little Peter, JC, Don, Jono, the guys from James Harvest Sportwear, Barry & Dee, Penline, Dave, Captain Grumpy & my own workmates here at EK & Talisman. The link to my sponsorship page is HERE if anyone else out there in blog world wants to give me an extra incentive to go the distance.

Keep an eye on the results on Sunday morning, and Rob & Alan's 'Odd Couple' team. Here's the video from last year's event.


Friday, 24 January 2014

New Toys - The Epic V10 Ultra


We can be a jaded bunch, us blokes of EK. 

Off for a surf tomorrow, shall we take the Gemini SP or the Xtra if it's going to be big, or the Xcites if its going to a bit full? To stop us fighting, we've got a demo each of the Xcite.

A downwind burn along the coast, a Pace 18, Epic 18X, Taran 18, Pace 17, Taran 16, or an Evoke if we want to have a play halfway?

A trip out to Broughton to camp the night, cover the 20km of open sea to get there & then have enough tricks in the hull for a bit of a play, eenee-meenee-minee Nordkapp, Xplore L, Etain I,II,III, not sure which sort of performance I want? 

Conundrums.

Sadly, these are the conversations we have from time to time, then we spend a few minutes trying to narrow down what will work better based on the forecast.

Even sadder, it makes us horribly immune to the thrill of a new boat, we tend to get very analytical the moment we jump in something new, and miss out on the magic of getting to know your very own, new kayak. It's the savage price we pay for having 17 different demo boats on tap.

Poor us right? Tissue handy anyone...?

Anyway, bucking this trend today, I snaffled myself a brand new Epic V10 in the ultra layup. It's one up from my now former V10 in the performance layup (for sale for $2900 to a good home, with a free steak knife), weighs a ridiculous 12kg, and tragically it may mean I've now turned into one of those ski paddlers who thinks a saving of 3.5kg may turn me into the next Clint.
Seve about to launch
With a bustling nor' easter forecast this arvo, I cajoled Seve (not his real name, he should also perhaps have been at work) into abandoning his budget forecasts and join me on a maiden voyage out of Port Hacking. The aim was to head along the coast off Cronulla, Elouera & Wanda across as close to Boat Harbour as we could get, then see what my new machine could do downhill.

The video above shows the fun part, we plugged into a wind that gusted to 34 knots until we realised that our 5kmh speed was going to get us another ten minutes of downwind, if we stuck it out for another half hour. Too bloody hard....

My impressions of the V10 Ultra in comparison to the Performance layup? More buoyant, slightly less initial stability & more tendency therefore to heel, but a marked improvement in acceleration & 'pick up'. Not for beginners, but an identifiable performance jump, even to a non-elite ski paddler like me. I had a swim, & climbed back on with ease in some messy steep waves, testament to the low gunwales in all of the new Epic designs, and their easy facilitation of rough water remounts.

The magic of a new boat? Umm, yep, it lives up to the hype.

I've got the Royal Challenge next weekend and will take part in as many of the Open Water races around town over the next few months as my schedule will allow just to make sure I get my money's worth.

Thanks to Seve for riding shotgun and allowing me to indulge a baptism of wind & spray, on a day that I may not have taken on by myself.

Just Arrived - The Peak UK River Racing PFD


The latest re-vamped product from Peak UK arrived today, the River Racing PFD. This rounds out a comprehensive range of quality PFD's from Peak UK, complementing the ground-breaking Explorer Zip PFD mentioned in detail HERE.
Suitable for open & flat water racing or fitness paddling, the River Racing PFD is essentially an up-specced version of the minimalist PFD developed for the British Olypic team, made from 60-80N of Gaia environmentally friendly foam that will quickly take the shape of your torso. This PFD is made from a durable 600D ripstop PU coated cordura outer shell & 200D ripstop nylon inner. It features a cavernous front pocket with gear clips and sewn drainage holes, neoprene sides with snag free concealed side adjusters, & figure hugging shoulder adjustment, in a high visibility orange with stylish grey trims.
A substantial yet low profile & minimalist PFD for those who don't like wearing them, or paddlers looking for a fully compliant (ISO approved) PFD for racing skis, SUP or flat water, in events like the Open Water Series and Hawkesbury Classic.

They're available now through our ONLINE STORE for $199 including national delivery, in sizes S/M (30-39" Chest), L/XL (36-47" Chest), and XXL (39-51" Chest).

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Around the Reef & Back

John & 'Ronaldo' pay homage to the Gresser.
Last week in Sydney was hot....damn hot...! 
After agreeing it was a long, hot & for some difficult week, we decided a cobweb blower was in order.
Friday's forecast was a carbon copy of the previous four days, warm to start, getting hotter through the morning, then for coastal Sydney only, abatement in the form of a strengthening Nor' easterly sea breeze.
"Ronaldo" who is a dentist.
Can anyone see the potential for a paddle? The plan was, leave Watson's Bay inside the harbour at 11ish, head north just over 15km into a gentle breeze that would build as the land warmed up, have a leg stretch at Collaroy, then ride the cooling sea breeze home.
John, miserable b*stard #1
As a plan, it was a good plan, and in executing the plan, the weather nearly almost followed the script. In a perfect world we would have had a bit more following us back, but by the time we had powered back into the heads of Sydney Harbour it was starting to crank nicely.
For poor Rob, enduring sunny day after day teaching paddling skills on the drab Sydney Harbour it had been a tough week. Shaan had been moving house. John was just his usual, miserably pessimist, and Ronaldo (not his real name), maybe should have been at work, rather than out paddling.
Rob & "Ronaldo" rounding Blue Fish Point
Me? The first fair dinkum week back in the office is enough to get me heading for a long, fast hit out, and we managed that.
John & Shaan head towards the famous Excalibur Flag
Shaan & "Ronaldo" take a break at Collaroy Basin
The beers at the pub afterwards were icy cold, and the week that had passed was given a salt water ending. And we all know, salt water cures everything.
Rob & "Ronaldo" head towards the pub

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New to the EK Store, NRS H2Core Rashguards


The new & innovative products have really started to pile in over the last few weeks, from Lendal USA's new X-Range paddles, to the brand new range from Peak UK.
The first of the latest wave from NRS arrives on Monday, the H2Core Rashguard.
Another of the products we sussed out at the Paddlesports Expo in Germany, this is a paddling top way better suited to our warmer climes than anything we've offered in the past, with the exception of the Peak UK Rashie, and has replaced the old faithful Hydrosilk.
Designed for movement, this technical paddling garment is made from a brand new fabric featuring a silky exterior for fluid, athletic performance while the brushed inner surface feels soft and cool on your skin. It's designed to breathe freely, wick moisture and protect skin from abrasion when you're paddling or surfing. A form-fitting cut eliminates excess fabric for comfortable athletic performance.

The H2Core is great by itself in hot weather or as a base layer in your cold weather layering system. A stylish & practical performance cut allows unrestricted movement and creates friction-free zones under the arms for comfortable paddling.
Like all well thought out garments, it's simple, functional, and performs beautifully in hot weather.
The H2Core Rashie is $59 including delivery nationally, available in Light Grey, Black & Red, sized S-XXL.
There is more to come from NRS in the coming weeks, including a loose fitting paddle top made from a breathable mesh. Stay tuned...!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Full Lendal North America X-Range Paddles Range Now in Stock

TK wisely stays to the East of Wedding Cake Island
Our full stock of the brand new Lendal USA X-Range paddles are now on the shelf.
We've got the Kinetik 650, 700 and the new Storm paddle, which we were helping to test during the prototype phase. Lendal USA have come up with an elegant & functional foil shape, light weight & brand new, modern designs aimed at rough water performance.
These paddles are built using the latest aerospace carbon technology to get the weight on the Storm paddle down to an amazing 650gms, and the Kinetiks to 720gm, quite a weight saving considering the power a blade of this shape can generate.
TK & the Lendal X-Range Kinetik 650 in action
We chose these two designs initially because they're the ones with which we are most familiar, with characteristic down-tilted geometry producing initial power, which aids when manoeuvring the kayak in rock gardens, surf and sea caves. 
From stock we have paddles in the two piece configuration, with right or left feather adjustment, and we have shaft lengths ranging for 204cm up to 214cm.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Custom Valley & Rockpool Cut Off This Friday


We're finalising our next container of Valley & Rockpool boats. If you'd like one of these famous Brit designs, a Taran 18 or Taran 16 in a striking starfish glitter paint job, or a Nordkapp or Etain with a clear carbon kevlar hull or your own special colours, please contact either Rob or Mark by Friday.

To see what's possible from Rockpool check out their amazing gallery HERE

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Eve Paddling on Sydney Harbour

Sharon, Rob & John spent New Year's Eve perched on the rocks near Neilsen Park, having paddled over for a 'paddler's only' vantage point to see thousands of revellers lining the harbour, hundreds & hundreds of spectator boats, and of course the massive fireworks display.
Rob took this series of pics of John close up tom the rocks, with the boats, the harbour & the pyrotechnics starring. Great photos.
Happy New Year to you all, from all of us at EK.