Wednesday 29 April 2009

Rockpool Kayaks - Coming soon....

In our continuing quest for even more quality boat models to add to the 13 we now have available, we have just finalised an order with the almost mythical Welsh kayak manufacturers, Rockpool. As far as I know, only the well-thought-of Tasweigan, Geoff Murray has managed to procure himself one of these master craft in Australia, but we'll have stock on the shelf towards the end of Winter, 2009. Rob & I both managed some water time in Geoff's beautiful boat on our recent instructing trip to Tassie, & were struck by the small-artisan detail in the build quality. For the aesthetes among us, they are definitely a sight to behold, and not just for the colourful graphics made famous in the tiderace footage of Rockpool's in action in the This is the Sea series. In keeping with our ethos to encourage skills & boat handling, we're also thrilled with the feedback from well-regarded British peers who rave about the rough-water handling of all Rockpool designs. Manufactured in Anglesey, Wales, by master boat builder & designed Mike Webb, Rockpool are reknowned for the innovation in their design. The most impressive of these in my eyes is the higher ergonomic foredeck, which allows a more anatomically correct leg drive position for forward paddling - no cramped thighs in a Rockpool....
We will initially be landing the brand new GT, a fast crusier with all of the big water handling of the shorter tide race boats like the Alaw (pronounced Arr-Lau for those not fluent in Welsh...)
If you have had your heart set on one of these striking, innovative & up to now virtually-impossible-to-get kayaks & would like one made to your specs, complete with the famous starfish & glitter deck graphics, you have until May 10 to contact us with your request.
For an incredibly comprehensive summary of the Rockpool designs & ethos, visit their excellent website.

Monday 27 April 2009

Demo Paddle For Canberra Paddlers

If you’re interested in a demo paddle in one of the Valley, NDK or North Shore designs, and have time free this Sunday morning, May 3, we’ll be waterside on Lake Burley Griffin for a test paddle. Please email or call Mark Sundin at, or 0417-924-478 to express your interest.

Mitchell Paddles Horizon Review

Owen Walton, a paddler from the Newcastle area north of Sydney, has emailed me a review of his Mitchell Horizon Greenland paddle:
"Due to some paddling aggravated shoulder problems (and no doubt initiated by advancing years) I recently purchased an Mitchell Greenland paddle, following advice from Graeme that his has assisted with his shoulder issues. I was lucky and picked this paddle up at the recent Rock'n'Roll auction for a very good price. Not only is it a beautiful looking piece of furniture, but it weighs even less than Annie's custom, short, all carbon paddle (750 Gm versus 840). The 1st time I used it, it felt like trying to paddle with a long stick! It just seemed to slip through the water with little resistance and not much else happening; (bit like a golf air swing). However, I was soon impressed by seeing the shoreline passing me by at a similar rate as I'm used to with my normal (conventional, Skee Carbon) paddle. I later surfed the Net reading up on the correct technique for using this paddle and viewed You Tube clips on the likes of Maligiaq (champion Inuit paddler) using them with great efficiently. I have been using this paddle now for some weeks and my opinion is that initially it definately accelerates the boat more slowly than the conventional (Euro) paddle, but when up to speed seems to get you along at a similar pace. To achieve this same pace I find I am using a higher cadence, but with much less effort, (resulting in less strain overall). With the oval shaped loom, it just sits beautifully in your hands with the upper leading edge canted forward at about 30 degrees, which is supposedly the most efficient angle for them to enter and be drawn through the water. Obviously there is no "wrist gymanastics" as the blades have no feather; further you are always fully aware of the blade angle, for any quick bracing etcYesterday I gave it a good workout in the Westerly gale force winds off Wangi. When I faced the long slog home into the wind, I was almost tempted to stow the Greenlander and reach for the Skee stowed on the front deck (security blanket syndrome?). However I carried on making slow but steady progress, without feeling as if I was straining. Another benefit is that the upper blade fells very little effect from the head wind (almost like a 90 degree feathered blade - but the Greenlander is also unaffected by side wind). Today, my shoulders are fine, whereas I'm certain that I would have had some after-affects from the effort of yesterday, had I been using my old paddle. I guess that the Eskimos must have learned something about paddling kayaks, as they have been doing it for over a thousand years." It's nice to see the properties of the Greenland paddle being recognised by someone, like me, new to the idea. Owen originally posted this on the excellent Hunter Kayak Klan website, an interactive site for the paddlers in his region to communicate & arrange trips, training etc. It's also worth a look for the lively discussion!

Wednesday 22 April 2009

UK Sea Kayking Instruction DVD's

We've recently secured distribution for the brilliantly informative & entertaining set of sea kayaking instructional DVD's from Olly Sanders, highly respected British instructor & film maker. His two instruction DVD's, 'Rough Water Handling', and 'Sea Kayak Safety', are so far ahead of any of those doing the rounds over the years as to make them almost indistinguishable from what is around.
They feature all of the hot shots you see on the This is the Sea DVD series (Aled Williams, Nick Cunliffe, Nigel Dennis, Trys Burke etc), explaining how they manage to execute their advanced skills in the dynamic environment of the sea. Aside from being spectacular to watch, they abound with 'eureka' moments & provide a rollicking good ride through advanced skills. They're not entry level DVD's, but with a market saturated with this basic level of instructional media it's refreshing to see something catering to the paddler with a set of skills, looking for a few clues on how to go to the next level. Sea Kayaker magazine, in reviewing the series, made the pointed observation 'it's one thing to show kayakers what to do in an emergency; it's quite another to show them what to expect. Unlike almost all other instructional kayak safety DVDs and videos on the market, which demonstrate rescues only in mill-pond-smooth conditions, this DVD contains extensive footage of sea kayak rescues performed in rough water.'
I found the DVD's to be less on the prescriptive side - the 'gather around little paddlers while I tell you what to do' - & more on the suggestive side. In other words, there are several ways to execute these skills & here are a few options, which is exactly how I try to structure my instruction - probably because I hate being told what to do...!
The DVD's are available from our online store for $49.95, and are a superb addition to your library of instruction media. If Easter Horizons & This is the Sea are sea kayaking porn, Olly Sanders provides the hard hitting current affairs. They just need Kerry O'Brien doing the narrative....

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Rock & Roll Report

We've just returned from Rock & Roll 2009, the awesome sea kayaking symposium run by the NSWSKC. It's the club I have been a member of since 2002, as a humble novice, then a Sea Skills qualified paddler, then a Sea Leader & for the past 5 years a sea instructor.
(You can see a large format version of this clip on the Video page)
Rock & Roll has become a really professionally run, safety conscious, inclusive & out & out fun event. More than 130 paddlers came from all over the country, and a good proportion of attendees were new to the sport. The atmosphere this year was the best of any of the previous Rock & Roll's I've been to, heaps of generosity of time & experience, plenty of off-water seminars, retails stands, workshops, & of course the machine of the NSW Sea Kayak Club's trip leaders getting every single paddler who wanted to do a trip out at least once over the weekend. Most people were out on both the Saturday & the Sunday, and conditions allowed some people to get their first ever taste of paddling a rolling ocean swell; the glare from the smiles on the beach was overpowering...! I had three great days on the water, taking a forward paddling clinic on the Saturday morning, & a sea trip in the arvo around Lion Island to try to find some following conditions to ride. The highlight was a 200m ride cracked by Brad McPherson of Rjimlad fame, flying along by the side of the reef with spray flying off his bow. On Sunday morning I did another similar session with a demo of a great rescue which has been used in the UK - Tim Robinson of the the Sea Kayak Forum took a video of the drill which you can see HERE. Then on the Monday John Piotrowski led a trip with several inexperienced paddlers out around Lion Island & down the cliff line of the national park to the beautiful village of Patonga. This for me was the highlight as at least half a dozen paddlers on the trip had never been on a pulsing sea before, & the small taste of the ocean we managed to get them was exactly what a club like the NSWSKC exists to do. it is sea kayaking after all....! From a commercial perspective we were quite overwhelmed by the interest in our boats & our gear. Apologies to everyone who couldn't get a size/paddle spec/demo paddle - please let us know what you missed out on & we'll do our best to help you out as quick as we can. You've gotta love Rock & Roll, well done to the organisers on the NSWSKC Committee headed by Commodore Michael Steinfeld, & to the real gurus, Rock & Roll co-ordinators Ken & Susan Day.

The Velocimiser Sea Kayak Foil Rudder

After two solid years of R&D, we can finally announce a series of successful sea trials of our new foiling sea kayak rudder, The Velocim...