Tuesday 25 August 2009

The Rockpool GT

After more than 3 weeks, including 10 full days on the water in a big variety of conditions, empty & loaded, we're finally able to pass judgement on this most eagerly awaited design from Rockpool Kayaks. I have only had a short blast in the boat & found it to be something completely different to anything else I've paddled, in the sea kayak genre. The perceived similarities people have thrown at me from a photo or even a glance at of the design are way off the mark in general, & in the GT I really do find a design that is capable of just about everything. My limited time in the boat precludes me from making a detailed assessment, however Rob has given our demo GT a hammering. The results of his exhaustive testing are now up in a comprehensive review which you can see by clicking HERE.

Introducing the Mitchell Blades ‘Bombora’

We have been working on a new design with our mate, the esteemed paddle maker in the UK, Lance Mitchell. Taking one of Lance’s existing surf kayak paddles, giving a bit of a slalom twist, reducing some of the energy sapping blade surface area, and then using Lance’s legendary super tough, small artisan construction methods, the end result is the Bombora. So called in honour of the Aboriginal word for an area of unpredictable surf breaking over a shallow submerged rock shelf, which is inevitably located some distance from the shore and surf zone. We think this is a fitting name for a paddle that will take you to that distant offshore play spot and give you the range of strokes to ride the waves when you get there.
The Bombora has a strong but not exhausting catch, a smooth feel through the stroke & with the shortened face a quick & easy exit. It is a tremendously strong paddle for technical paddling & strokes, yet doesn’t need a huge amount of grunt to cruise distance. It’s made from an incredibly strong, not to mention very sexy Carbon Zenith layup, with a honeycomb carbon kevlar face & black magic carbon spine. We are noticing sea kayaker’s skills rising around the country. The days of the thin bladed ‘touring’ paddle with a long 220cm+ shaft are limited as paddlers are becoming technically more proficient and seeing the benefits of a higher angled stroke to their overall cruising & playing. The Bombora is our attempt to accommodate this into a cutting edge design, made to make the kind of paddling we do more enjoyable & rewarding.
Red Rob Mercer’s review of the Bombora

Monday 24 August 2009

Umina Beach Training with the HKK.

A terrific paddling weekend of training & unplanned swims with the mob from the HKK (Hunter Kayak Klan). Umina Beach presents a great spot for some easily reached sea conditions, with a small surf break most of the time to test out the bracing skills. This weekend featured plenty of on water action with what has to be the most enthusiastic bunch of ambitious sea paddlers on the Eastern Seaboard, a few cool beers on the Saturday night & the All Blacks retaining the Bledisloe Cup. What more can a man want....? On the Sunday the Klan tried out all of demo fleet – 13 boats of all shapes & sizes, including the new Rockpool GT.

Monday 17 August 2009

The Power Monkey Explorer

I was recently given a great little product to test out in the field, designed for a for a power-hungry paddler, the Power Monkey eXplorer. It's a mini power storage unit that comes complete with a whole bunch of adapters for phones, iPods, PDA's & most USB chargeable products, with the added bonus for a kayaker of a tiny portable solar cell (the Solar Monkey, of course....) to top up power levels. For me, with an iPhone (just replacing a Blackberry), an iPod & a welter of other devices that charge by USB, it's a great addition to my travel or paddling kit, as it allows me to charge up my devices without having to carry a spare battery for each, or a bulky solar panel system with intricacies well beyond my limited electrical knowledge. You simply plug the Power Monkey into a mains for an hour, before you leave home, to return approximately 96 hours of standby on your mobile, 40 hours on your iPod, 5 hours on your games console, 48 hours on your PDA and 6 hours on MP3/MP4 players. According to the manufacturer "Ultra compact, tough and powerful, the powermonkey-eXplorer is water resistant and made from rubberised casing so can take whatever life throws at it, yet it remains the lightest, most versatile portable charger available today." I've been using mine now for more than 3 weeks, and I reckon I get three full charges out of my power-sapping iPhone, with a charged unit, as well as enough power to keep my iPod shuffle going for more than a week. It's compact, the solar chargers are very efficient, and I can't recommend it highly enough as a simple charging system. It won't charge your camera (unless you have one of the few on the market that charge through USB) or a VHF Radio, but nonetheless allows you to stay connected & powered up for the 2-3 day trips that in reality almost all of us undertake when we say we're going on an 'expedition'. You can buy the Power Monkey Explorer with the Solar Monkey through our online store for $149.00, including delivery.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Bouddi Paddle Pics

Scenes from a paddle in early August around the Bouddi National Park, north of Sydney. Thumping swells out to sea produced some dramatic breaking waves against the sheer cliffs, on a weekend marked by some stray whales heading north, & superb Sydney winter weather. There's a slideshow on our Photos page, or you can see it by clicking HERE.

Gina Shannon surfing the North Shore Atlantic

Gina Shannon has been paddling for less than 6 months, & has dedicated herself to learning the skills from Rob Mercer, through a weekly training date. Throwing herself into everything, she has very quickly become a highly skilled & courageous paddler with an appetite for everything that is thrown at her. Here she is riding a dumping 4-footer at Sydney’s Wanda beach, taking the hit, riding the foam pile before being upended. In this sequence she shows impeccable technique, recovering in shallow water with a copybook roll. Click on the image above or HERE to see the sequence (all images Rob Mercer, music by the Beach Boys).

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...