Friday 25 May 2012

Game Changers

I subscribe to an excellent sea kayaking mag from North America, Adventure Kayak. Like Ocean Paddler in the UK, they focus in on the open water aspects of our sport, with a wealth of venerable contributors, articles on technique, trips, & gear, all written & shot to a very high standard.
In their latest edition they published a really interesting piece called 'Game Changers', focusing on design trends that they've identified as 'game changers' in our sport.
Reading through it I was struck by the parallel conclusions they drew, reflecting the many paths we at Expedition Kayaks have paddled over the past four years. 
Among their observances is the emergence of the 'ocean playboat'. When we first landed designs like the Valley Avocet & the North Shore Atlantic we were delighted to suddenly broaden the scope of our playfulness & manoeuvrability, especially close quartering around rocks & breaking surf.
The genre looks set to specialise even further as we look forward to the arrival of the Valley Gemini later in the year, a sea kayak specifically designed for surfing, which is winning friends among the elite core of UK paddlers who have been busy testing it & feeding back their ideas to the Valley crew.
Another key point is the idea of fit, that 'one size doesn't fit all'. Boat families are emerging with two, three & four sizes available to paddlers, all designed to provide essentially the same hull experience, taking into account the weight of the paddler. We first saw this with the Nordkapp & Aquanaut series, although the NDK Romany & Explorer were really the first with the concept of a play & tour option. Slowly but surely it has virtually ended what Rob calls the 'wear a few extra pairs of socks if your shoes don't fit' mindset that smaller paddlers especially have had foisted upon them for many years.
Adventure Kayak identify the influence of what they call the 'British Empire' in shaping modern design ranges. The old Brit designers' vision of watertight rubber hatches, multiple bulkheads, a rockered shape that only fully engages in moving water & a skeg to tune out the influence of contrary sea & winds are suddenly hip. Whilst personally I'm starting to tire of the use of the 'British-style kayak' as a wedge of paddling snobbery, I'm enjoying seeing the subtle variations that are emerging on the original shapes, and the effects they have on performance. I've long given up sizing up a hull shape & drawing any conclusions about what it may or may not do, so clever have designers become at exploding long held truisms about shapes & performance.
Something I didn't expect them to mention was the growing influence of athleticism in sea kayaking. Whilst the sport has been forever identified as a pastime for gentler folk (…yeah, right…), attracting an older demographic, the emergence of quality rough water designs that are expressly aimed at range & speed has made a few of us think twice about what is possible with some conditioning & resolve. 
AK describe this as 'more surf ski', and hone in on recent acheivements like Jeff & Harry blowing away the round Ireland record in their Tarans & Freya whizzing around continents in her Epic 18X. It's a significant point when you consider there are two guys going around the UK in Tarans, looking more likely as each day passes to smash the circumnavigation record of that not-insignificant little island. Having considered the future of long range expeditioning to reside in these fast touring boats for a couple of years now, I'm please to see that it's not just another one of our wacky theories! I've used surf ski paddling to improve every aspect of my sea kayaking so it's also a nice reminder that we as sea kayakers have much to learn from other paddle sport disciplines.
Their final observation is the mainstream emergence of Greenland paddling. I've watched the local scene embrace this aspect of the sport, especially the challenge & fun of the funky rolling with huge amusement as it has become a semi-competitive lark for people to have a go at & try to master. 
What can a rough water paddler learn from such a gentle art? Simply, at least in my case, underwater ambidexterity, the ability to train myself to roll from wherever I've been knocked over, rather than have to go to a set up spot which might use up valuable time in the crunch zone. While I would caution that transferring Greenland rolling skills to rough water is another., possibly much bigger step again, it's not a bad starting point for those lacking confidence whilst upside down. It's the bit of Greenlandic heritage that I've been able to turn to good use & shows you that there are attractions in all aspects of paddling if you're willing to explore & keep an open mind. It's also been fun learning…..
All up I'd have to congratulate these guys on an excellent, thought provoking article, and a magazine well worth considering for paper or digital subscription, if the seas is your thing….
You can read the entire magazine in which this article featured HERE, or subscribe to Adventure Kayak Magazine HERE.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Sea Kayak Sailing & Safety, Rob Mercer's article in Ocean Paddler Magazine

Rob Mercer recently had an article published in the UK's premium sea kayaking magazine Ocean Paddler. The article gives a timely run down on the aspects of safety that need to be considered for anyone keen to get into kayak sailing on the open sea, especially poignant when seen in the light of a couple of recent near misses around our home waters. OP have kindly given us permission to reproduce the article in full for our readers to enjoy. It has plenty of local input from paddlers like Andrew Eddy, Shaan Gresser and Matt Bezzina.

You can view the article in it's entirety HERE.

Ocean Paddler is a top-notch mag, aimed squarely at the niche of sea kayakers, and offers high quality instructional & trips based articles from a broad spectrum of sea paddlers. You can subscribe to OP HERE, with multiple options including a new iPad app which for us long distance subscribers gives us an instant delivery method!

Monday 14 May 2012

Reed Chillcheater Tuiliqs

With the growing popularity in Greenland style rolling, Reed have tweaked their new Tuiliq design thanks to input from world-class instructors Cheri Perry & Turner Wilson. They have come up with a more traditional cut and authentic styling for the Reed Greenland tuiliq and the new option for a tent style, adjustable bottom hem means that they can be used on most modern sea kayak keyhole cockpits. These are the tuiliks that they used for their instructional rolling DVD ‘This is the Roll’
The Reed tuiliq differs from the old traditional inuit garment in that it is made from their own, unique Aquatherm fabrics and constructed with stitched and waterproof, heat-welded seams giving optimum watertight cuff, neck & hood seals and 'Eskimo Tears' face closure system. Aquatherm creates a thermal, waterproof, flexible / stretchy, lightweight membrane allowing you to perfect your ‘inuit skills’. In addition, room can be allowed for extra layers underneath - even a pfd or a drysuit.

'Reed Aquatherm fabric offers an ideal combination of lightness, warmth, flexibility and strength. It dries fast and packs small, making it ideal kit on the go. We really are happy that Reed Chillcheater Ltd has adapted the smaller ocean cockpit tuiliq to an adjustable tent-style that will now fit a wider range of ocean cockpits and SOF coamings. The fabric still traps air and offers complete freedom of movement – as a tuiliq should! Chris Reed is really a great guy to work with and has done a great job with new tuiliq! In fact, all the folks at Reed are committed to insuring that their innovative kayak garments are of the highest quality possible.' Cheri Perry & Turner Wilson, Kayakways

Rob was our first customer, having used the generic fitting Tuillik's that Cheri & Turner were wearing all week, and finding a palpable difference in buoyancy and warmth from the garment.
We'll have them in stock on our online store in standard sizes, S,M,L,XL for modern keyhole cockpit boats from early next week, for $325 including national delivery.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

NRS Hydroskin Fabric

Ladies Hydroskin Paddle Top - $99 (from the EK Store)
Winter is here, judging by the drastic drop in air temps around Sydney these past couple of weeks. We have had a lot of calls & queries asking us about layering for the cold, why for example we carry three types of paddle jackets & also a lot of questions about NRS Hydroskin.
We carry Hydroskin vests, paddle jackets & tops as well as a great pair of paddle shorts. I wear them when I'm paddling for fitness on a cold day or when I know I'm going to get wet in rough water on my ski or kayak. They're designed to be worn next to the skin & move with you, and have a very clever cut whihc doesn't present any seams to classic rub & chafe points for paddlers.
The video below gives a brief rundown of the properties of the material & should give prospective buyers a good guide as to their suitability for your particular paddling circumstance.

Reminder - Canberra Demo Day this Sunday!

Just a reminder about our demo day in Canberra this Sunday, May 6. We've had quite a few inquiries about the boat models we're bringing down, but as we can't fit the entire range on the trailer please let us know in advance if there's something you'd like to try out. We will be done at the lakeside at Yarralumla from about 10am Sunday.
You can email mark on for any extra information.

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...