Thursday 13 February 2014

Flat Earth Sails & Expedition Kayaks

Mick Macrobb, Mr Flat Earth Sails, is one of the good guys in the kayaking world. He has built his business from a genuine cottage industry, into an internationally known brand that, in the small world of sea kayaking, has become a household name. At the recent Paddle Expo in Germany, Mick's sails were front & centre on at least three manufacturers display stands, and were attracting interest from all & sundry.

Back in 2011 Rob asked Mick to make us a set of Code Zero 80 sails for our North Reef Expedition. Not being much of a sailor, kayak or otherwise, I thought it was an unnecessary  complication for a trip that was going to be very technically demanding anyway. I made my ambivalence known to Rob, who looked me square in the eye & said 'Mate, you just don't understand how much fun it is paddling in those big winds with a sail!'.
Mark & Rob head for North Reef (pic by Chris James)
The debate ended there, and despite only having a 30 minute refresher on the harbour with my new Flat Earth Sail, I very quickly came to understand just what a fantastic thing it is to use one with a fully loaded boat on long days at sea. Technical in the conditons we paddled on that trip, maybe, but fun, oh man what fun.

Even when the winds were on our beam, we found that by putting the sails up, as well as increasing our visibility to one another in perpetually rough water, the pressure the wind would exert on the sail even from side-on was enough to alter the trim of our loaded boats, and greatly alleviate the dreaded glide-stopper an extra 50kg in your kayak creates.

As for the days when conditions did line up, the only thing that comes close to the thrill of whistling along on a howling sea with your sail up is paddling an elite ocean racing ski in steep & unidirectional following conditions. And lets face it, that's not exactly the most accesible thrill for most of us.
Rob on the 95km crossing to Lady Elliot Island
The video below shows the day on our trip when the moons aligned, and we had a steady trade wind gusting over 20 knots, pushing a freshly developed sea right up our hooters. This would have been a fast day anyway, but the sails gave us that little extra push to crack pretty much every runner we lined up. Put simply, as good a day on the ocean as you could imagine.

We are now stocking Mick's Code Zero sails, in both the 70 & 80 size. Apart from designs & shapes that are specifically designed to work with kayaks, the great appeal of Flat Earth Sails is the materials & Mick's famous workmanship. The sails are made from a new tri-laminate sail cloth, offering improved shape holding properties. 

The Code Zero 80 is the all-rounder sea kayak sail, and the most popular, at .8 sqm. The sail has a good drive, with a fuller cut than traditional sails. This sail is available through our ONLINE STORE for $390 including delivery.

The Code Zero 70 is the small sail of the range, at .7 sqm, perfect for coastal exploration trips and expeditions. With a newly designed shape, the '70 has plenty of drive, and is ideally suited to smaller paddlers and low volume sea kayaks . This sail has a fuller cut in the head, and with its shorter mast means all your drive is concentrated lower than the '80. The '70 is available through our ONLINE STORE for $380 including delivery.

Code Zero sails are available in White with a spectra ripstop pattern and colored trim. We have stock on the shelf and offer free overnight delivery.

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