Monday 28 September 2015

The Nordkapp Forti - Rob's First Impressions

Pic by Selwyn Gotleib
When the Valley guys announced that they had a revamp planned for the iconic Nordkapp, our interest piqued, and we've been looking forward to seeing what this 'old-is-new-again' Nordkapp Forti would deliver. This latest incarnation is inspired by one of the earliest versions of the boat but with many a modern twist.

On Saturday we launched Australia's first Nordkapp Forti for a leisurely paddle on Sydney Harbour and I immediately enjoyed the glide and easy manner of the boat. By way of contrast  on Sunday I launched out of Malabar and paddled the boat whilst coaching off the cliffs, in 15-20 knots southerly winds and some moderate southerly swell. 

Pic by Selwyn Gotleib
Immediately apparent is that this is a straighter tracking kayak than the 2008-edition; it's easier to surf and demands less work to hold a line at any angle to the wind. I suspect it's more efficient and it is definitely more stable and predictable in multidirectional waves. The profile shape is just as elegant as ever but from most angles this redesign looks a more contemporary version rather than a retro design. 

Pic by Selwyn Gotleib
I must admit I really like the looser tracking of the 2008 version but I have had a long time to get used it and know it is a highly idiosyncratic aspect of the boat that polarises opinion; many will see the slightly firmer and more predictable tracking of the Forti as a better compromise. What is so impressive is that with a few subtle changes this boat is easier to paddle, more forgiving and yet still retains that lively and engaging feel that is the hallmark of the previous Nordkapps.

Pic by Selwyn Gotleib
Aesthetically the new boat has less pinched ends and fuller sections at bow and stern, the foredeck is less peaked at the centre but higher over the knees forward of the thigh braces, and the coaming is recessed to keep it low and streamlined.

It is another beautiful looking boat that will not only appeal to Nordkapp aficionados but also to those who may have found the looser tracking 2008 version a little too much in rough water. It will not replace the LV for feel or playfulness but at first test seems to have the previous full sized models covered. I look forward to further trials in surf and heavier weather. 

Testing boats is a tough gig but someone has to do it!

(Thanks to the Dapper Doctor Selwyn for riding shotgun & taking a few nice snaps)

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