Friday 28 April 2017

Audax Speed test

Yesterday we put the Audax to the test over the same 10km course on which we've tested every single one of the 70 or more boats we have imported over the years, to ascertain accurately the terminal hull speed of the boat. 

We choose this course on Botany Bay as it's as flat a stretch of tide-neutral water we can find, with only about 800m of assistance & resistance at each end, and 10km is too far pushing hard to get any weird high results. We've heard people tell us that boat X can go 12kmh, but we've never ever seen a sea kayak do those speeds over still water for more than a few hundred metres, so prefer our own tried & trusted method of measurement.

Whilst it wasn't dead flat, with a beam wind gusting to about 12kn, it was protected enough to give us a good gauge on just how fast the Audax is in comparison to other boats in the genre.

The recorded trace is below, with an average speed over the 10km of just on 10.2kmh. That makes it the fastest sea kayak we've ever recorded over the course, with the exception of the 6m long, 44cm wide Valley Rapier, as radical a design as you're ever likely to see.

The numbers are higher than we thought we'd see, considering the huge stability of the craft, the reassuring beam of 53cm and the rocker we designed in to maximise handing and manoeuvrability in the big stuff. We put it down to the entirely organic shape of the hull, with no hard surfaces, only the suggestion of a V, and also the ergonomics of a close, clean strike zone allowing plenty of power transfer at the catch.

It means the Audax has a broader reach than we had originally considered. With that sort of hull speed it's realistically a sub-eleven hour Hawkesbury boat, and a fitness kayak for paddlers looking at entry level ski performance and stability, with the huge benefit of being a well credentialed touring sea kayak.

Why is this speed measurement important? Considering that nobody other than a racer would be pushing the limits of a hull in the context of sea kayaking, under the the ethos that it's about the journey & speed isn't really that big a deal. Why bother to actually measure potential speed? The answer is simple, a boat with a high terminal hull speed will generally have more glide than a boat with a lower limit; glide being defined as the length of time between strokes before the kayak starts to decelerate. In the context of sea paddling, this means less effort to maintain a cruising speed, even if it's only 6-7kmh, and a less taxing experience on the ocean. 

One of the most common comments we hear when paddlers first try a fast touring boat is that they feel light on the water in comparison to a traditionally shaped kayak. That's not down to actual weight, it's the earlier planing effect that these modern hulls tend to generate. Power translates to lift much earlier, the hull gets up & on top of the surface more effectively, and feels lighter to move along.

Fast touring boats are not a massive revolution, but they have steadily turned distances that have previously been considered fairly epic undertakings of 10 hours or more, into a 6-7 hour steady cruise, whilst also being exceptional in any hint of a following sea.

The Audax continues to win friends, with orders rolling in & the boats already delivered providing an enhanced paddling experience for their new owners. Contact us to arrange a test paddle.

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