Monday, 22 December 2008
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Here are a few scenes from today's paddle, the last one before Xmas, 2008.
As always it was a beautiful Sydney morning. We're lucky to live in such a great paddling city.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Monday, 8 December 2008
We'll be on the beach from 7.30am, this coming Saturday, December 13, and will be offering instruction on rudderless paddling, as well as individual forward paddling tips for those on the water in the demo boats. The venue is Ramsgate beach on Botany Bay, entrance to the beach via the car park opposite Florence St (GPS Ref. 33°, 58’, 56.82S; 151°, 08’, 53.95E). If you’re travelling south along Grand Pde from the city, the car park is 4.1km from the Cooks River bridge, on the left. If you’re travelling north along Grand Pde, the car park is 1.25 from the beginning of the Grand Pde at Dolls Pt. For a more detailed overview click HERE. It's a great opportunity to pick up a well deserved Xmas pressie......! If you intend on coming along along, please register your interest with me on 0417-924-478, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, 5 December 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The demo day was an unqualified success, with Brian & Deb McCarthy ordering a shiny new Aquanaut each, & Brooke & Eddie paddling & then buying the awesome little Avocet. Several other paddlers turned up to try out our designs & attempt to get their heads aorund rudderless paddling. With a great new customised boat trailer, we will be doing plenty more of these demo days around the place, so keep an eye on our website for dates. Of course, we'll also take you out to demo paddle any of our boats, at a time to suit.
Leading Queensland instructor Craig McSween taking his little boy for a paddle in his brand new Outasea design.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
They have a good range of speakers & workshops, some basic instruction for all participants on both the Saturday & Sunday, and from all reports a good pre-registered roster. Rob & I will be there from Friday morning, and will run a demo paddling session on the Currmbin Creek from 10am to 3pm, in order to allow our loyal Queensland customers a chance to get out in some of our newer designs. We'll be in the water with the demo paddlers, offering our customary tips & tricks on how to handle rudderless kayaks, as well as having our Reed gear, This is the Sea DVD's & other store goodies for purchase.
Sunday at the Symposium offers much the same experience, with a bunch or retailers & importers offering their demo boats for all to try. It is a rare opportunity to try, compare & contrast different craft head to head.
To register your attendance, click HERE
Monday, 10 November 2008
Paddling with our guest paddy, Dave, was a real pleasure. He is one of the leading instructors in Ireland, & has a resume as long as your Mitchell Blade of great expeditions, ranging from West Greenland to direct crossings from Ireland to The Isle of Man, to the tide races of Northern Ireland & Wales. One of the great differences between the way true sea kayaking is taught in Ireland & here in Australia is due to the hazards which predominate. Paddling around Ireland, you need to know your tides, navigation in limited visibility & have good moving water (ie tidal) skills, whereas here our emphasis is much more heavily on surf & it's associated risks. What I wouldn't give to have a crack at one of those awesome tide races that figure so prominently in the This is the Sea & Pacific Horizons DVD's!
David Carraher cracks a wave on Fairy Bower Photo Dee Ratcliffe
The paddle progressed out & around North Head & down the cliff line to Manly, with a moderate nor' westerly cutting up the top of the water & making things reasonably challenging along this notoriously bouncy stretch. There were a couple of good small waves which provided some entertainment at Fairy Bower , followed by a cup of coffee on the sand at Shelley Beach. We met up with Mark Schroeder & Matt Bezzina - author of the world famous "Matt's Blog" & they joined in for the trip back to the heads. New paddler Wendy Stevenson - the lady who blitzed me in the Montauk if you read back in the blog to my 'Speed' entry, was in her new Avocet LV & gradually got a feel for this awesome little boat. For small framed paddlers, this little beauty is a god-send, keeping things in proportion for the larger-than-you-think percentage of the paddling community who can rarely find a sea kayak which fits.
Wendy Stevenson showing picture-perfect poise in her Avocet LV
The trip back was assisted greatly by the current which runs south along the cliff line, & we were then entertained by Mark & Matt slowly delaminating their hulls on the Cungewoi reefs around North Head.
Mark Schroeder getting a bit of a splash from the North Head sandstone.
Back at Clontarf there was a bit of rolling practice & some demo paddling for Peter O & Dee Ratcliffe, before the last paddlers standing adjourned to Skiffies for a couple of beers & some tall tales.
Peter Osman dropping his skirt in the soup.All up, an awesome day out with mixed conditions, good company & some proper sea kayaking. Thanks to Peter O, Dee, Wendy, Bruce, John, Matt, Mark & David for making it such a great day out.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Monday, 20 October 2008
Sizing him up for our range, I figured either the Nordkapp LV or the Aquanaut would be best, so we met early Saturday morning for a sea trial. A highlight of the trip to collect him from his digs in King Cross was bearing witness to McLeay St at 6am - it's many years since I've staggered out of one of the bars in the Cross but I reckon I could have got a hangover from just watching the boozers chasing their pizza's home!
Matt jumped in the Nordkapp LV - essentially a boat derived from the new Nordkapp design, but with much of the volume taken out, so it behaves like a standard Nordkapp with an expedition load. We headed out of the calm in Camp Cove, around the coast past the reef of South Head, then along the cliff lines under Sydney's infamous 'Gap'. The deep water & tall cliffs always produce some form of rebound & this allowed us to get into some bouncy water & test out the LV's stability. We then turned east & headed out into the nor’ easterly swell for couple of kilometres, before turning & running back with the sea to the safety of the harbour. Most of the bad press about rudderless kayaks centres on their inability to handle a following sea, so I always welcome the opportunity to get a paddler into a Valley & allow them to run with a sea. They quickly discover that the myths are just that, myths, & what follows is a pretty swift surf-laced run with these awesome designs carving along in the following conditions.
Back into Camp Cove we messed around with a few rolls & some instruction on handling a rudderless kayak, then swapped over. Now, I had figured that I would be too big for the Nordkapp LV, and was dreading squeezing myself into it even for a short test paddle. What a surprise I got when I slid in like a glove, and immediately felt the responsiveness of this extremely responsive & playful kayak. The LV has been universally well reviewed overseas, so I looked forward to giving it a good workout while Matt took my Aquanaut for a spin. I wasn't disappointed. While the initial stability is a little lighter than the Aquanaut, the secondary is rock solid, & allowed me to do things in the LV that I would struggle to do in my Aquanaut. It is also very, very quick. Riding a few small wind waves back from the centre of the heads I was clocking 15km/h without trying, and the boat loved the following chop (just like the Aquanaut). Back inside the harbour for a second time Matt & I rode the small wind waves without any effort at 11km/h plus, in a beaut run back to the beach.
In summary, we managed to get out in a couple of great boat designs, test them in the sea (which after all is where you would hope to be paddling your sea kayak), & had a good time into the bargain.
Matt decided the Aquanaut's more solid initial stability suited his paddling needs, & will soon be showing his shiny new Valley boat in the clear waters of his native Tassie.
Friday, 5 September 2008
Sean lives in California where he runs River and Ocean, the US importer and distributor for UK Valley Sea Kayaks. He is the current World Masters Surf Kayak Champion in the High Performance category.
Sea Morley on his way to winning the World Surf Kayak Crown in the Valley Rush
In 2004 Sean completed the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland and all the inhabited islands; a six month, 4500mile expedition and the longest journey ever undertaken by kayak in British waters. I had the pleasure of metting Sean at a show in the US last year & have long been an admirer of his paddling. He has done it all, from high performance racing, to slalom, to some of the most audacious sea kayaking trips undertaken, & even suurf kayaking. If ever there was boat in which to break a record, the Valley Rapier is it - my money is on him to pull off this feat.You can follow his progress from September 22 onwards HERE.
Postscript: Sean completed his epic paddle in just over 17 days, beating the previous record set in a double by almost 2 days. He ended up paddling the standard Nordkapp due to the forecast seas & conditions, judging the Rapier to be a bit too twitchy for such a trip.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Friday, 11 July 2008
The Aquatherm fabric itself does look rubbery, but is about the same thickness as a rashie, with the advantages of being windproof & ultra-breathable. Rob & I immediately ordered samples to test & we have both been blown away by the performance of these garments. Without going into the serious details of each item in the range, the overriding features are fit (no rubbing caused by wearing a top that was designed for a surfer), design (how would you like a set of hand warmer pockets & a designated VHF sleeve in your next PFD?), and material (Aquatherm is awesome stuff, breathable, comfortable, incredibly light & pretty groovy....) We've got good stock on all of the Reed range on our online store, available at the same prices you would be paying if you bought direct from Reed in the UK, without the expensive international freight charge. We've even designed a spray deck for the Mirage paddlers out there, looking for a good quality expedition spray skirt for their sea adventures.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
My journey into this spectacular sport began about 5 years ago with a whitewater creek boat, a Wavesport Score, which has very similar handling characteristics to a modern surf kayak, minus the fins. As a paddler who learnt the skills of surfing a kayak in a cumbersome sea kayak, this boat seemed to me to be about as good as things could get, with it’s maneuverability & speed on a wave face. Along came the first of Ross’ surf kayaks & I quickly realised just how much more was possible using a craft explicitly designed for the surf. In my old playboat, I would ride the initial face, then inevitably get caught in the break & bump along bracing, surfing backwards, generally out of control. Make no mistake, this is great fun, however it is really only replicating whitewater paddling in the surf zone. Whitewater paddlers will argue that this in itself is terrific fun, but it’s not what turned me on. As John Lennon said, whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright…..
A true surf kayak with fins allows the paddler to carve like a board rider, whilst also getting the most out of every wave.
The Valley Storm in action at Cornwall, UK (photo Maurice Leyland)
So, for a sea kayaker wanting to make the jump to surf kayaking, how do you get started?
Firstly, you’ll need a reasonably good skills base. You’re obviously going to do a lot of swimming I you haven’t yet managed to crack a decent roll. Rolling a kayak isn’t the black art many make it out to be. I’ve often instructed paddlers through their first ever roll, & their normal comment is ‘is that all there is to it..?” Get yourself some good instruction (www.balancedboater.com) and depending on how flexible you are, you will find you’re cranking out a decent roll within a few weeks.
Secondly, undertake a careful study of the etiquette of surfing. There is an excellent guide HERE. Watch how surfers treat each other (maybe don’t do this at Maroubra), get to know the rules of the break & when you do finally get out there, OBSERVE them.
Finally, get out in a controlled environment with either an instructor or a competent paddler & have a go. Start small – even playing in the broken whitewater is a good learning experience for a novice – and build slowly. Check the weather & surf forecasts & pick the days when you’re going to be inside your limits, and get out among the waves. Wear a helmet – if you don’t need a head, you don’t need a helmet.
Where is the sport headed? With the rivers in this dry continent slowly evaporating, it’s a good bet that surf kayaking will develop into at least as mainstream a sport as whitewater kayaking in the years to come. In Australia we’re blessed with a wealth of surf beaches free of crowds, so there is no limit to the development of the sport.
At Expedition Kayaks we have just begun to import the Storm surf kayak from the UK, and it is a real performer. Check it out on the Surf Kayaks page of our website.
The Mega boats at Jervis Bay Kayaks are also worth a look - their range is much wider & includes composites. Above all, don't for a minute think that surf kayaking is a high-performance sport for the young & reckless. With a minimum of instruction & experience, you can develop your sea kayaking skills to a level you couldn't have imagined possible, with the help of a well-designed surf kayak.
Monday, 16 June 2008
Thursday, 12 June 2008
So, over the last month or so, I've been doing a 12.5km Monday morning paddle from the Cooks River boat ramp in Kyeemagh, to Dolls Point in Botany Bay, & back. My aim has been to push a little bit harder than usual, in an effort to get a bit fitter, and also to see if I can discern any speed difference in the various kayaks we at Expedition Kayaks are selling. I cruise 'plus 10%' at about 8.5km/h, which is faster than I would have paddled on any club or instruction trip for the past 3 years. In fact, if I was to head off on a club paddle at this pace I reckon I'd probably exhaust at least half of my fellow paddlers within half an hour.
Conditions have been pretty much flat & windless, so I haven't had to contend with anything skewing the results of my test times, and the conclusions are really interesting. The Force 5, which really & truly is an amazingly fast boat in sea conditions, is actually only about 300m per hour faster than the Norkapp when paddled on the flat. The Norkapp is not designed for flat water racing - it's a dyed in the wool sea kayak. The Assateague, which I love paddling in anything remotely challenging, but which I would have considered to be a reasonably slow boat on flat water, is only about 100m/hour slower than the Nordkapp on flat water. The Aquanaut, which is blowing away many 5.8m sea kayaks in sea conditions, is only fractionally faster than the Nordkapp, on the flat. Think about those results - effectively it means after 12.5km of paddling at a rate above that which you would find on just about any club or social paddle, these kayaks are all going to arrive at the same destination within about 4 minutes of each other. I have deliberately italicsed the pertinent parts of my analysis, to attempt to show the absolute codswallop that is behind the idea that boat A is fast, & boat B is slow. The simple fact is, if you can get some sea skills through a good commercial instructor like Rob, or in a club environment, you will a) have a more efficient forward stroke and therefore be able to paddle more efficiently (& therefore faster); and b) better be able to take full advantage of the environment around you in the sea, to propel your kayak faster.
A classic example of my speed furphy theory is the Montauk, a boat we sell for smaller paddlers, which is just 16ft long. It is a lovely design, with a Swede form giving it excellent hull speed for it's overall waterline length, but I would again have considered it to be a reasonably slow boat. I took a ski paddler out for a test paddle in the Montauk a few weeks ago - she was small in stature but big on power & technique - and in a 4km return paddle on the sea she had me going well above my comfort level just to keep up (I was in the Currituck, which is another boat that performs beautifully in the sea, but is a bit sluggish on flat water). Anyway, she proved once & for all that the Montauk is definitely not slow in the hands of someone with a good forward paddle technique.
So, think twice about the boat if you're worried about keeping up, or going faster - look instead at your own technique, and think hard about whether you're in the sport to race (in which case, go buy a racing ski, or if you really want to go fast, a Rapier 20), or to smell the roses......
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Each attempt was thwarted by a particularly irresistable reef break sitting 40m off the eastern edge of the island, which just had to be given a go. So, after riding the break for an hour at a time on each of my first three attempts, I had to forego the odyssey & hopefully return another day to tick this milestone of a paddlers career.For those of you hoping to train for such a feat, the stats are below:
Erakor Island, Vanuatu
Circumnavigation distance - 1.8km
Dangers - Relaxation induced apathy, dodgy sit on tops, paddles with one blade on backwards, sunburn.
First acheived - 704AD by Midou Tiki in timber, coconut hulled Valley Native Canoe (VNC)
Thursday, 17 April 2008
The slideshow above shows a small slice of the action, on a night where most of the group were wide eyed. Keith had a hell of good time in his boat, as evidenced by his play in the mess, & is stoked with the Aquanaut.
Keith is a Bass Strait veteran, & a very active sea instructor with the NSWSKC.