Monday, 13 December 2010

New boat to play with

A good day

Its always a good day when you get a new boat, today I picked up the Rockpool Taran Which I shall be using for our Ireland trip. I am very happy indeed, Mike is a fantastic craftsmen who obviously knows his job, both inside and out.

Now am I taking a bit of a gamble here? I am an SKUK sponsored paddler, so why am I in a Rockpool Kayak?

I am stepping away from a boat I have sworn by since 2003. The SKUK Explorer has always been to me, a well tried, proven and trusty steed! Truth is I still think, as an all round expedition sea kayak, for 99 times out of 100 uses, it fits the bill, trouble is, this trip is about that 1% that I have never really explored...........Speed & Racing.

Nigel Dennis as yet doesn't make an 'Ocean Racer' and Rockpool does. 

So do other manufacturers I know!        So why the Taran?

Well it has something to do with having the right tool for the job.      Is it the right tool?       Well time will tell and so to will the Cornish Surf when I get home.

My choice of tool in this instance, does also have something to do with its designer- John Willacy.

John and I first met when I was supervising the sea safety for the Hebridean Challenge adventure race several years ago.  A highly motivated and superfit racer who pretty much ruled the event, certainly the paddle-sport activities. He mentioned then, that he was developing a race boat, so I kept my eyes and my ears open.

Almost a year later I heard how John had been steadily working his way through a whole series of established records in and around the Irish Sea. So earlier this year when Harry asked me if I fancied having a crack at paddling around Ireland with him it was too much for me to bear and curiosity killed this cat.

So a couple of months ago, I gave Mike a call and asked him if he would let me test out this new addition to the Rockpool fleet.

Meeting up with Mike, we took two Taran's out from Rhoscollyn Bay on Holy Island, Anglesey and then headed up through the inside of the beacon, towards Treardhur Bay, a steady swell from the nor-west and a good surface chop bought about by the steady force four wind blowing across the tide. Perfect conditions for the job of seeing what all the fuss was about I thought?

 Anyway the first thing that impressed me was the speed which John took off at, wait for me I thought.... the second thing that impressed me, only minutes later, was that in my efforts to keep up with him(I'm no racer yet!) I didn't have to once, think about the stability of the kayak, which, with so many race boats is a definate factor to consider.

This stabilty factor is really essential, especially for what we are planning, as you need a solid platform to maintain good technique and drive.  Did I say I had good technique? Well I thought I did, until John gave me a wee bit of coaching in using the wing. My apologies, I know I'm now digressing a bit,

We spent a good hour paddling out and back, we took on a couple of rock gardens, we ran a few gulleys and entered several caves, I wasn't expecting this, the boat manouvres exceptionally well, with or without the rudder, John was obviously showing me that the boat isn't just a speed machine.

 I have never really used a rudder too much before and had chosen to try the return leg without it, it handled exceptionally well considering the following seas, the boat surfs a treat, in fact it was an absolute thrill, long, long rides- rudder is still going to take a bit of getting used to though.

All in all, its been a good day, now let's see about that surf?

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