Articles in boats & gear
Here is a summary of my paddling, training, racing and lifestyle changing activities in 2011:
I paddled and trained on the South Platte River in winter and then on my local lakes in northern Colorado: Horsetooth Reservoir, Boyd Lake, Lonetree, Boedecker and Beaver Pond.
No ultra marathon …
Soldier Cove of the Horsetooth Reservoir (Pentax Optio W30 camera)
After a couple of weeks of test paddling on Beaver Pond and Horsetooth Reservoir including some windy winter condition JKK Supernova kayak was added to my paddling fleet.
First thing I had to do was to customize …
I am still testing Jeremy’s JKK Supernova, a racing sea kayak from New Zealand. I did a couple of 5-7 mile runs on the Horsetooth Reservoir in a winter scenery including pretty windy conditions. Paddling was much drier than it would in my Thunderbolt kayak. The Supernova feels much more comfortable with my bumfortable foam seat. However, for a better comfort, I would have to trim the seat hangers as I did in my Thunderbolt.
I shot a few pictures of the Supernova together with Thundebolt-X kayak designed by Doug Bushnell from West Side Boat Shop. Supernova appears to be a few inches shorter than Thunderbolt, but much wider, and has much higher volume. Thunderbolt cockpit is placed more forward than in Supernova. I am going to measure these kayaks by myself. Data listed by manufactures are not very accurate.
Next, I added Sisson Nucleus 100, a multisport kayak from New Zealand, to the picture for a reference. I like that Grahame Sisson is specifying the sizes of cockpit opening for his kayaks.
These three kayaks have very different cockpits:
- Sisson Nucleus: a very roomy cockpit with a small opening (shorter than Supernova), but quite wide, tiller bar steering
- Thunderbolt: a long open cockpit, tiller bar steering,
- JKK Supernova: a roomy cockpit, but a very narrow opening, sea kayak fit, pedal steering
I had a chance to do some test paddling with Jeremy Rodger’s JKK Supernova kayak. It happen just after first snow storm in Fort Collins, so I had a pretty scenic paddling on Beaver Pond in the Arapaho Bend Natural Area. I am trying to compare this kayak to my Thunderbolt-X from West Side Boat Shop from a perspective of a long distance self supported paddling and racing.
JKK Supernova is a multisport kayak from New Zealand – the same length as my WSBS Thunderbolt (21′), 1″ wider beam (19″), but a much bigger volume and a lot of cargo space with bulkheads and hatches. It is a racing sea kayak. Jeremy wrote a review of the Supernova for my blog a few years ago.
First impressions of the Supernova: fast, stable, quite responsive, much more maneuverable than Thunderbolt.
The Supernova cockpit is pretty small and tight. It is really narrow!. The cockpit opening is only about 14.75″ wide while I have 16″ in my Thunderbolt kayak, and a generous 17″ in Sisson Nucleus 100 which has the same beam as the Supernova. So, the owners of wide hips beware.
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I am entering a new water sport activity: packrafting. Yesterday, I performed first test with Alpacka Yukon packraft in Fort Collins’ Riverbend Ponds Natural Area.
I am not thinking about any big expeditions with my packraft at this time. My plans are just to explore short river segments combined with land transportation by inline skates or a bike. And, more opportunities for photography.
- A fully inflated Alpacka raft fits inside my Subaru Outback. So, it will be easy to explore some local small lakes and ponds where dragging my expedition canoe would be an overkill.
- This packraft tracts surprisingly well. It is a new 2011 model with an extended stern.
- A comfortable cruising speed on a calm lake was around 2.5 mph. I was able to reach 3 mph. However, an efficient paddle stroke may be restricted with a big backpack or bike placed across raft bow.
- Seating and foot room is pretty tight. Well, I like to have some foot support for paddling – probably not a typical position for river floating.
- I didn’t use a spray deck. It could be useful in that rainy evening.
I am ready for a river test.