19 February 2013

VIDEO: The Hybrid550 project

I am bored of always paddling in paradise.
The perfectly smooth waters of Moreton Bay and the endless sandy beaches of South East Queensland often leave me longing for more challenging seas.
Lately I have been trying to go out paddling in rougher days when motorized boats stay put and only lonely sailors are about. I usually don’t have company as most local paddlers don’t like wind and waves.
However I am looking at the bigger picture: train for conditions that are more challenging than my back yard.

Andre Janecki has helped me before with the kayak sled and a while ago he invited me to come and paddle his part of the sea, the rugged coast of NSW, Sydney, Australia.
I was not sure how the two of us would go along: my limited skills overshadowed by my egocentric character against his extensive experience in large ocean swell and a much more humble personality…
Andre Janecki-Hybrid Kayaks Australia

Andre is also a philanthropist with his sights firmly set on the UNLIMITED project, and that is what attracted me to spend time with him.
I don’t think he is in for the money, actually quite the opposite, and the Hybrid550 kayak of his design is just a fundraiser for the bigger project: a kayak for double leg amputee and paraplegic paddlers.
The least I could offer him was to make a promotional video because for every Hybrid550 sold, $500 goes to the UNLIMITED 

Armed with high spirit I loaded my car with a few cameras and minimal camping gear for a few nights. The goal was to travel light since I was not sure of my surf landings on rocky shores would be as precise as I was hoping for: a light boat makes easy work when dragged over shore rocks.
And finally I was paddling along the cliff line that I have seen so many pictures of before.
I concentrated on capturing this new world for me, trying to hold the camera while steadying my kayak in the healthy rebound; I am just not used to this.
I was hoping to film for all 3 days, but I failed to captured the stuff that kept me white knuckled fearing of flooding the day hatch and capsizing next to cliffs while retrieving my camera.

for a better viewing experience select HD if you have fast Internet connection, and use headphones
While I paddled along Andre I noticed that he was having a much easier time than myself keeping that kayak humming along: I was sweeping regularly in my British kayak with skeg, he was just enjoying himself in his ruddered kayak.
The Hybrid550 looks so slick and low profile (reminds me of a Greenland form kayak) to then surprise me with the amount of volume that really has inside those hatches; maybe is the 'symmetrical' hull shape that can carry that much gear compared to my 'fish form' boat.  

The trip was a real success. The conditions were an eye opener for me as my local bay is too easy to be able to develop decent seamanship in ocean conditions.
I am planning to spend more time on the South Coast.


  1. Nice job Gnarly, and fantastic idea for people with limitations with the kayak.

    1. Rafa, thank you for creating a post and elaborating about the UNLIMITED project on your site.

  2. You are too kind, Damiano. I remember one particular section, where you enjoyed the wild conditions more than I did. LOL
    But like everything, there is a time in every paddler’s life to reflect on what the sport is all about. For some, it’s simply an exercise, for others it’s escaping to nature, where no other craft can take you.
    In the past 20 years of kayaking, I was lucky to experience it all (including a few bonus scars) and the memories of those places are priceless. It is my time to pay back and the UNLIMITED is my destination.
    I’m not good at advertising and marketing and your offer of making a pro-bono video as well as writing about this project is great! After all, we need to find only one corporate (financial) sponsor and together as a paddling community we could rollout the UNLIMITED for those who dream about it.


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