26 March 2013

VIDEO: R&R short movie winner

The short film entries to the Rock&Roll competition were of a high standard.
The New South Wales Club hosts a yearly sea kayak symposium that attracts paddling talents from around Australia and invites international guests to run clinics.
This year a large number of the short movies presented were focused on high skills (and thrills) of paddling dynamic waters, often in big seas meeting cliffy shoreline.
I enjoyed the bravado captured on camera displayed by the local talent: the videos were highly entertaining and inspiring.
And then there were Vincent's entries.
He presented two movies that immediately transported me to his unique world of paddling. There was a magic feeling when I watched his skilfully edited footage; something about the soft evening light combined with soothing music.

select HD if you have fast Internet connection and allow the movie to load before viewing

I love the understatement that the music brings to his high action scenes; it is an approach to movie making out of the ordinary. The surfing action excites me while the music wants to calm me; it stirs conflicting emotions in me that at the end, at the closing scene, leave with a smile wanting to paddle those waves.
I asked Vincent what does kayaking mean to him:
It feels wonderful out on the water in a sea kayak, especially in the low light of early morning or late evening.
I usually don’t travel too far to paddle, and am lucky enough to live 12 minutes drive, from my nearest surf beach or lakes in a relatively undeveloped National Park.
I love the durability of my plastic sea kayak because it magically gets attracted to rocks and sand banks.
After snapping a couple of other paddles, I’m now really happy with the strength of my one piece carbon Greenland paddle.
For me, finding out ‘what rings your bells’ as a paddler is part of the pleasure of kayaking.
The most important thing is that you are out on the water, having fun.
"Dedicated to the independent paddlers that think outside the box willing to try new things and embrace diversity; to the kayakers that like to dance to the tune of their own music."

21 March 2013

VIDEO: Sailing with Flat Earth 0.8

A few months ago I received a new sail.
For years I have been using a Flat Earth Sails of 1.0 m² in all conditions and I wanted a new one to use specifically in higher winds. Paddling in stiffer breezes and sailing with the FEKS 1.0 has proven to be a bit tricky for me. I also have come to the conclusion that a larger sail does not equate to higher speed on my kayaks.

The large Flat Earth Code ZERO 1.0 mt sail seems to shine in lighter breezes up to 15 knots; my kayaks are propelled along at a reasonable speed where I still need to paddle along if I want to reach hull speed (the maximum sustainable speed achieved by paddling alone). At around 15 knots of beam wind I find that I no longer add to the kayak’s speed if I add my paddle strokes; maybe with a short furious burst I have a sudden sprint, but not a continuous increased speed.
At higher winds (like 20 knots) the kayak does not travel any faster, despite the sail offering more resistance and heeling over my boat.
As I have to lean over with the weight of my body to prevent the kayak from tipping and I don’t feel too comfortable in winds higher than 20 knots; I get tired from twisting my body.
In reality, the only time I can really make my kayak’s skeg hum is when I have following seas and my kayak is propelled by the wave hitting it from behind.
A few short fast strokes bring the kayak to the speed of the wave and suddenly I am surfing.

Sailing with Green-Piece: the lime-green Impex Cutticuk

I was intrigued to try the new sail: would it still give me the fun rides that I was used to with the big sail but make it easier in higher winds?
After a few months of using the new Flat Earth 0.8 sails (two different ones) I realize that less is more.
The smaller sail propels my kayaks (skeg, fish-form, British style 5 meter-ish) just as fast as the larger FEKS 1.0, when the breeze sends most small motorized watercraft back to the boat ramp.
The smaller sail gives me enough resistance to bring my kayaks to hull speed but not too much heeling over. I can handle the sail better in wind gusts.
While rigging the 0.8 sail I made a taller mast to allow me to reach the boom when stowing the sail on deck. In a lowered position the mast (pocket) is longer than the boom and to keep the two together, when folded, I now have the mast slightly protruding over the cockpit.
As sea kayak sails are generally useless for tacking (head wind) I lower mine and stow it on-deck. The mast, boom and sail cloth are bundled and tied together to prevent wind and waves catching the sail and balloon. A sail hastily stored on deck has filled up with water and made boat handling very precarious; I like my sails secure with a low profile to make head wind paddling easier too.
An unplanned advantage of having a higher mounted is to gain a clearer view between deck and boom without much need for a window.