Archive for August, 2011

Aug 23 2011

Crash Test Dummies

A couple of strip-built sea kayaks were dropped off for us to demo. “The Mattang” was designed to be a rugged, nimble surfing and rock gardening sea kayak. It was specifically built for the surf and rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast. “The Sundance” was a gorgeous, 18.5′ long, pointy sea kayak with Greenland and British design influences.

We slipped out for an evening paddle. I paddled the elegant 18.5′ Sundance and Jeff paddled the rugged Mattang. A couple of minutes after we launched from the beach, the bulkhead on my boat came loose and shifted forward of my feet, and the right thigh brace came unglued. I didn’t come unglued over these outfitting details (story of my life) and enjoyed the smooth, effortless feel of her gliding through the water. She was surprisingly nimble and turned well with a little edge. She was fast, sleek and efficient and very different from my 16 foot plastic Valley Avocet.

It was a mellow evening, and we enjoyed a couple of rides on a rock garden feature called “The Toilet Bowl.”

We meandered over to Chicken Point which was breaking on some of the larger sets. I was content to sit on the edge of the break and admire and photograph Jeff and the Mattang in action. Jeff was tearing it up with her!!! He made that boat dance on the water.

My friend Amy and her family were spectating from the bluffs. Of course they goaded me into catching a wave at Chicken Point. I thought, “Sure, great idea – surfing a rock-strewn break in an elegantly crafted 18.5’ wooden sea kayak with a hull design that had never been tested in the surf.”

I contemplated . . . worst case scenario . . . I would not be able to control the boat and end up broach surfed into the rocks . . . at least my friends would witness some spectacular carnage.

As my friend Amy says, “I nutted-up” and got into position. The boat accelerated with ease onto the wave. As I dropped in, I felt totally in control. The bow and stern both rode high in the water allowing me to control the boat’s direction. I edged her slightly and surfed her across the face of the wave.

Huh? An 18.5 foot sea kayak that drops into a wave and edges and carves. The builder was ecstatic. He had no idea what she would do on a wave. Jeff and my friends were hooting and hollering . . . . I was grinning from ear to ear and paddling back for another wave. And caught another, and another, and another. On one wave, I actually dropped in and cut right toward the rocks and then cut back left. It was amazing and so much fun.

So much for being crash test dummies . . . this time.

Here’s a video of our session using the rapid fire photos that Amy took from above on the bluffs.

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