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An overall report about the PaddleSpotrs Expo98
By:Mark Kanzler
Date: 5/31/1998, 3:44 pm

I arrived at 10:05, and parked about ten feet from the entrance to the Expo. I waited a few minutes to see if anyone was going to meet me at the arranged time (10:00), and then went to sign up for the cardboard kayak race, followed by the introduction to kayaking seminar.

After a 20 minute briefing on the basics about kayaks and paddling technique, I went and tested the techniques. I started with a large Northwest Kayaks tupperware Pursuit. I tried it with and without the rudder in the water, and tried turns with and without turning the rudder. I didn't like it. I was not moving as fast as I expected to for the effort expended, and was wondering if kayaking was for me. Maybe an outrigger and a sail would make it acceptable.

I talked to the salesman who confirmed that particular boat is a dog. I tried Northwest systems Esprit, and found that I was moving at a rate in much better proportion to my effort.

I met up with my wife and kids, and mother in-law, and we had a coke and sat down until 12:00 arrived and I went back to the Suburban to see if anyone else was going to meet up. Brian Millington found me at my truck as arranged, and had his camera (Digital and 35mm SLR) with him as promised. He got signed up on team HELP! (inverted text).

I went back to paddling various demos, and remember trying the following boats in approximately this order:

Northwest Kayaks Pursuit, Esprit & Sportee ----- Current Designs Caribou ---- Eddyline Merlin LT & Falcon 18 ----- Wilderness Systems Arctic Hawk----- Pirouette (whitewater kayak) ----- Perception 3d (8'2") (Rodeo boat)

The Sportee was fun to paddle. It was short, and stable (initial and secondary) and easy to turn. For diddy-bopping about in harbors, on rivers w/o whitewater, and other short paddles, it was ideal. I made a note to tell my wife and motherinlaw to paddle it. They both did, and both liked it. It held forward momentum reasonably well, but was not a fast ocean touring type of boat.

The Current designs Merlin was my favorite boat of the day. It had low initial stability, tracked okay but was still easy to turn, and, to me, looked the best of all of the (commercial) boats there.

Next I tried the Eddyline Merlin LT & Falcon 18. The Merlin was a little like the Sportee, but I preferred the Sportee, and the Merlin ain't cheap (not that any of these boats were). The Falcon 18 is the boat I would choose for a long trip across open water. It was a bit more "tippy" than some of the others, but I felt comfortable with that. The salesman tried to steer me away from even trying it when I told him it was my first day of paddling, but he was impressed when he saw me stand in it (crouched) and use my own technique to get in and out of it. He told me most experienced paddlers couldn't do that in the Falcon w/o getting wet. I guess those years of sitting on a surfboard waiting for the sets left some useful skill. The Falcon was my second favorite boat.

I tried a whitewater boat, which turned too easily for the long touring paddle and breezy conditions, but would be great in tight spots like Naples Harbor and small flood channels in my area. The rodeo boat was fun, but I like doing 360's. It was like sitting in a winebottle cork with a cockpit carved out. The whitewater boats are not designed for wet exits (Like wearing a tight tennis shoe). Fortunately I never had to try that with any of the boats.

If I could only buy on boat out of the bunch (w/o price considerations) I would probably buy the Caribou. My second choice would be the Falcon, and my third the Sportee. Each of these is different, and does what it does the best of all the boats I tried.

The most unstable boat at the show was the Arctic Hawk, which was a kevlar layup superboat. I felt comfortable with it, and after a little paddling was able to lean it on edge to turn. I never got totally oblivious to the initial instability, but if I paddled it exclusively for a few days, I'd probably not even notice the tender nature anymore. I was not all that impressed with its ability to maintain forward momentum, although it accelerated well. It tended to get blown about by the wind a lot, which would eliminate it from my selection of boats to buy.

There were about four homebuilt kayaks, which I'll talk about later.

The cardboard kayak build / race occurred in the middle of all of that (after trying the Caribou, approximately), but details will be in the next post of this threadů

Messages In This Thread

An overall report about the PaddleSpotrs Expo98
Mark Kanzler -- 5/31/1998, 3:44 pm
Re: I went, I built, I sank, I swam
Mark Kanzler -- 5/31/1998, 3:46 pm
Re: I went, I built, I sank, I swam
Mark Kanzler -- 6/1/1998, 2:18 am
Re: The homebuilt kayaks that were there, and next year better have more of them!
Mark Kanzler -- 5/31/1998, 3:49 pm
The Best Part of All
Mark Kanzler -- 5/31/1998, 7:55 pm
Re: The Best Part of All
Tor-Henrik Furmyr -- 5/31/1998, 8:15 pm
Re: Pictures of the Kardboard Kayak Build / Race
Mark Kanzler -- 6/1/1998, 2:25 am
We Need More Paddling Events like Expo98
Mark Kanzler -- 6/13/1998, 6:19 pm
Re: WoodenBoat Show
Nick Schade -- 6/13/1998, 9:49 pm
Re: Try the link again
Mark Kanzler -- 6/13/1998, 6:25 pm
Re: Pictures of the Kardboard Kayak Build / Race
Mark Kanzler -- 6/1/1998, 2:29 am