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Axe Vale Canoe Club

Contact us at: info@axevalecc.co.uk

Affiliated to the British Canoeing & Quality Mark Accredited

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What Kayak & Paddles?

Before buying your own kayak there are lots of things to consider. Ask  around at the club, the coaches and members may all have useful  opinions on what may suit you. Ultimately, it is down to trying a few  and finding out which feel comfortable. There are lots of kayak reviews  on the Playak website and advice pages on shop websites.

The  comments herein are the personal opinion of the author and taken at your  own risk:

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Short boats are good in surf and river waves but too short  to go far and hard work to paddle any distance. This is because the  speed you can go is related to the length of the kayak/canoe - the  longer it is, the further you can paddle comfortably.

  • Sit-on Kayaks - good for using close to the shore, estuaries, fishing, etc. A wide choice is available of differing shapes and sizes, so ask advice. Generally only used in the summer as you get very wet and cold in the winter.
     
  • Play boats - <1.9m  long - a specialist boat - good for surfing & play spots. Not  good for river running unless you are very experienced. No good on  flat water and sea trips. Only buy if you are into playing/tricks.
    E.g. Liquid Logic Biscuit, Wavesport Project, Jackson Star
     
  • River Play/Surf -  1.9m to 2.2m long - less specialist - can river run and play in  river surf and sea surf. Too short for flat water and sea paddling  trips though - really hard work over any distance.
    E.g. Liquid Logic Trigger/Lil Joe/Hoss, Wavesport Fuse, Pyranha Rev,  Jackson Fun
     
  • River Runners and  Creek - 2.3m to 2.6m long - getting more general purpose as they  are good at running rivers and reasonable at surfing and useful for  short flat water or sea trips (Seaton to Beer is about is far as you  would want to go in one of these). Creek boats have more volume  inside (so they float back to the surface quicker) but can sometimes  be a bit unwieldy on slower water. Therefore, creek boats are not as  general purpose as the river runners.
    E.g. Dagger GT Series, Wavesport Diesel, D65
     
  • General Purpose -  2.6m to 2.8m long - though labelled general purpose they are  obviously at the longer trip end of the range. They can do surfing  (but not the play moves) and run rivers (as long as not too  difficult) and OK for flat water and short sea trips. Again, you  would probably want to limit the length of the trip to 8km or so  (e.g. Exeter canal/river round).
    E.g. Perception Whip It, Whip Lash and ARC.
     
  • River Cruise/Trek  - 2.8m to 3.0m long - seems there is a new range of boats coming  out in this length which are good for touring and river cruising and  some white water. Typical examples are Pyranha Fusion and WaveSport  Ethos
     
  • Touring & Sea Kayaks - >3m  long - Good for the flat water and sea trips of any length. Long  means fast and straight running. Can do some surfing with practice.
    E.g. Perception Arcadia, Dagger Stratos, P&H Delphin.

Remember - shops  may have a vested interest and, though their advice may be good, it may  also be tinged by what they want to sell. Ask the club members first as  they have used a wide variety of kayaks and may provide more impartial  advice. There really is no kayak that will do everything, so you really  have to decide which end of the length range most suits your needs most  of the time (or eventually get two kayaks as most members seem to do - one  shorter & one longer).

Kayak Paddles

Choosing kayak paddles is almost as hard as choosing which kayak - the type and length of  paddle depends on what you want to do. Play boaters tend to use shorter  paddles with bigger (broader) blades to get maximum power, whilst at the other extreme sea kayakers  tends use  longer paddles with smaller blades. Basically you get what you pay for  so go for the best paddle you can afford of the type that suits.

Symmetric paddles are cheapest, but they tend  to be less rigid and, due to their symmetry, they may  flutter in your hands in fast water. Asymmetric  paddles are more expensive, more rigid and generally  improve the effectiveness of your strokes. Asymmetric  paddles are better mainly because, as the paddle enters  the water it is not vertical. Hence, with a symmetric  paddle more of the blade beneath the line of the shaft  is in the water than above the line of the shaft and so,  when you pull on the blade, there is more pressure of  water on the bottom half and hence the blade may  flutter. With an asymmetric blade, the area in the water  above and below the line of the shaft is the same and  hence the pressure of the water as you pull is balanced  and therefore more effective.

Reputedly, the more rigid the shaft and blade, the  more efficient, however the downside is it they are less  kind on the arms & shoulders. So, really rigid paddles  are only good for experienced paddlers with good  strokes. So, if you are an intermediate paddler, do not  go for a paddle that is too rigid...

People at the club tend to have (in order of cost) : Originz (mainly  Nevis Bluff) or Robson or Werner paddles for the rivers. All these are  fine paddles.

Kayak Info & Shops:

Rolling - one of many YouTube videos on how to roll a kayak

Playak - lots of information on kayaks, equipment and what's on in the world of kayaking.

AS Watersports - local canoe/kayak shop in Exeter, Devon.

Bournemouth Canoes - Canoe/Kayak shop in Upton, Poole.

Wavesport - Kayaks

Pyranha - Kayaks

Dagger - Kayaks

Perception - Kayaks

Jackson - Kayaks

Kayaking Books

"Kayak - The New Frontier" (2nd edition) - William Nealy
Whitewater Technique with great drawings and humour.

"Whitewater Paddling - Strokes and Concepts" - Eric Jackson
Good descriptions of all the basic and some more advanced stokes.

"Surf Kayaking - The Essential Guide" - Simon Hammond
Surf Technique with great pictures and clear descriptions.

"The Bombproof Roll and Beyond" - Paul Dutky
A bit older than the other books but a classic on how to roll

"South West Sea Kayaking" - Mark Rainsley
How to canoe from the Isle of Wight to the Severn Estuary in stages. Can be tailored to shorter trips along the coast. Lots of good information about the conditions on each section.

"Sit-On-Top Kayak - Beginners Manual" - Derek Hairon
Good basic guide to using sit-on-top kayaks for recreation, surfing, diving and fishing.

 

Paddles

Werner Paddles -
Information on paddles and some good tuition videos on  how to paddle (e.g. Benefits of a Light Grip).

 Robson Paddles -
Information on paddles.

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