So, The Darkness sit&switch single racing C1 hybrid canoe is finished. I am entirely satisfied with it and would change nothing. It was tried and tested on the 2014 Devizes to Westminster canoe race carrying the first female competitor to victory. An increasing number of people are trying it out and deciding to purchase it.
I wonder what a double version would be like? Is it simply an elongated version of the single, or do the demands of two paddlers require a complete redesign? I suspect it is somewhere in the middle.
The Darkness was designed in CAD, so all the hard stuff in terms of dimensions and shape are done. But before I commission a new CAD design, there are a number of fundamentals which I need to clarify.
The first is, where is the best place to position the two paddlers?
Conventional wisdom and tradition dictates that the paddlers in a racing C2 should be as far away from each other as possible at each end of the boat. The front paddler is limited by their leg length and the decreasing width in which to place their feet. The rear paddler is also limited by decreasing width in relation to their hip width. (I’m being polite here!)
This makes sense in that it leaves a large space in the centre to store equipment for wilderness canoeing, plus it makes the boat easier to steer. However, why isn’t this concept extended to double racing kayaks?
Kayak paddlers tend to sit closer together within the most buoyant part of the boat and power is delivered from the centre. They do however, have a rudder to aid steering.
The same appears to be prevalent in high-kneeling racing C2s where the paddlers are even closer together and they don’t have a rudder.
In a slalom C2 the paddlers are closer still as they are kneeling rather than sitting. Surely this makes it harder to steer? No, because this is compensated for by a substantial rocker along the keel line of the boat.
I am tending towards a compromise. Position the paddlers closer than a traditional C2 but not as close a K2. This should ensure than the weight is close to the centre where the boat is the most buoyant. A small amount of rocker perhaps towards the stern should be enough to help with steering, but still ensure directional stability.
It would be nice to have something ready for DW 2015.