John and I took the boat out for the first time. We met at Wootton Rivers and put in on the Kennet and Avon canal for the familiar three mile section to Pewsey Wharf.
I mounted the GoPro on a pole and positioned it on the rear deck going out, and the front deck for the return leg.
It was clear when we lowered the boat onto the water and watched it rock, that it had less stability than the Duet but that was expected from the previous prototype tests. We got in and pushed off from the side.
Now the thing about John is that he only does full-on training. As he is paddling K1 three days a week at moment, he just dug the paddle in at full power. Although I was expecting this, we still had an instability moment which required a few support strokes, and then we were off.
First thing I realised, was that I had set the seats too high. As the previous prototype had proved quite stable, I got my boat builder to raise the seat flanges 3 cms, and then because I’d implemented a quick seat adjustment method, this raised them a further 2 cms. 5 cms doesn’t seem much, but when it’s close to the limit, it makes quite a difference.
I’d also forgotten how much John moves about in the boat, and it took me some time to relax and let the boat do its thing.
First surprise was how much freeboard there was. When we tested the first prototype, the water level was close to the gunwales, so I build up the decks by 10 cms.
Clearly this has advantages and disadvantages. It means that the boat will support much heavier paddlers than the 2 x 76 kgs of John and me. There is less chance of swamping in rough water especially as the decks are flat. However, there is perhaps a little unnecessary additional weight, the sides are more liable to the effects of wind, and the paddles may have to be lifted a bit higher on the switch. Other benefits include the fact that the spray deck should be clear of even the biggest feet on the footrests.
The boat tracks arrow straight and it is easy to keep it on course. There was an annoying head wind comong in from 10 o’clock which kept [pushing the stern over. I will move the rear seat back a bit to help make steering strokes more affective, not that I was able to get many in due to lack of stability.
The Duet is a devil to turn 180 degrees, but this boat is even worse! John and I are not great at some of the more advanced canoe strokes so about a million sweep strokes later, we brought it round. Not surprising really as it maintains such a straight line.
A couple of K1s tried to ride our wash, but we soon dropped them. I’m not sure that there is much of a ridable wash anyway.
The boat is about 30 seconds per mile quicker than the Duet on the canal and this will become more evident as we get used to it. I will also confirm this by getting other Duet crews to test it. I’d like to see how it performs with a couple of big people.
So, as with all first outings, some things to mull over and some changes to make.
I uploaded a short video to YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10oTbcl7wH0