Sunday 2 February 2014

Taran Rockpool Test Drive

Just took a friends Taran Rockpool for a 25 km spin out around Peel Island this morning (thanks Gav!).  We had a 5-10 knot headwind for the first 13 kms and then a 15 knot tailwind for the last 12 kms, wind against tide with a lot of tide movement.

I was coming off the back of a 500 km week of cycling so I wasn't going out for a smash fest trying to chase down a certain ocean ski paddler so I took my time getting a feel for the boat.

My first impressions was that the boat was twitchy and I could spin the boat on its edge and catch a wave very quickly.  It tracks well and the flat bottom gives a unique feel on a wave, especially in the short bay chop which often has the rudder out of the water.

Having larger thighs than most people, I found that I had to angle my legs out (avoiding the thigh braces) to get my leg drive going which made my feet slip off the rudder controls as they were more centered in the middle of the boat (not sure if that is specific to this setup).  Could be that I'm not used to rudder controls having paddled skeg boats for the past few years.

I was stretching a little for the foot pegs as this setup was modified for an over tall kiwi, even though he explained he put it on the "hobbit" setting.  My hip flexors felt extended in this position, but again this could be the effects of a long week on the bike.

I felt comfortable with the stability having paddled a Nordkapp, though I could feel that I would need to be careful in more demanding conditions. Whereas I could sit in the clapotis in the Nordy taking photo's with my paddle on the deck, I'm not so sure I would be as confident to do the same in the Taran.

I didn't push the envelope on the way over and sat on around 8.5 to 9 km/hr.  It seemed that I wasn't working as hard as I would have been in my Nordkapp to maintain this speed into a headwind.  When I had the current with me, without too much effort I was punching out 9 to 10 km/hr into the headwind.

The fun part - the downwind run, wind against tide with a solid 10-15 knots pushing me along.  The swell had pushed up to a meter or so of steep bay slop.  On the bigger sets, I could leap from wave to wave getting 50 plus meter rides.  The boat tracked really well with me edging and leaning forward with the occasional correctional stroke.  I buried the bow up to the glove box compartment and it kept lifting up and not losing forward momentum.

I can certainly understand why people love this boat.  It is an exciting ride with wind and waves pushing you along. This is the Taran 18 which is probably a bit big for short bay waves, but you can feel its potential for ocean paddling.

Next boat to try is the Pace 17!

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