This Saturday-morning Anoushka organized a surf-session at the beach of "Castricum aan Zee". Although the wind was reduced to 4->3 bft. North, she consulted surfsites predicting a good swell for surfing.
And Yes, there was swell with surfable waves and cresting waves up to 1 meter. Good conditions for testing a seakayak.
Underneath a 2 minute film with an impression of today:
The way the Etain behaved in the disturbed and irregular waves, which you normally find in the surfzone, gave me a lot of confidence. First of all the excellent stability of this kayak tributes to that. But also "how the Etain glides over the waves in a very balanced way". There has been no single moment that she moved or responded in a "twitchy" way on the waves. All her movements were predictable and forgivable. So I was relaxed all the time. Only when a particular strong dumping wave tried to push me backwards I had to paddle very hard.
Of course I also surfed on waves: like most seakayakers I know, I like surfing. Besides fun surfing is an opportunity for constant improvement on paddling skills. Anyway, the Etain surfs very well on the steepening swell approaching the beach. As long as the wave does not crest too much, the Etain runs fast. The stability also gives confidence in performing the paddle-rudder. Inviting me to hang over far aside to curve a wave.
Once a wave starts cresting the Etain broaches quickly in most cases and it is not easy to pull her out of that. No wonder because she is not very maneuverable, designed to run straight on. But after broaching it is easy to practice bobbing along with the wave in a high- or low brace.
Once you headed out at sea, waiting for a surfable wave, you have to take your time to turn the kayak. Knowing this is an expedition kayak this did not disturb me at all.
I think that it is good to know that it is easy to launch or land the Etain in surf-conditions on a beach. That is what counts for an expedition kayak.
In a later session I will look for long windwaves to repeat testing teh surf-qualities and downwind-performance of the Etain.
At the end of the playing session, when my paddling-mates already beached, I performed a series of rolls: The Etain is easy to roll is all I can mention about that. Also high-braces and sculling gave me no problems or worries.
- Finally some technical remarks:
- all 4 compartments were bone-dry after 2 hours playing in the sea.
- The dayhatch, in front of the cockpit, was twice kicked out by a wave (see film). Although this compatment was tethered with a rope, I don't like this because it will mess around on or along your deck when conditions do not allow you replacing it.
- The hatches are all very neatly positioned; centrally in the deck-recesses for them. This will tribute much to the watertightness. And last but not least: the edges of the deck are nicely rounded. This makes it much easier to press the edges of the hatch down. The better pressed down the better the watertightness!! I give this deck a 10 !!
To be continued.