Last sunday, 29 october, it was good weather again for testing the Skim Distance: a NW wind blows at 6 Bft.
Happily 6 clubmembers liked to share and to face the challenge of quite a lot of waves, sometimes reaching 1,5 meter.

Picture: Rob Goezinne

Although I faced last week some surf already in the Skim Distance, I needed more information on how the kayak performs in surfconditions.
Because of the tide going down, the waves were rather steep, which was for some members an invitation to go swimming. I did not envy them as I saw how long it took sometimes for them to reach shore again.
As I do not like swimming at all, I started thinking if I could prevent the swimming part; might it happen to me bailing out in deeper waters. So why not use the re-entry? And paddle to shore with a water-filled cockpit. It must be much faster than swimming.

Sunday this did not happen because I just once bailed out close to the beach when the nose of my kayak hit the ground. I even did not try to roll up because I scratched with my back and helm over the sandbottom. Remembering my hurt back from the last test, I did not even try to roll up.
Another time the Distance rolled-up easily in the surf.
The Distance turned out to be a kayak designed for an other purpose than for playing because turning or changing of direction in waves costs a lot of energy. She only wants to go straigth on; a very good characteristic for a seakayak of course, but not for playing in surf. About the stability in this confused sea, I had no complaints other than that some cresting waves ran in to each other making a short distance of about 1 meter between them. In those occasions I felt instable and needed to perform quick low braces; but as I saw around me , I was not the only one experiencing that because I saw some friends starting swimming on moments like that.

About surfing can be said that she is a big kayak that needs big waves to surf on. I once catched a real big one resulting in a very long and fast ride, diagonal along the foot of the wave. Whow!
On shorter waves the Distance turns quickly parallel to the waves asking for a high- or low brace. One positive thing was that the long nose of the kayak prevents burrying itself while surfing.
On the other hand I noticed also the disadvantage of the long nose again, because the wind catches the bow all the time giving it much leecocking when paddling against the wind and making me work hard. Sunday I did not have the 20kg of sandload like I had last week. So this is the proof that I light paddler will have problems in strong winds whereas a paddler of 85kg or havier, can manage the kayak more easily.
Besides this, the long bow only once played me a tric while I broke into a particular steep wave. The nose rose higher and higher on the cresting wave because of the high lever, and at the end flipped me diagonal backwards; probably because the aftship sunk so deep that I could not recover. However special for these occasions rolling-up is developed.

After about 2,5 hours we all were tired enough and quited.

A surprise, the next day, was a little poem of one of our clubmembers, dragonfly and well known for her pink boots , who supported us sunday from the beach.
The poem describes exactly how it was and how it felt on sunday:

It is in Dutch, but may she is willing to translate it in the future:


Bruisende branding
kolkend wit
schuimende uitlopers
mannen met pit

verblindende reflectie
Laaghangend licht
scherp stuivend zand
maar kraakhelder zicht

6-7 beaufort
het uiterste vragend
kajaks en peddels
wild en uitdagend

peddelend, vechtend
in krachtige golven
zuchten en steunen
menigmaal bedolven

kleurige helmen
met rooie koppen
zeiknatte spullen
kom we gaan stoppen

nog eventjes sjouwen
dan is het gedaan
met koffie napraten
vermoeid maar voldaan

oktober 2006