More Solway testing of Rockpool Alaw Bach/Alaw^

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

More Solway testing of Rockpool Alaw Bach/Alaw^

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:13 am

Image

Identical hull shapes but the Alaw (to the rear) has a higher cockpit rim than the Alaw Bach and suits larger paddlers with longer, thicker legs. Otherwise the seat and cockpit size rim shape are identical. The hull shapes and snug cockpits mean these boats thrive in confused water.

Image

If you look at the shading on the bow, you will see that the Alaw carries its volume well forward into the bow. This is good on short steep surf and unlike the Quest (which has a very fine bow) it does not dip its bow paddling into steep waves and unlike an unladen Nordkapp Jubilee it does not throw its bow high into the air in these conditions.


Image

Edging shortens waterline length and increases manouverability. However, with my weight and a long weekend's camping gear, it is not so manouverable as when unladen or with a lighter kayaker.

At first I thought the narrow extension at the stern was designed to be a skeg but at rest when the boat is unladen, it barely sits in the water. As you build up speed the boat squats back and it engages slightly in the water, not enough to act as a skeg but enough to increase the waterline length for good boat speed.

Most of this "skeg" remains above the water and its windage probably contributes to the one slight weakness of these boats. In windy flat water conditions they weathercock. Experts will edge but for intermediates on a long expedition leg (such as in the lee of a long peninsula) this is tiring.

Image

All sea boats roll well but these roll more easily than either a Jubilee or a Quest. On a rentry roll surprisingly little water enters the cockpit.

Image

They are very good off the wind and make the most of even small waves. Unlike the Quest and the Jubilee (which also both surf well) you can control direction on large waves very easily by using the hull's relatively sharp edges under the cockpit area. The snug fit in the cockpit further aids steering by edging.

The finish and workmanship on these 2005 Rockpool boats is superior to both the 2005 Quest and 2005 Nordkapp which were available for comparison.

Things are now getting very expensive! I bought an Alaw as a fun day boat to compliment my Quest (which is still an outstanding boat for camping expeditions). My much lighter daughter Jennifer also uses the Alaw for camping trips. But on Sunday my wife Alison tried the Alaw Bach in force 4 winds with some small following seas. She loved it and so we have now placed an order for a Bach!


ImageAlmost certainly this means her Quest will shortly be coming up for sale!


My friend Mike has also ordered a Bach, as a day boat to compliment his Quest for expedition use.

It's beginning to be like windsurfing and river boating, if you can afford it, a pair of boats might help maximise your enjoyment of a very wide range of conditions. Let's hope future developments do not get too specialised though, currently there must be substantially more than a hundred different windurf boards in the 2005 market. That means choosing the right one is very difficult!

Thanks again to Richard Cree of Knoydart for the loan of the demo Alaw Bach.

Douglas

User avatar
CCL
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 11:55 pm
Location: Oxford

Post by CCL » Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:20 am

Hi Douglas

Great pictures and great to hear that you are no longer having to 'fight' over one alaw, though I guess you may need a bigger garage/toybox?! I hope to get my new boat soon too.

Out of interest, did you try the alaw and the alaw bach? What are your thoughts on how to choose between the 2 boats given that the hull is exactly the same. The alaw bach, with its lower cockpit area, may look more 'conventional' to some?

Claire

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Alaw/Alaw Bach

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Jul 03, 2005 10:34 pm

Hello Claire,

Yes I have tried both. I have fairly thick thighs and I find the higher cockpit rim of the Alaw more comfortable for a longer paddle. Interestingly the Alaw is recommended for taller paddlers but I am not that tall. I like the Bach, very secure jammed in position for me. Great for a short play.

The Alaw high knee position means that taller kayakers fit in a boat that has the forward bulkhead further back than most boats. This reduces the cockpit volume and means you have less water inside after a re-entry roll.

One surprise for a boat which is a lot smaller than my Quest is the weight. The Alaw with the new lighter kayksport hatch covers is 26.5kg. My Quest in full expedition spec with a keelstrip, skeg, heavy rubber kayaksport hatches, compass, towing hardware, electric pump and lead acid battery is 28.5kg, so the Alaw is only 9% less.

Still that 2kg might make the difference between getting the boat onto a roofrack yourself!

Douglas :o)

User avatar
CCL
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 11:55 pm
Location: Oxford

Post by CCL » Sun Jul 03, 2005 11:09 pm

Very useful info Douglas. Thank you. I maintain that it doesn't matter how wonderful the boat is on the water - it won't get as far as the water if I can't put it on the roofrack myself without either ending up with a disc lesion or broken wing mirrors. I may have to opt for a lighter lay up?!

I was paddling with Zoe today and noticed (for the first time!) a sticker in my North Shore Calypso which says that is 22kg. Since then I have added a keel strip. There are no extra fittings such as electric pumps etc. The 22kg lay up doesn't seem to indicate a shorter life span.....it is nine years old and I can vouch for giving it plenty of use since it has been in my careful hands - one careful lady owner and all that! It's not kevlar/carbon either.

With more and more women paddling who are prepared to admit that they can't safely load a 28kg boat onto Jbars (and I know a few chaps who are in this category too!), I'd say that lighter boats is a fair challenge to manufacturers!
Claire

Post Reply