Valley Nordkapp LV first impression/pics^

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Douglas Wilcox
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Valley Nordkapp LV first impression/pics^

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

The Blub said "Designed for either the lighter paddler who wants an expedition proven sea kayak or a larger paddler who wants the legendary performance of the full sized Nordkapp but wants more maneuverability and doesn't need the full carrying capacity of the full sized version."

Two friends have Nordkapp Jubilees and I have enjoyed paddling both when fully loaded, but even with my weight of 85 kg I found them a bit bouncy when unloaded in a chop with wind. I was really looking forward to the arrival of the demo Nordkapp LV from SPS.

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This boat really is a thing of beauty. It is smaller all round than the Jubilee and it has a lot of keel rocker and both ends have been substantially thinned. The construction and finish were perfect, easily as good as Rockpool who led the field last year. We are also testing a 2006 Aleut2 which has a similar outstanding finish so this bodes well for Valley's current production. It is also a very light boat, even in standard construction it is lighter than a Rockpool Alaw.

So far it has been tested on three days on the Clyde by RichardC, LizW and myself. 2 of these days involved very gusty cross off winds of up to force8 and one perfect sunny day with no wind.

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My first hope that this would be a day boat for larger paddlers was dashed when I tried to fit in it. A combination of a low cockpit with rear mounted thigh grips meant I literally had to force my legs into position. I can't tell you how disappointed I was. It's a pity as the similar sized P&H Sirius has a cockpit which is much more accommodating for people with thick thighs, as the grips are moulded further forward.

But I persisted and I am glad I did because this boat feels alive on the water. It responds to every nuance of edging and change of fore and aft trim and this makes it a wonderful manouver orientated boat, easily as manouverable as a day boat like the Rockpool Alaw/Bach and much more manouverable than other expedition orientated boats like the P&H Quest or NDK Explorer.

It's like riding a bicycle though, stability is great when you are paddling but soon disappears when you stop. There is not a great deal of primary stability (so I found it difficult to take photos from) but having a round bottom, it is less disconcerting than a V bottomed P&H Sirius which tends to flip from side to side. It responds superbly during edged turns but unladen there is not a great degree of 2y stability and in the wind I found myself using more bracing strokes than I am used to.

When rolling, I found the 2ndry stability just goes without any warning, unlike a Rockpool which tends to stiffen up and give a very stable lean.

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This boat rolls really easily. I then loaded it with 40kg of gear. Even with my starting weight, of 85kg, this did make the limit of secondary stability much more predictable. This means that if you are light and value 2ndry stability, it might be best to view this as an expedition boat rather than as a day boat.

In winds up to F4 the boat is extremely balanced on all points without using the skeg. Above this it weathercocks but it responds superbly to small adjustments of the skeg and it allows effortless paddling on any course. RichardC has often decried the use of the skeg, saying good technique means you do not need it and he has praised the Rockpool boats for not having skegs. I have always disagreed with Richard about this, perhaps because I have used my Alaw on more open windy crossings than he has. (You will know from other posts that Richardhas a particular affinity for keeping very close to shore). However, even Richard who paddled side by side with a Rockpool Alaw Bach found that using the skeg in the Nordkapp LV made for a much more enjoyable paddle in strong wind. The surprising thing is that even with the skeg down you can still turn by edging, unlike in a Quest.

There were some small 18" swells and it caught and surfed these very easily and was manouverable when planing on the wave. I could not do meaninful speed testing because of the wind, but this is a very easily driven hull and it certainly felt fast on the day.

I have only paddled it for 5 hours so far but apart from the problem with my thighs, I did not partecularly find the small peg footrests comfortable. To use them, my size ten boots were restricted by the curvature of the hull and deck. It made me realize that the adjustable angled footplate that Rockpool use really is the current state of the art. If I was to buy a Nordkap LV (and I hope many of you will) I would either get a custom bulkhead or not bother with the footrests and pad it out with closed cell foam.

The seat was a moulded plastic job with padding but it sat low in the hull unlike some similar seats from other manufacturers. However, your bottom is still several cm above the hull and if I was to buy one of these, I would consider removing the seat and replacing it with some foam as this would give room for my thighs under the cockpit rim. The seat back was superb with 4 straps to hold its rear position and prevent it folding under your bum when doing wet reentries. The other fittings included the VCP heavy rubber hatches which are difficult to fit when your hands are cold but are really waterproof. The exposed part of the skeg contol wire (by the adjuster knob) is enclosed in a stainless steel sleeve to prevent kinking, a very nice touch that should be more widely adopted.

This is a superbly made expedition boat for smaller paddlers which is as manoeuverable as a day boat albeit at the cost of some 2ndry stability. It really achieves Valley's aim of extending the Norkapp expedition experience to lighter paddlers. It is a boat that the progressing paddler will delight in for it's responsiveness. Sadly, cockpit size limits its potential as a dayboat for some larger paddlers.

Overall verdict? Outstanding, beauty really isn't skin deep!

Douglas

PS This is a first impression! More testing and photos to come.
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Re: Valley Nordkapp LV first impression/pics

Post by Jim »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:So far it has been tested on three days on the Clyde by RichardC, LizW and myself. 2 of these days involved very gusty cross off winds of up to force8 and one perfect sunny day with no wind.
Aha, sounds like Friday, Saturday and Sunday to me. Cross offshore fits, force 8 - not where I was but probably not far off. Friday my mate was on about a 4.5m sail, I was on my 4.6m kite - it just about had me going in the gusts which were over 40mph, oh for that speed and steady! Sunday I was on my 10.5m kite for a while but the gusts were too much for it and I gave up, my mate was on I think he said a 5.7 sail, so it was a little less than Friday. Most of the Troon kitesurfers were on about 9-9.5m and the other windsurfers around 5.5-6m.

I have to admit the waves were probably big enough that I could have surfed them in a kayak (unusual on the Clyde), but I don't think I would have been deliberately out sea kayaking in those conditions.....

Hmm, baby Nordkapp does sound good, except I am not really needing a dayboat and if I was it would almost have to be an Anas Acuta, or maybe not? I think I am going to have to arrange to meet up with Mr. C and do some testing, not that I am especially in the market for a new boat but there are a few I want to have a go in!

Douglas complains about lack of space in that cockpit - looks massive to me because I'm used to an ocean cockpit :-) Which reminds me, I was going to PM Dr. W and keep forgetting!

JIM
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Post by CaileanMac »

Like akinning sea kayaks to cars - its an analogy that works for me. Looks like a nice little modern sporty Mini Cooper to me?? British racing green - what a classic British sea kayak colour.

Would like to get a afloat in one at somepoint but appears from the photos and Douglas's initial review that some of issues plaguing the H20 & Jubilee for smaller paddlers & day use have been removed. Good to hear that the age old skeg 'kinking' issue is being tackled and thought about as is having a decent backband as standard.

Douglas, cracking wee mini review with the good points and the not so good points as ever. Look forward to the full review.

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Post by RichardCree »

In winds up to F4 the boat is extremely balanced on all points without using the skeg. Above this it weathercocks but it responds superbly to small adjustments of the skeg and it allows effortless paddling on any course. RichardC has often decried the use of the skeg, saying good technique means you do not need it and he has praised the Rockpool boats for not having skegs.
Douglas a misunderstanding me thinks! i may have said practice without, in case it breaks. Depending on the boat and the weight / ability of the paddler the skeg may or may not be required. Most of the modern boats have been designed to be used with a skeg, the designers cut away the back section making the boat more manouvarble, and by using the skeg you can tighten up that manouvaribility when needed.

I did however like the Knordkapp, it puts a bit of excitment back.
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Post by Douglas Wilcox »

The Scottish test team continued testing the Valley Nordkapp LV this past Saturday.

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Yes LV does stand for low volume.


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Comparative testing included the Rockpool Alaw Bach.


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The end of another fine testing day, this was shot just 15 minutes from the above 2 photos. Confused? See the full story at the Scottish Sea Kayaking Photo Gallery.

The full test report will be published in April Paddles under the title "Les Trois Valleys" together with the Aleut Sea 2 and the Aquanaut.

Douglas :o)
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Post by RichardCree »

Another fun day but we did get some funny looks. In the picture above does anyone else think the knordkapp LV is sitting to low in the water?

We also cleared the tree trunks that were blocking river right at the top of the weir.
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Post by CaileanMac »

Douglas,

Are we going to get a review of the plastic Nordkapp?

Richard - you should be well used to funny looks by now ;-) Looks like a lot of fun was had by all!

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Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Cailean>
Are we going to get a review of the plastic Nordkapp?
Hi Cailean, yes, but not for a while, it actually takes ages to do a proper test, different conditions, different paddlers, different comparison boats etc.

As the Nordkapp LV is designed as a touring boat, I wanted to see how it would perform in tidal races, crossing eddylines etc. We arranged a trip to Cuan Sound but unfortunately the Nordkapp did not arrive till next day. That's why paddling up the tidal part of the River Doon to the tidal weir is such a valuable local resource. You can sit in an eddy below it then launch yourself into a current which my GPS showed was running at 26km/hour. That's a good bit more than most tidal races.

Douglas.
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