Nordkapp Forti

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Mr Ed
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Nordkapp Forti

Post by Mr Ed »

Nordkapp Forti first impressions.

Hello,

When I was researching the Nordkapp Forti there didn’t seem to be that much information out there so I thought I’d try and sum up my thoughts on the boat after one outing.

Just as background I’m 6’ 4” 80Kgs 35” inside leg.
Generally it’s a struggle to get boats to fit.

My paddling background is that though I’ve been in boats 15+ years I’ve only been seriously kayaking the past 4 years but that is pretty much every weekend and I’ve been averaging 50+ days on the water per year in that period. I’m currently BCU 5* level. My main paddling location is the tideraces and overfalls of Anglesey, North Wales.

For the past 2 years my main boat has been a Tiderace Xtra HV but I have tried or demoed a number of boats in that time.
My history with Nordkapp and Valley is that the Nordkapp Jubilee was a boat I learnt to paddle in and I liked the size and shape though got sucked into more comfortable, more forgiving boats through my kayaking career. I always had an urge to go back to the Nordkapp and when an opportunity came up recently I gave it a go.

Please note my thoughts here are based on 1 outing only and I look forward to paddling the boat more in the future and on expeditions.
Conditions were force 3 winds with 1 foot swell. 3-4 knot tides leading to 3-4 feet breaking waves at 4 second intervals in the tiderace at South Stack (a headland off Anglesey)

Great things about the boat:

Beautiful lines- how do Nordkapps always look so good? The lines are AMAZING. In my opinion the only other boat that comes close to it in terms of looks/shape is the Rockpool Isel. Getting rid of the front deck V of the Jubilee adds to the look I think.

Hull shape- nothing really seemed to phase it. Crossing Eddy lines at Penrhyn Mawr was effortless, boils and whirlpools didn’t phase it. Indeed I was over compensating at times as I was so used to the grabby chines of my Xtra.

Speed- I didn’t push it but it was noticeably faster than the Xtra HV, was as fast as an SKUK explorer HV that was in the group but it wasn’t as quick as a Taran 18 I recently demoed. I’m not surprised by this.

Finish- the boat seems very nicely finished.

Weight- The version I tried was Carbon Kevlar with Keel strip but I estimate it was 3-4 Kgs lighter than my Xtra HV and considerably less heavy than an Xplore-X I was acquainted with too. I’d be happy moving it by myself and putting it on the car etc.

Surfing ability- It didn’t seem to get pushed onto the wave (probably a hangover from me being used to that from the flat bottomed Xtra) but with its speed getting onto the wave wasn’t a problem and the level of control at the top of the wave was excellent. For a 17’10” boat the stern didn’t dig in as much as I expected and breaking waves to the stern didn’t seem to bother It too much.
Performance in rough water- the boat handled rough water with ease. It was much more reassuring with a bit of speed in rough water than the flat without movement.

Very easy boat to roll. The rounded hull shape makes it very smooth to get out of the water though you do need to keep the roll going until you’re right the way up. There’s no secondary stability to kick in and help with the last stage like other boats but the initial phase is much easier.

Front day hatch- much better than the pod I tried on a demo Etain!

Cockpit ergonomics. Thigh contact is excellent. The seat is very comfortable. Very different ‘feel’ to the seating position to the Tiderace boats. You feel more ‘on top of the boat’ than with Tideraces- possibly down to a higher seating position? I can fit into the Forti with the pegs on the end and light shoes with my length legs (size 12 feet). I could if I wanted just pad out the bulkhead though if I did have longer legs. It feels like there is more room in the cockpit than a Tiderace Xcite but less length in the cockpit than for example a Rockpool Taran but with a similar width to the Taran.

Low profile in the water- wind shouldn’t impact on the boat too much and indeed it didn’t seem to during the day though the day probably wasn’t the best day to test this.

Aspects that might not be for everyone:

Stability profile- I consider myself an ok paddler. Nordkapp stability (or lack thereof) is legendary. Getting into the boat for the first time was an experience. Not much primary, not much secondary stability and much as I remembered from the Jubilee when I was learning to kayak. I did especially notice the lack of primary a few times when for example stopping to admire the view. You do need to keep your wits about you and I was glad I had experience of different boats to fall back on paddling it during the day. However once you’ve got some speed up it handles beautifully and the trade-off is a rough water boat that isn’t affected that much by differing wave directions. Would I have been happy with the stability profile if I wasn’t expecting it or I’d been mainly paddling for example SKUK with their primary and secondary stability profiles? Hmm not sure. There is a lot of ‘what you’re used to’ here but I look forward to getting used to the profile and making use of its advantages. The boat seemed to respond well to active paddling and making use of the excellent thigh grips and boat contact. It really isn’t a passive-boat. In terms of manoeuvrability the boat was good and responded well to far forward front bow rudders for small changes in direction and deeper stern rudders for larger changes. Edging didn’t move the boat round as much as other boats (probably the lack of chines).

Keyhole cockpit size- admittedly not everyone has long legs but an extra inch length in the keyhole cockpit would make getting in and out of the boat much easier for me. In my Xtra HV I can sit in it and get my legs in and out (just). I can’t do this in the Nordkapp. This may well have implications for cowboy re-entry self-rescues. Something I like to have in my self-rescue repertoire.

Small hatch volume- The hatches won’t hold as much as some other expedition boats. The SKUK explorer HV, Taran 18 and Xplore L and Xplore X all have more ‘visible’ and I suspect ‘actual’ hatch volume. Admittedly though this is hard to tell without pouring water into the hatches. Saying that small bags and pushing to the ends of the boat may well be the way forward and I expect I’ll be able to do a week- long trip without difficulty just maybe without some of the luxuries. However this means the boat will probably see more use as I can definitely use this as a day-boat with no problem.

Pearling bow- the low volume in the bow did lead to pearling at times and the nose burying in the wave in front whilst surfing. Saying that I’m not surprised, this is an expedition boat, not designed as an out and out surf boat and some of the waves were steep.

Valley hatch covers- These were absolutely solid in the water, I have no complaints in terms of water getting in but you almost need to lock them twice when putting them on. Once to fit them in position and the second to push the lower portion down to fit into the hull recess that can be fiddly and easy to miss to get them fully sealed. The kayaksport hatch covers I’ve been used to are much quicker on and off (I’m not commenting on the amount of water they can keep out). Hatch covers also have losing lines attached to the boat grab lines- why not add these to the inside?

Overall:

I’m really impressed by the boat. It handled beautifully, the contact and level of control are brilliant and it was a really nice blend of speed, control and rough water ability. I really enjoyed my first outing and I look forward to putting the boat through its paces more in the coming months/years.

Cheers

Mr Ed

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

An excellent review and well written, thank you Mr Ed. I recognise a good bit of your comments from my own experience with a Nordkapp LV, which I have had for about 11 years. I am glad Valley seem to have sorted cockpit ergonomics on the Forti as this was the weakest part of the LV. Sadly that boat has now been discontinued.

Douglas

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4x4maddog
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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by 4x4maddog »

Great review I can't wait to try a Forti but I'm afraid too I case I feel the need to purchase one.

How does it compare to a old HM? I paddle a early 80s hm which I like but a retractable skeg and larger cockpit would be nice I'm 6'5" so the rear deck shuffle into an ocean cockpit is a squeeze.

How much freeboard did you have on the boat at your weight I'm a bit heavier at 98kgs is there likely to be much capacity left for camping gear?

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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by rowlandW »

For 4x4maddog:

My first boat was an HM ocean cockpit early '80s and I now have a Forti, so I can compare them directly. I'm 6 ft 2 in and 99 kg; provided you go alpine (no cast iron skillet, BBQ or excessive beer!) there is ample spare weight capacity for gear and still be comfortable. A greater concern may be your leg length - I'm a 34 in inseam and the bulkhead is a custom fit very close to the rear edge of the forward hatch rim. Any longer legs and there may be a problem... (but the size 12 feet fit in fine!) You might also contact the underside of the deck pod on entry and exit.

You need to try one... :-)

Rowland

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4x4maddog
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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by 4x4maddog »

That's good to hear next time I'm in Oban il probably have a wee demo of one. Interesting about the bulkhead in my HM Iv foamed out the bulkhead as a footrest can't remember how much padding is on there. Good to hear there is room for big feet.

I pack pretty light I'm not take the kitchen sink type of person. Look forward to having a demo but not sure my overdraft is.

What other boats perform similarly to the Nordkapp? Iv really only paddled valley boats Aquanaught, Anas, Nordkapp HM and the plastic version. Once paddled a plastic Capella didn't like it.

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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by rowlandW »

I suspect you know what I'm going to say... 'in my experience, none!' :-) In over 50 years of paddling (I started early!) I've paddled a fair few boats from nearly all the manufacturers and I don't think there is anything else out there that handles in the same way. It really is the sports car of the paddling world. What might be worth a shot is one of the sportier models from Tiderace - my experience with their boats is limited to the Xplore and Pace 17.

If Aled reads this - what would you recommend from the range to match the original Nordkapp style of performance?

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Mr Ed
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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by Mr Ed »

The Tideraces and the Nordkapp are about as far apart in terms of hull shape that I can think imho. The tiderace designs seem to be harder chined and developed for their ability to bounce back from edge with solid secondary stability. Even the Xcite and Xplore have those chined regions to a certain extent though there is more emphasis in some models than others.

I'd completely echo Rowland's comments about the leg length. After having paddled the boat more I'd say it's the one thing that I have been really struggling to get on with is the bashed shins getting in and out and the difficulty of getting in and out quickly. The performance once you're 'in' is great but it's a backdeck and slide rather than sit and get your legs in afterwards. I think Valley have missed a bit of a trick really and should probably have added an extra inch in terms of length to the keyhole and possibly shaped the front day hatch a bit better. My tiderace Xtra doesn't have an especially big keyhole but even then it's got an inch more than the Nordkapp.

I'm definitely thinking of adding some weight in the hatches for general paddling too!...

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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by 4x4maddog »

Not sure Iv ever managed to get into a kaya bum on seat then legs even in river boats with the "bigdeck" I watch people do it with envy.

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Mr Ed
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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by Mr Ed »

Nordkapp Forti follow on review.

I've now been paddling the boat considerably more and feel better placed to give more feedback. I've just got back from a Scotland trip where we managed approximately 10 days on the water. Most of that was with full expedition loading and a week + in terms of provisions.

Overall the boat for my weight and height is much much better with load. With load the stability profile improves considerably. At a self weight of 85 kgs I had approximately 10-12 kg of load in the front and the same in the back and that seemed to get the boat to where it needed to be. With load the initial tippiness disappears and you have a very responsive fast touring kayak that cuts through the water beautifully. The seam with the load wasn't near the waterline but the boat did sit lower overall. It didn't seem massively bothered by wind but I did deploy the skeg a few times as it wanted to track into the wind F4-5.

The boat does give a wet ride and again I noticed the bow being quite low into the waves a few times.

Things I really didn't rate on the trip- again I have issues with the cockpit being a tad small but I can live with this. The thing that really annoyed were the cheap plastic hooks on the handle elastics at either end- Valley if I've one piece of advice for the sake of your customers knuckles get new ones! The number of times I lifted my boat by the handles just to get a plastic hook on elastic detaching and travelling at high velocity towards my hands was too many! Get one that locks or that doesn't unclip as easily!

Overall on expedition it was a great boat and a good choice. Other boats might allow more load/space but I can't say I didn't pack anything as a result.

Whilst I was in Scotland too I managed to get a chance to compare 3 generations of Nordkapp. A 1970's original. A 2007 Jubilee and the Forti. It was fascinating seeing the differences between them:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 0cd16cf350

The Jubilee looked like the odd one out. Much higher bow ~1 inch than either of the others. The front V deck giving considerably more cockpit room (and incidentally making getting in and out much easier for those of us with long legs), probably a dryer ride with the higher bow and foredeck. More rocker throughout. Approximately 1/2" greater depth throughout giving a much greater volume boat and roomier hatches, wider too and more pronounced edges (chines) than either the original or Forti making it more stable and friendly, the ends were pinched as per the valley press release. The hull in the Forti was right back to the original shape to the last inch.

So interesting times. In terms of the boat it's a superb load carrier. I wouldn't buy it as a day boat unless you want to expand vast amounts of energy in the day just staying upright. It's responsive, crisp to control and well behaved with a skeg (with load) It rolls easily and the valley finish is excellent. Compared to the jubilee they look like completely different boats. Just be careful if you're taller that you fit ok. I'm right on the edge with it at my height and leg length though once in my feet have got pedals and a couple of inches to spare until the bulkhead but I'd want to use that for stretching. My friend who'd had the original Nordkapp declared it to be back to the original in terms of handling and responsiveness and said he'd have bought the Forti over the Jubilee if it had been available when he got the Jubilee.

Hope that gives a bit more insight.

Cheers

Mr Ed

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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by Kinnguffix »

Here is a recent review of the Nordkapp Førti at Paddling.net:

http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showRev ... ?prod=4101

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Re: Nordkapp Forti

Post by swagstaff »

If the reviews listed here piques your interest then Sea Kayak Oban have demo days at Largs Marina October 30th, inverness Area November 5th and Stonehaven Harbour November 6th. The Nordkapp Forti and the new Valley Sironas in both composite and plastic will be amongst 20 sea kayaks and surf skis available to demo. If you email info@seakayakoban.com we will keep you up todate with times and a full list of boats. Alternatively any day we are open in Oban is a demo day , again its best to email first as our opening times are variable in the autumn and winter. Yes we do have a stock Forti if you are really keen.
WHITEWATER ALL YEAR LONG

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