Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SUP and the Shuswap River with Eli Fischbuch

This season has been a bit different for me than last because I am not doing as many races.  I decided this year to just commit to four races over the summer and this has given me some time to do some other kinds of paddling and adventures.  I have done some long paddles on the Shuswap, spent a day paddling at Adams Lake and helped with some kids camps at Kalavida Surf Shop.

One super cool paddle that I did was on the lower part of Shuswap river (lies Northeast of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia).  This part of the river is wide and slow moving which makes it a nice relaxing time on the water. Even for the more beginner paddler you can still have a fun time on this river. 

 I started at Grinrod Park and I finished at Mara Lake, which was a total of 18 km.  This may seem like a lot but you are on a river that does have a current so it is not so bad, there are even cool places to stop along the way for a lunch break like little islands in the middle of the river.

One of the reasons we decided to paddle this part of the river is on July 27 the Lower Shuswap River Stewardship Society held a “No Wake Flotilla” and paddled this stretch of river to raise awareness about the effects of power boats on the shoreline and the river. We had planned to take part but then couldn’t go that day so went the next weekend instead.  When we were on the river we could see the effects from boat wakes – there are lots of trees fallen in the river because the banks have eroded away.  When we got closer to Mara Lake there were a few boats towing wakeboarders or tubes on the river.  So even though this is a very easy river to navigate you still have to watch out for boats. Most of them do slow down but you should still keep to the side and just keep an eye when you go around blind corners. 

Since this is a river I used an all round surf board just because it is more stable than a race board and I was in no hurry to get down.  I also used my Werner Nitro M, which I found worked perfect for this river because the paddle blade does not have a huge surface area so it would not put a lot of strain on my shoulders.  You want to be comfortable for when you are paddling for along time. 

Next up for me is the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River which I am super pumped about.

***we will be seeing Eli this weekend at the Kalamalka Classic in Vernon, BC hosted by Kalavida Surf Shop and we are sure we will hear all about his Columbia Gorge experience.***

Friday, August 15, 2014

Jackson Karma RG (Rock Garden) - Review by JF Marleau

A huge thanks to JF Marleau for taking the time to get out in the Karma RG on the West Coast of Vancouver Island near his home in Ucluelet and providing this review.  JF is a kayaking guide, an instructor and a co-owner of SKILS (Sea Kayak Instruction and Leadership Systems).  He is also a member of the Kokatat Regional Team.

The first day I was surfing the Karma RG was with whales around the surf zone. Unfortunately, the photos are not great of the Karma RG and the gray whales.

Coming from a sea kayak surf kayaking background, this kayak is a new paradigm. I had some very fun surf sessions with this ultra maneuverable kayak.


I felt extremely comfortable in the Karma RG. I am 6.1 and 220 pounds. I love the easy and quick adjustments for a tight but comfortable fit provided with the Karma RG. Furthermore, I like how the foot rest absorbs the shock while I am vertical facing downward.

I like a lot the low back deck that makes rolling very easy.

A female friend of mine, 5.5 and 145 pounds tried the Karma RG and it was too big for her despite all the adjustments possible and the addition of extra padding. At this point JK is not planning to offer a smaller version of the Karma RG to cater to smaller people. I have a feeling that this kayak will be successful among kayakers and consequently this could possibly change.

Form and Performance

The shape of the kayak makes it ultra maneuverable. The speed of this kayak is slow when compared to a regular sea kayak but faster than some other whitewater kayaks.

It does track well and hold a line very well in the surf. Sea kayakers surfing long kayaks will need to adapt their wave selection as the Karma RG’s length and capability to catch small waves is different.

The heavy duty Go Pro mount is very reliable and solid. You can rely on them. This is refreshing as I have seen many failures of Go Pro Mounts in rough waters.

The whirlpool handles are so handy in assisted rescues or in case you swim with your kayak. This feature is great. I also have this feature on my sea kayaks. I recommend to anybody with a sea kayak to get whirlpool handles ,it makes rescues easier and save your fingers and hands from possible injuries.

Jackson Kayak has improved the tightness of the hatch cover from their first prototype for the mass production of the Karma RG. Despite having good hatches covers, it is recommended to ensure you have proper floatation in your hatch (s). The Karma RG has only a rear hatch. My experience over the years tells me nothing in kayaking is dry if you challenge rough enough conditions.

Like other whitewater kayaks, it has a drain plug. When I was emptying it in the hard sand, the drain plug hole was buried. This is not a big deal. Ideally for my needs I wish the drain plug was 1 or 2 inches higher.

This kayak has a lot of metal safety brackets. I was impressed to see so many of them. This feature makes it easy to lock your kayak where it's likely to be stolen.

The handles to carry the kayak were comfortable which makes long distance carry much more enjoyable.


I only used the kayak during 3 sessions in the surf due to my busy work schedule. Unfortunately the surf was not great. I wish I had time to use it for rock gardening. This Ocean Play Boat is very versatile for surfing, rock gardening and also for the river or overnight trip. I have to admit the very large stern hatch provides a substantial amount of storage for overnight camping on the ocean or the river. If I was guiding, teaching or acting as safety kayaker, I would love to use this kayak to carry extra safety equipment. Furthermore, the large stern hatch allows for typical sea kayak rescues like the T-Rescue.

Calling it RG (for rock garden) might influence people to think it’s only for rock gardening. Believe me, this ocean play boat is very versatile. I truly enjoyed playing with it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Updates from the Field - Hurricane Kayaks

While I am not in Salt Lake City this year, first time not going since 1997/98 (due to a family commitment), it was still important to me to get you updates from our annual industry trade show, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

I could not do this without great peeps on the ground so thanks to the following folks who are in Salt Lake City:  Colin Kemp, Johno Foster, Steve Jordan, Doug Ragan and Jameson Redding

First up today, Hurricane Kayaks...we LOVE these boats.  The weight is a game-changer for a lot of people and we have had first hand experience, on the water with people experiencing it and it's awesome.

Sojourn 126 in the new purple - photo: Craig Richter
There is plenty new from Hurricane Kayaks for 2015 and here we introduce the Sojourn Series.  This exciting new day-touring line will surprise and satisfy paddlers of all levels. With moderate rocker, a hard-chined hull and deep-V keel, the Sojourn line will make you feel like a champion the minute you hit the water. High initial stability offers beginners a solid platform for learning, while the Sojourn’s multi-chined hull allows experienced paddlers to carve and edge like a dream. Thanks to their lightweight thermoform construction, not only do the Sojourns outperform polyethylene competitors, they offer beauty and functionality in a highly featured package. Integral deck lines provide stiffness and subtle aesthetics, while comfortable handles, perimeter safety lines, security bar, bow and stern bulkheads, fore and aft storage hatches, adjustable thigh braces, a cool-mesh Airestream seat system, and optional Smarttrack rudder system leave you wanting for nothing. Simply put, the Sojourn kayak line offers superb performance and seaworthiness in a package that’s hard to beat.

3 sizes:

Sojourn 126           Sojourn 135           Sojourn 146
Length: 12’ 6”        Length: 13’ 5”         Length: 14’ 6”
Width: 24 inches     Width: 24 inches     Width: 24 inches
Weight: 43 lbs         Weight: 45 lbs        Weight: 47 pounds

Available: September 2014 --- September 2014 --- November 2014

The Sojourn 126 and Sojourn 135 are en route to us right now!

Sojourn 135 in Mango photo: Craig Richter

Monday, August 4, 2014

Just in from Salt Lake City...Jackson Kayak Fishing 2015

It's great to have awesome folks on the ground at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City so we can give you this awesome Sneak Peek at the 2015 Jackson Kayak Fishing line up.  Huge kudos to Product Manager, Damon Bungard and Jameson Redding.

We are super excited about all the new fishing kayaks but particularly the Kraken designed for offshore kayak fishing, perfect for the coastlines of Canada!

Top overview of the Kraken

What is the difference between the Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 and the Kraken?  Answer by the Kraken's designer, Jim Sammons.

The Cuda is 14'3" 30.5" wide the Kraken 15'6" long 29.5 wide. These dimensions alone will give the Kraken much better glide. In the Prototype the difference was remarkable. It was no effort to keep a pace of over 4mph per the GPS on the Kraken while the Cuda was close to 3 or less when chop present.

The Kraken has more rocker and more flare in the bow for better lift in surf and chop.
There won't be a stand assist strap on the Kraken, I am sure some guys will still be standing in it but that is not what it was made for.

The Kraken comes with the new KKrate which is secured into the tankwell via track. This Kkrate and the new bait pump scupper will make a great live bait solution for those using live bait.

Adjustable trim seat is a game changer for those with a full bait tank at the rear or full fish bag in the bow.
The new hinged and angled center hatch will make interior access much easier for storing fish or your rods.

Closer view of the top of the Kraken

Bow of the Kraken

Bottom of the Kraken -
The transducer scupper is just behind the center hatch so you get very good water contact at all times,. This also makes it easy to run wires though the side of the center hatch area to the battery holder or head unit. You can see the transducer scupper in this bottom shot of the kraken.

More to come over the next few days and weeks.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin