Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top Secret!

These are the first pictures of the new "Rush 7'2". It's the one in grey.

Designed by Peter Orton this is how he describes it:

"Based heavily on the Rush we have reduced the length by approximately 4-5"
(about 10-12.5cm), 80% of this coming off the rear end. Rocker has been increased slightly, again especially at the rear. Although the back has been shortened, rear volume is about the same due to an increase in the size of the buoyancy bulge. What are we trying to achieve? Because of the high inherent speed of the Rush we wanted to see what we got by sacrificing a little in return for a looser feel and quicker direction changes. Probably at its best on steep fast breaks but time will tell! We don't really see this as a replacement for the regular Rush, more a choice for those who like a looser feel or paddle steeper breaks."

We should have the first prototype at the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival in two weeks time along with the new IC boat, the Nemesis and the rest of Valley's surf kayak line up. The word is that some of the world's top wave skiers will be at the event including World Champion Mathieu Barbarit! There may be a special 'surf off' heat with two top surf kayakers against two wave skiers and a stand up paddle surfer which would be very cool. Let's hope we get some waves but perhaps not as big as this one which was definitely the biggest wave of my life at Steamers Lane on 'Big Tuesday' last December.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Kayak Rep...

I guess there might be folk out there who envy the carefree, independent life of a kayak rep. When I left my secure job as a policeman back in the UK I had no idea what I was going to do for a job when I moved to California and when I was offered the opportunity to rep for Valley on the west coast I jumped at it. Surely there can be nothing better than talking kayaking all day and I will have all those boats and all that kit to use whenever I want?

Well of course the reality is a little different to how I had imagined and the truth is I am on the water less now than at any time in my 30+ years of being involved in the sport. Of course some of that is because I am a new dad and have more responsibilities. But it is true that no-one from the UK can understand just how vast North America is until you live here and discover how long it takes to drive from Seattle to San Diego. I clock up some ridiculous mileage as I truck up and down I5 in my trusty Ford E250, pulling by 20’ box trailer full of kayaks with a stack on the roof of the van for good measure. I flinch as I swipe my credit card yet again and fill the tank with gas and see my carbon footprint grow as quickly as my bank balance shrinks. I check my watch repeatedly, as the miles to San Francisco slowly reduce on my journey home from yet another road trip.

So why on earth do it? Why leave my new family for days at a time to sell boats? It is a question I often ask myself and is often asked of me (especially by my wife!) The fact is I love my job. I love to meet new customers who quickly become my friends. I love being associated with the sport that I am so passionate about and I love spending time with folk who share that passion. I love to travel. I have probably seen more of the west coast than many Americans who have lived here all their lives. Of course the driving sucks sometimes but when I drive beneath Castle Crags on the climb up the snow covered flanks of Mt Shasta, or follow the winding Eel River on Highway 101, dodging the towering redwoods I am reminded of what an incredibly beautiful country I am now fortunate enough to call my home.

And just occasionally I get on the water: Trinidad Head, going airborne off 20ft swells, ‘testing’ out the new Atlantic single from North Shore Sea Kayaks and my new line of Barz Sport Goggles,

or at C-Street, Ventura getting multiple airs with my Rush in near perfect conditions ‘testing’ the new Mammoth spray skirt from ElephantWear.

And then when Gina and Shea Bella get to join me on the road life takes on a whole different pattern. I know how fortunate I am to spend so much time with my daughter and to see her grow from tiny newborn to aspirant toddler. To hear her chuckle as she plays with her mum on the backseat as we trundle up the Freeway and to hold her until she falls asleep in yet another motel room. It makes it all worthwhile and I wouldn’t swap my new life with anyone!