Thinking of a 17+ft poly kayak wait!!

-- Last Updated: Dec-13-05 3:29 AM EST --

A few days ago I had a most interesting paddle, not because of where I was, although Penhryn Mawr (Off Anglesey in Wales) is always interesting but because of who I met and what they were paddling. Enjoying the big swell and large tide were Peter Orton (ex P&H chief designer) and his partner in crime Jason Buxton (ex Pyranha), the kayaks? a new poly Nordkapp and the new larger poly Aquanaut. There has been a massive stir on this side of the pond since the boys joined Valley earlier in the year, but that’s, as they say, another story!

Anyway, although they were keen to point out boats were pre-production, both looked fantastic, especially the Nordkapp that must have the sexiest lines of any sea kayak. I managed to blag a quick paddle in each and these are my thoughts. Just so you know my point of reference is an NDK Explorer that I have paddled for approx 5 years.

First the Nordkapp, to be fair this is the one I spent least time in but I did think it was one of the most playful kayak I have ever paddled, for such a long boat (nearly 18ft) I could really chuck it around. It most reminded me of the old Pintail I used to have, except that it definitely tracked better and seemed very good in the relatively strong wind we had that day.

The Aquanaut. To me this was the biggest surprise. I have paddled an Arganaut and that felt way to big for me. This one although roomier than the regular Aquanaut RM was much more like paddling my Explorer although with a little extra volume around knees that if anything made it more comfortable and a better fit. Probably not as lively as the Nordkapp it still surfed like a demon and best of all was thoroughly predictable. If I am being honest it is the first kayak that I have found more confidence inspiring in the rough than my explorer.

Anyway obviously these are only my thoughts, I hope some of you find them of interest. I for one am looking forward to trying the full production versions when they are out in the New Year

Happy Paddling, John

Any other Valley info?
Glad to hear about the boats. Valley is promising many new models for 2006. I hope they are able to maintain/restore their QC.

Word I was hearing this autumn was that recent shipments of Valley boats had issues (gel coat blisters, spidering, etc…) that had not been common previously. I was told (third party) that the issues likely resulted from the new plant.

Did the guys mention anything about their new layups?

Are they going to update the website sometime?

Is Valley going to become a presence again for major expeditions? Are they considering underwriting paddlers or venutures as does NDK?ch as TITS)

Oh Man!
Good on you for reporting here!

While I’m not doubtful there have been issues with Valley’s transition, I’m very positive about their future. I think the new powers in Valley have shown a real interest in the end user, and I’m confident that the boats will reflect that genuine concern for the sport.

Had a good chat
Yes. I did manage to have a good chat with the lads, both on the water and in a local watering hole after the paddle.

The information regarding new products all seems good. Apparently the two boats they were paddling were final pre-production specification models and everything was looking good for their official January launch.

They did mention their new website and they said this should be live before Christmas. The same people are doing this did their 2006 catalogue. I’ve seen the catalogue and if that anything to go by the website should be a real step forward.