Valley, P&H, North Shore

-- Last Updated: Oct-19-06 5:36 PM EST --

Latest news from British Sea Kayaking. As regulars will know I like nothing better than to spread whatever news and gossip I hear about the British sea kayaking scene. Well here are my two latest bit of news.

Firstly the annual South West show, this is a good event put on by one of the top UK shops AS Water Sports, it main benefit is the ability to, view the latest kayaks, talk directly to the manufacturers and demo the kayaks on the water, all at the same event.

For Sea kayak enthusiasts both Valley and P&H were present. I was especially hoping to try the recently announced P&H Cetus, especially as this is the first new kayak being launched since former P&H (now Valley) designer and front man Peter Orton left 18 months ago. Disappointingly, not only was this not present, neither of the Pyranha/P&H lads could tell me where in the UK I could see or try one. I’d be interested hearing from someone who has tried it because I believe it was shown and demo’d at the US outdoor show. It wasn’t just this kayak that was missing, P&H seemed light on other models in their demo fleet however they did have some nice glitter show kayaks. Valley was well represented with a full compliment of demo kayaks and new product wise a very hot looking plastic surf kayak. Interesting from the a closet business observers prospective was the importance both companies seem to put on this type of event, whist Pyranha had two staff members, both much more aligned with the white water product, Valley had both their main men there. As they say the devil is in the detail.

Anyway now the main, the juiciest and certainly biggest piece of news I’ve had in ages. Word from a very reliable source is that North Shore is back with a vengeance. For those who don’t know or remember, North Show was a solid number three in the UK sea kayak market before NDK came to the scene. More of interest to those who have followed the development of modern sea kayaks is that they were the first company to realise the value of a shorter performance sea kayak. The North Shore “Shore Line” being the benchmark 16ft sea kayak even today. In fact the Shore Line could conceivably be regarded as the inspiration and motivation behind many kayaks including Valley’s Avocet and the shorter P&H Capella’s. For those who weren’t around in 1980’s British sea kayak circles it is hard to appreciate how influential this small company was, they were certainly the most innovative company of that decade. Anyway word has it there is a new injection of capital and new distribution deals that should see the North Shore name re-established on the world stage and yes the Shore Line is still a corner-stone to their range

The companies who have most to be fearfull from a North Shore resurgence are NDK due to their, on going, quality and distribution issues and P&H because of their well publicised shift of focus towards the mid-market. Anyway, never has the British sea kayak market been more exciting!!!

Cetus and North Shore
A local dealer had a chance to try the Cetus - will try and find the links to their comments. As I recall they thought the boat seemed fairly fast, probably not comfy feeling to a beginner though they thought that I’d not notice anything untoward. I should mention that in the same comment they said that I could probably balance on a 2 by 4 - an overstatement of my actual abilities but a reasonable simile of where they thought the Cetus fit.

Interesting if North Shore comes back hard. While an older style now, their North Shore boat (that is pretty much now the Impex Montauk) was quite a strike for the new when it came out. They’ve had a history of doing interesting things that could push the envelope, and their quality seemed decent for the brief window of time that I was seeing their boats in shops like Maine Sport.

North Shore renaissance
It would be nice. I’d noticed they have been redoing their decks to accommondate Valley hatches.

The North Shore Mariner still gets respect (one paddler brought his to the Downeast Symposium.)

If North Shore decides to export to NA, it will be interesting to see how it plays out with Impex, as a number of Impex hulls are North Shore hulls.

In any case the Romany and Avocet are well established in the North American market. If indeed a Shoreline hull is the same as the Montauk hull, NDK and Valley have nothing to fear :wink:


Link to review
Here is the llink to the review Celia mentioned.

not a very independent revIew
Isn’t Ben Lawry a P&H rep, if so, its hard to give much weight to the review. Possibly to much vested interest!

not a very independent revIew
Isn’t Ben Lawry a P&H rep, if so, its hard to give much weight to the review. Possibly to much vested interest!

Not that review, I think
The guy who I heard from is a local dealer in upstate NY who has a strong base of customers who tend to prefer canoes and the older Swift designs, probably by count more than those who will go for a P&H boat. So he tends to be a bit more skeptical than many - only a limited portion of his base will go for a boat like this.

Looked last night and can’t find that email. Sorry all - should have hung onto it.

Paddled the Cetus recently on flatwater (CT River). Fairly fast, comfy primary stability wise, predictable secondary. Turns surprisingly well for a long boat. Felt that I was able to top out it’s top end speed a bit earlier than I expected. The kayak is not a slouch on it’s accelleration just that I’ve gotten used to paddling the Impex Force Series.

Outfitting wise, can’t say too much as the boat was a prototype and that should be kept in mind as I haven’t had a final version on the showroom floor yet. In addition to the P & H three hatch arrangement they’ve added a fourth hatch in front of the cockpit coaming which leads into a padded front deck compartment. Extremely handy as you don’t have to reach around in back. The under deck arrangement of this was well thought out as to allow unimpeded in/out of your feet entering and exiting. Sea Dog footpegs were in the prototype so I’m not sure what was in the plans for the production model.

The Cetus will be an very capable expedition kayak that will carry well over distance, still be nimble enough that can still enjoy playing on-water dodgeball and have lots of creature comfort features allowing event the most heavilly gadget laden paddlers amongst us to have a hatch for everything.

See you on the water,


The review I was referring to was the #6 post in the thread by Alex_L.