Saturday, December 18, 2010

Maelstrom Sea Kayaks, About the chines from the maker

I was looking for a little more information about the chines on the Malestrom Vaag 174 and the Malestrom Vital 166.

I own a Vital.

I was seeing different descriptions on the Web from a variety of sources about the chines of the Maelstrom sea kayaks, so I contacted the maker, Maelströmkayak, and got a nice response from Charles-Alexandre Desjardins, President.

If you're interested to know more about the Maelstrom Vital 166 and Vaag 174's design, here it is from the source:

"The Vitäl's chines are on the hard side. I personally say it's semi-hard chines. It's not a pure hard chine like the Nigel Foster's Legend for example, where you see the sharp angle between the hull of the kayak and its side. On the the opposite of the hard chine, there is the soft chine, where the transition is very gradual, no sharp angle, like the P & H Capella.

The Vitäl 166 and the Vaag 174 have semi-hard chines. It's not a sharp angle but it's way more sharp than a soft chine. It gives you the support of a hard chine but on a larger range of tilting angles. It also makes carving more crisp, which can be really nice in the surf for example. And the primary stability is really good with the Vitäl's hull design.

The Vitäl is more trimmed for surfing with the factory placement of the seat. You can put it more forward for more maneuverability on calm waters. Feel free to explore different trimmings to best suit your paddling style."

Thank you so much for the response Maelstrom!

Are you confused about hull design and chines?

I'll admit that I needed to do a little research. Especially when you own a Maelstrom Vital 166 and an outside source of merit says that the boats have hard chines, another website says the boats have soft chines, and yet another website selling the boats say they have medium-chines. I was a little confused. So I was happy to have a response from the designers of the Maelstrom sea kayaks.

The reason I started to really think about the chines on my new Maelstrom Vital 166 was when I first tried to cowboy scramble up its back deck last summer while practicing self-rescue techniques. It felt quite different from my Boreal Baffin, which has a different hull design.

The Baffin has two nice set edges that you can easily feel and lean on securely without much effort. Both for edging, and I'm guessing now that these edges can also be helpful to you when you scramble up its back deck from the water. They seem to provide some support. And the Baffin is a little wider at the beam at 22 1/4 inches, while the Maelstrom Vital is a little narrower at the beam at 21 inches. My, what a difference design and an inch or two can make!

I had the cowboy scramble so down on my Baffin. I'd found it's sweet spot over the rear hatch, and from the water could scramble up the back deck and get back into the cockpit unassisted in a few seconds. It became so automatic knowing how to get back into it quickly. I practiced it each time I paddled in warmer temps. I actually find it fun and good sport. I forgot all about the paddle float thing. I didn't need it anymore. That was the goal. It's so much easier and quicker to get into your boat without having to fiddle with a paddle float!

And if you can roll, even better. But I'm not quite there yet, I'm slowly crawling along on that score and just starting to learn a half roll. So I really have to get the re-entry from the water thing down.

I just assumed the cowboy scramble would be the same ease with the Vital 166. Well, not at first, I hung out in the water a bit at the Vital's beautiful side after a few failed attempts and had to float around and think about it before I figured it out. A few canoes paddled over and asked me if I needed help. "No, but thanks for the offer," I replied. "I'm going to figure this out." And I did. So here's my advice on doing the Cowboy Scramble in your Maelstrom Vital 166 - FIND IT'S SWEET SPOT!

As you paddle with different boats in different conditions, you start to notice and care more and more about the details of your boat's design. And it starts to become more interesting because you can feel the difference design makes.

2012 Update: Maelstromkayak and Boreal Design are no longer manufacturing and distributing the Vital 166 or Vaag 174 sea kayaks. Boreal Design declared bankruptcy in 2012. The company was sold to another manufacturer along with the Vital and Vaag designs, which are no longer manufactured in Quebec or in Canada. Maelstromkayak has two new high-performance kayak models with new design features: the Forvag and Flod.

Happy paddling and learning more about your boat's design.
The BaffinPaddler

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