Over the last few months we have seen a number of images on Instagram showing some really trick conversion kits that allow a K1 to be converted to a C1 without the need for lots of cutting/sticking of foam. We reached out to Paul Harwood at UK firm C1 Kayak Conversions to find out a little more about what they are doing.
U: Could you tell us a little bit about how this all started.
C1KC: Many years ago, I kayaked and I canoed, but I wanted to playboat. My long legs wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t fit into little boats. I loved to canoe, so decided that if I paddled C1, then I could fit into a playboat as I would be kneeling. Trouble was that there were no C1 kits available. You had to make your own out of bits of foam, wood, fence posts or any bits you could make work. There were a few old ones from Dagger, but these were no longer available. Drakkar had the Wheelboy C1 playboat with a fibreglass and Kevlar saddle. I bought one of these boats and my life was transformed. Kneeling is so comfortable. Rolling is totally different, but you haven’t got that extra blade getting in the way. Your reach is huge; it’s the best thing ever. I have never kayaked since. I wanted a saddle like this to go into any boat. There weren’t any, so I had to design one. I wanted a seat system that looked like it was meant to be there, like it was a factory fit. I wanted colour choice. I wanted to have a solid base to make my C1 saddle a must-have for any canoeist. I wanted strength and lightness. I wanted it to fit in any kayak.
U: Are these easy to install?
C1KC: I have designed a fibreglass saddle system that fits easily into almost any boat. The saddle will fit into a kayak whether it has a foam centre pillar or a solid plastic pillar. It can come as a full kit with everything you need to convert your kayak. You need to supply the glue, a 5mm drill bit, Allen keys and an adjustable spanner.
I have put a few How to Videos on YouTube which will help you choose how to fit it in your kayak. I have fitted one into a Dagger GTS with absolutely no bolts into the side of the hull. This could be important for some paddlers who are worried about holes in their boat. It worked really well too. Or you can go full strength and fit everything.
The C1 Saddle has been fitted into small playboats such as Dagger G-Force 5.9, (they don’t come much smaller than this), to Creek Boats such as the Dagger Mamba with a solid plastic pillar. I use an old Pyranha I4 most of the time and everyone who tries it is impressed with the system.
U: The systems we’ve seen in the past have always been made from various bits and bobs that were never really designed for the job. How do you make sure your C1 Thigh Straps have ease of adjustment and have the safety aspect covered?
C1KC: C1 thigh straps have always been hard to source. Again, there is nothing on the market that fits successfully in a C1 Conversion. I have made straps using divers’ buckles, snowboard bindings, aeroplane seatbelts and chest harnesses in the past. The results have always been the same. They rust, they seize up, they fail.
There has been no single do-all solution, until now.
I have developed a set of lower and upper thigh straps to go with the C1 Saddle that are fully adjustable, easy to get in and out of, and have the all-important quick release. The straps are easily adjustable for winter and summer clothing, or for someone else to have a go. In the event of a wet exit, it is important to get out of your boat quickly and easily. There is a quick release cam buckle, similar to a chest harness, which releases smoothly when pulled. There is also a separate buckle on each leg for ease of entry and exit when launching and dismounting.
It is important to practice a wet exit with your C1. There are two things to release in C1 – your spraydeck, and your legs. It’s good to be familiar everything that you fit and know how it works.
U: How is easy is it to get one?
C1KC: All the saddles are custom made in any colour you want. There are 18 colours to choose from, so matching or contrasting your boat is easy. Personally, I like to match.
Once an order has been placed it normally takes around a week to manufacture and dispatch. I have sent C1 Saddles and C1 accessories all over the world. The saddle systems are quite large when packaged, so I currently send them to the UK, all of Europe, the USA and Canada.