For the past few years I have been using Immersion Research decks for both playboating and creek duties.
Now I have have said this before but will say it again – for most of my paddling career (28yrs+) I have used Playboater decks and it has only been Immersion Research who have been able to tempt me away from the brand. At present I own a couple of IR skirts. The first is a rand based (more on that later) skirt the Special K and the bungee based Klingon Empire. The latter has been my go to deck for over a year – I love it!
Common sense would dictate that making expensive skirts for serious whitewater kayakers makes no sense at all. It takes years of trial and error, sourcing, and prototyping- all for a small sport with an even smaller amount of elite paddlers, and the demands put on these skirts borders on the absurd. But you know what? We don’t care. In fact, we love it. Whitewater is our passion, and from this comes our desire to make simply the best class V spray skirt ever made: the Royale. Big water chargers- this one’s for you.
The work that went into this skirt is hidden by it’s simplicity, but its performance will amaze. The foundation of the Royale is our proprietary ”fin” shaped rand designed to make maximum contact with the rim and resisting implosion to the very end. In addition to the rand shape, we also place two sticky rubber patches under the deck on the sides to provide additional implosion resistance. We also extended the deck neoprene 2″ past the rand (like on the Klingon) to offer unsurpassed dryness on a variety of rim shapes. In the high wear areas we use the most expensive and strongest 4-way stretch kevlar we could find, and all of the seams are glued, taped and stitched. We also have studied dozens and dozens of the most popular rims to dial in a fit that will accomodate a very wide range of boats.
Does every paddler need an expensive sprayskirt designed to survive the stoutest of drops? No, of course not. But for those of you who do, we think you’ll find the Royale to be an essential piece of paddling gear.
All in all I have been very impressed with the Royale. As expected it is harder to get on to a boat than the bungee based Klingon Empire but not overly so.
It is incredibly dry. The seal even around shallow cockpits is extremely good. The deck has been mainly used on my Dagger Jitsu and Wavesport Recon and I have experienced zero water getting into my boats, which I find utterly astounding.
The Royale will be seeing more water time over the next few months and I’ll report back again on how it is performing/holding up.