I was lucky enough to get hold of a medium Machno for a demo not long after it came out. I was hopeful that maybe I could get away with a medium as it looked awesome and I really wanted to paddle one. I paddled it and enjoyed it, it was fun but I knew (although I tried to ignore the fact) that it was too big for me, (I’m 5’5″ and 58kg). So the waiting for the small to be ready began.
I had planned a demo day through work and was hopeful that a small Machno would be ready to make an appearance for this and it did not disappoint!
I got my first go in it on the Tay at Grandtully, all be it rather low levels at the time. I was so excited to paddle it that I didn’t really spend any time getting it fitted to me, moved the footplate and just got in. This was a mistake but was easily and quickly fixed. I did one run as it was before going back and spending a bit of time (only really 5 minutes) adding some seat height shims under the seat pad and some extra shims in the hip pads. This made a huge difference, I then was connected to the boat and back in control for my next few runs.
Then the big decision came into it, I was given the opportunity to take the Machno with me on our planned trip to Slovenia that was fast approaching. Decisions to be made. I was already struggling as to weather to take my trusty loved Burn III or to chance it with the Axiom. Had some thinking time (with a paddle around the Tees Barrage to aid my decision) and decided to take the Machno.
6 days of paddling the Machno definitely gave me the time to see what I thought of the boat.
1st of all picking up the Machno and carrying it to the river I noticed quite quickly that although its bigger its actually more comfortable to carry than the burn as it sits better on my shoulder (the new Stout 2 thigh grips may now make the burn easier to carry too but I’ve not tried). Finding it easier to carry was a big thing for me as, however much I love my Burn to paddle I hate carrying it as it’s very uncomfortable and bruises my shoulder.
Outfitting wise I added 3 height shims under the seat pad to lift me up to where I felt comfortable in the boat and also added a load of shims to the new bigger comfier Stout 2 hip pads until I felt connected to the boat. I paddled the 1st day without the addition of the hooker plates to the thigh grips which was great but then added the Hooker plates the next evening which finished the set up for me in the boat and left me feeling that the boat was actually an extension of my lower body/legs and should not be removed. Awesome! I recommend the hooker plates to get maximum connectivity with the boat however if you’re nervous of getting stuck/feeling trapped in a boat they’re probably not for you.
Then on to actually padding the Machno! Although I was a little unsure at 1st because it felt so different to what I’m used to this sharp changed to me loving the boat and not wanting to get out of it! It’s comfortable to stay in for a long amount of time, super quick on the water when you want it to be, boofs like a boss and is manoeuvrable enough to surf and play if you want to too.
My 1st proper experience of the Machno on a decent amount of water was the 1st drop after just getting on the Soca at Otona. I was a bit nervous as I felt I’d barely paddled the boat and wasn’t sure how it would feel but I decided to run the drop anyway and I’m so glad I did, the boat just felt right. I did then let my guard down and capsize in the next rapid but this led to a quick and easy roll with a well needed cool down anyway. The Machno rolls really easy and super smooth, another little worry in my head with an unfamiliar boat eliminated instantly. This was the start of what would be an awesome paddling week with an awesome boat!
I paddled every day in the Machno and every day I felt more and more at one with it. Boofing over things for the fun of it just because I could, seal launching, rock splating and paddling away with a massive smile on my face. Once I got used to it, which didn’t take long at all, I had the confidence to run everything we came up to (excluding Syphon canyon which none of us ran). I quickly was coming to realise that another boat may be trying to kick my burn out my house! I love my burn so the fact that the Machno now has me thinking I should change my boat definitely says something about how good the Machno is!
I really enjoyed paddling the Machno and was super sad when I had to hand it over to it’s new owner at the end of the week. I feel that the Machno Small is well sized for the smaller and lighter paddler, It’s light in comparison to other creekers of its size too which I know will also appeal to other people as it can’t just be me that is put off by an uncomfortable to carry/heavy boat. The Machno performs awesomely on the water and with a little bit of outfitting time added can be made to fit perfectly for a super comfy fun boat to paddle.
I think now may be the time for my Burn to move out and a Machno S to move in!
Words and Pictures: Ronnie Edwards