Darren Clarkson-King is a huge fan of old school kayak designs and owns many of the classics. He gives us his take on Old Is The New New.
Should you buy new or used, will you enjoy your paddling more in the latest boat?
We all love the smell and feel of a fresh new boat – the latest design, latest color to match our PFD. We may tell ourselves that our skill base will increase with the latest design. Whilst this may be a half truth it is not the whole truth. Some of the worlds hardest runs were pioneered many years ago, at the evolution from composite to plastic. Sure you have all seen Stikine footage of Dancers, Eclipse or Overflows. Or the Indus footage in Stunt and Roto bats. What about the Tsangpo in H2 or classic Cali runs in the Diablo. Lets not forget the steep runs of Europe in the mighty Topo. You can still find these styles of boat on ebay, gumtree etc for less than a night out.
Why spend £1000 on a boat you are going to want to upgrade soon anyhow, or worse break and landfill, taking 500+ years to decompose. An older design will do he same job for a good part of your paddling than a latest design. It’s good to see some of the classic making a come back, on weekends around the UK, on longer multi day trips across the globe and on late night ebay shopping the rise of older boats is plain to see.
My Eskimo Topo is the original and best mark 1 version built by Prijon for Eskimo. As everyone knows topos are the best ever boat if you particularly feel like bouncing down a gorge with very little water because they are hard as nails.
Performance wise it is reasonably fast in a straight line but does not turn as fast as a playboat because it has greater length in the water.
At this stage of the trip everything was, more or less, going well. We had ticked off around half of the runs in the Napo valley and by now we had established a good group to go kayaking. A key member of our group was a guy called Armin Neuer. Armin as well as being a good kayaker, speaks good English and Spanish, really helpful in language stalemates! A special thanks to him for taking some amazing photos and for letting us use his laptop to unload our footage onto. A really helpful guy!
That night (04-01-12) it rained really hard, the next day forcing the rafting and kayak guiding companies to change plans and for us to hit the upper Misahualli. This run goes at a relatively low water level and is creeky in nature. However when it rains it becomes one big volume, steep, continuous rapid and doesn´t really let up for 8km. This run had me pushed quite hard, avoiding big holes whilst still trying to boof the boulders that were out the water was exhausting, with for most of the time little room for era. I have never paddled a river like this, it was simply a big volume creek, but an awesome run! Continue reading