Sunday, April 26, 2009

Customizing the kayak cockpit - "creative with foam"

* Ellen: "En wat is het basismateriaal van vandaag?"
* Peter: "Het basismateraal van vandaag is kurk."
* Ellen: "Waar moet je op letten?"
* Peter: "Altijd van je af snijden!"
Arjan Ederveen, Tosca Nitterink, "Creatief met Kurk" - 1993.

(Sorry for this typical example of Dutch humor ;-). For playing in rough water and for rolling, a seakayak should fit like a glove. My Valley Anas Acuta-kayak does this since the first time I slid into it. The previous owner glued a few foam blocks on exactly the right strategic points in the cockpit. In my second seakayak (the Valley-Pintail) I have been experimenting with foam some years ago, but I was never really satisfied with the result. My approach was different: instead of creating kneegrips and thigh-support, I lowered the inside of the front deck (inspired by the low masik of greenland-kayaks), raised the seating position 2 cm's (to facilitate easy laying on the backdeck) and narrowed the seat on both sides 2 cm's). The result is a very close fit, which works fine for all kind of rolling tricks (despite raising the center of gravity, the better contact and lay-back-possibilities compensate), but which is not very comfortable on long distances (and as a matter of fact even hinders an effective correct forward paddling style). And that's stupid, as the Pintail is the kayak I prefer to use for longer multiple day trips/expeditions (because the Pintail offers more storage space than the Anas Acuta and is also more solid built).
This weekend I copied the lay-out of the foam blocks in the Anas Acuta to the Pintail. The picture shows the result of an afternoon working on cutting and glueing foam. The pintail still doesn't offer the same glove-like fit of the Anas Acuta, but for forward paddling it's a huge improvement. And I love the new kneegrips! It's much easier now to set the kayak on one edge and to maintain this edge over a long distance.

The new foam blocks were a welcome excuse for a test-paddle around Woerden. It's spring in the polder: an outburst of bird-life: de grutto (Godwit), de kievit (Lapwing), de reiger (Heron) and all kinds of ducks, geese and swans breeding...
Back at the pier of Kv Wyrda - I met a group of paddlers from the kayakclub Utrecht, who also made a paddle around Woerden. The Reed Tuiliq is always good for comments, but this was the first time some-one called me "pastoral worker". I suppose I should shave my legs next time I wear the Tuiliq over shorts...


René said...

Hi Hans

Did you do this customizing before or after the speed evaluation you mentioned on my blog a few days ago?

I guess you'r right: with more room for your knees you can make better use of your legs for better support of your strokes thus increasing forward paddling.

It's a good thing you also promote the glove-like fitting. Paddlers can have much more fun in a customized kayak.

Keep going.

Anonymous said...


What glue did you use (or recommend) to do the customising?


Hans Heupink said...

Hi Anonymous!
Finding the right glue is a quit a quest. Professionals did advise me Sikaflex 291. Rather expensive and after a year of intensive use in salt-water the foam blocks loosened. I had better results with Bison-tix Gel-glue. This is a simple standard product that is available in every DIY-shop in the Netherlands.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hans,

Thanks for your reply, couldn't find that down here in NZ. But have found Ados f2 contact adhesive, which seems to be recommended.

Cheers...Scott (aka Anonymous!!)