Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SKUK (NDK) Pilgrim - an impression

The Pilgrim is designed by SKUK (Nigel Dennis kayaks) with the smaller or slimmer paddler in mind. Viewed from a distance the kayak looks like a shrunken Romany or Explorer. It shares much of the characteristics of these larger brothers in the SKUK kayak-range. The hull shape, the shape of the deck, the lay-out of the decklines, the key-hole cockpit, the sloping bulkhead, the position of the skeg-control – it’s all familiar, just quite a lot smaller: the Pilgrim 480 cm long, 50 cm wide and has a total volume of 250 l (especially this last figure is very low, compared to a standard seakayak).

Lieke is a slender teenage-girl (ca. 1.70 m long, weight below 50 kg). She is rather sporty, has a good endurance, but she is not very strong and she hasn’t got a lot of seakayak-experience either. She paddles occasionally with her father, but not very often: kids need time for their own hobbies, sports, friends (and school ;-).

To be short: Lieke managed exceptionally well to control the Pilgrim. She could easily turn the kayak around in a few paddle strokes. She also had no problem to hold it on a course, even without deploying the skeg. Mostly we paddled in calm conditions, but occasionally the wind increased and we paddled in winds up to 5 Bft, in waves of 2-3 feet high and even met some clapotis on the headlands of the rocky Costa Brava shoreline. In all conditions Lieke was comfortable in the kayak. The more lively the water got, the more fun she had with it. For one part this will be due to the “unlimited confidence” of a daughter in her father, but I think for the bigger part this is a compliment for the designers of the Pilgrim. Lieke was paddling with the kayak, not the kayak with her. The team of Nigel Dennis has done a successful job in creating an expedition-ready kayak for the smaller paddler!

About the speed of the kayak: Lieke herself was sometimes a bit disappointed that she couldn’t paddle as fast as her father did. But that’s not a fair comparison: I am (older), larger, stronger, more experienced and trained in paddling - and I was paddling a kayak with defintely a longer waterline. Lieke paddled a decent pace and covered (untrained) easily distances up to 20 km a day. I think this says enough about the glide of the kayak.

The yellow Pilgrim test-kayak is a standard SKUK dioleen copy. This stands for a straightforward layout, solid and rugged. It was no problem to carry the Pilgrim on the shoulder – compared to my own kayaks this is a light kayak. Of course that will be more due to its size than because of the layup. All the hatches stayed bone-dry and the skeg functioned flawless.

In the Netherlands SKUK kayaks are distributed by (Axel and Nico).

No comments: