Friday, 15 October 2010

The Wobble Factor

Another paddle last night and it's been a bit of a make or break time with the sudden drop in air temperature meaning that the prospect of either Adam or I capsizing could prove very uncomfortable. It was also important for Ad to start feeling that things were improving and he was getting to grips with his K1. I felt it was important that we tried to take the difficult he had with steering out of the equation so that he would just be concentrating only on stability and stroke technique and the best way to do that was for him to stop paddling if he was straying off course and stern rudder the boat back into line, then start again.

We got to the boathouse to find the K1 I normally use unserviceable, so I decided to take out a Marsport Hobby and we had a good look at the control wires and found the nut holding the main pulley loose which was causing the rudder to slip; almost definitely not helping Ad's steering issues. We put in at Sunbury and as I edged the hobby out as I waited for Ad to follow me in.

"Ooh, this is a bit more ti...."

The rest of the word 'tippy' was said underwater as I over-corrected a wobble and was plunged into the water. Thankfully it was not too cold but as usual I started shivering pretty much straight away. :-( I didn't want to hang about so got back in (watched by another 2 bored fishermen) and bashed quickly up to Sunbury to portage into the cut. The boat was considerably more responsive than the expedition that I had been using and rolled a lot more easily so I had to really concentrate on my stroke ensuring that I was pressing firmly on the footbar. It felt faster but I had to hold back to ensure that I didn't take another swim. Ad was looking a lot more comfortable and before long we were ploughing up and down the cut, not doing intervals but just really concentrating on a high straight lead arm and good entry and paddle exit. After an hour I was getting cold as I was still ringing wet and I followed Ad back home. He had cracked the steering completely; it seemed that a lot of the problems he had been having was this loose nut on the rudder assembly. I think we can say that he's well and truly cracked this paddling malarkey.

When I went home I googled the Hobby K1 to find out what its wobble factor was. Racing kayaks are given a wobble factor to ascertain how easy they are to keep upright. Generally, the thinner, faster hulls are more unstable (wobble factor 1; like trying to balance on a wire) while at the other end of the scale is wobble factor 10 (like the Discovery we did the DW in; only a direct hit from a battle cruiser's going to turn that thing over). Most of the popular DW boats, like the Condor, Toucan and mystere etc are in the range 5 to 8 in order that the crews can have a stable boat in the sometimes tricky conditions that are encountered. There is little point in having a 'fast' boat if it is virtually impossible for the crew to stay the right way up so there is a balance (pun intended) between stability and speed. Anyway, I was expecting a wobble factor of 5 or 6 for the Hobby only to find, rather disconcertingly that it was an 8! Nay bother, it was really good for me to have to concentrate a bit more and it will help me smooth out the bumps.

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