For a free urban celebration of canoeing and kayaking with a token registration fee for on-water courses, demonstrations - and back at the beach seminars, the third annual Victoria Paddlefest hosted by MEC looked to be another success.
Being a three-decade Valley Canoe Products paddler myself I was pleasantly surprised to see the newer named, Valley Sea Kayaks well represented at Gyro Park now that Ocean River Sports in Victoria carries the Valley brand. Furthermore, Rob Avery was present with some extra Valley kayaks, including Sean Morely’s Nordkapp he’d used for the Vancouver Island Circumnavigation, as well as the nicely updated Valley Anas Acuta that all testers agreed was the most fun kayak of the bunch. It would have been nice if there was the 18’ Valley Q-boat there too.
I was able to test paddle the Nordkapp LV at my new weight of 215 pounds. I’d tried it previously at 170 pounds when the Tidrace kayaks were given a spin out at Trial Island. Both Gordin and I had agreed it was a fine sea kayak though it retained that classic Nordkapp tenderness you either love or hate. I was just able to squeeze into the cockpit and put it through a few manoeuvres. There was a bit of wind and the LV weather cocked far less than the classic Nordy, but it benefited by use of the skeg early. Other kayaks I know take longer before the benefit is essential.
What I did find invaluable this year was the opportunity to discuss kayaks with the very knowledgeable Rob Avery, who is the new Valley sales rep for the west coast region. Sean Morely has moved on to represent P&H and Pyranna kayaks. Rob, based out of Bainbridge, Washington kayakcraft is a BCU Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach and ACA Open Water Instructor. He’s an unassuming fellow, all around grand chap, and now deep in the Valley.
With the Nordkapp LV on my short list, there were some questions I was seeking answers to. There has been a fair bit of feedback from paddlers all over that the new LV unfortunately retained the high back deck. The answer I was given? Lay back rolls are dangerous you know. The kayak was designed as an easier to control unladen version of its bigger brother, the full sized Nordkapp, for smaller paddlers or paddlers looking for performance without the payload. There are no plans to address this rear cockpit height issue as far as Rob knew.
Second point: is there any discussion at Valley regarding front day lockers, such as found on the Rockpools and the new P&H Cetus? No. Is there a possibility to custom order an LV cut down (the seam line is lowered before joining the hull to deck yielding an even lower volume kayak). Given the curves near the seam line it would be highly unlikely.
I asked Rob about some of the rumours about quality control issues at Valley again. He wasn’t aware of any but did admit one boat shop on mainland BC had an out-of-proportion number of skeg issues than anywhere else, which seemed an odd anomaly to him.
Rob did agree that the choice to go with a round bilge hull with its responsiveness to hip movement versus a soft chine hull with better feedback for carving was an intensely personal preference. Furthermore, the Nordkapp series are kayaks you grow with for many years but are kayaks that have years of rewarding performance. Certainly the Nordkapp LV does provide good manoeuvrability though its static stability at rest remains low.
There was a paddler present with his Tiderace Xcite. Like the SKUK kayaks, it was heavy and well built – really stiff, strong, and durable. The owner loved the cockpit ergonomics, seat, knee position and height/angle of the front cockpit. He said if he could get his Nordkapp LV with the same deck, cockpit and seat as his Tidrace, he’d be in the Valley way more.
Victoria Kayak thanks Doug Lloyd for his insights and welcomes accounts from other readers. If you want to share your thoughts click on the comment button at the end of any story. Thanks