I recently had a chance to paddle the Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC kayak that is made here in the US. It is being manufactured by Eddyline in Carbonlite material. I have almost no experience with the Carbonlite material so I will not get into much detail on Carbonlite.
First off I will start with saying the kayaks are beautiful. Great lines and the Carbonlite finish is smooth and flawless. The interior looked liked the kayaks are put together with care and for a little flare there are sea star shapes pressed into the bulkheads.
I am roughly 5'9 and 195 pounds, I thought the kayak had a great fit. It is a bit more narrow than my NDK Explorer and has more of a snug fit and a slight different knee orientation than I get in my NDK Explorer. I worried at first that I would not be comfortable sitting in the kayak for a long time, but after a decent paddle I did not notice any discomfort. Make sure you check the seat if you are going to take on for a demo. The seat has thumb screws forward and aft of the seat. The seat is designed to slide forward and back. Once I found the right place for the seat I was comfy and ready to get on the water.
My first paddle was short. I basically got off work and ran to the water to hopped in. I played around in flat water with different stokes, braces and some rolls. Overall I found the kayak very maneuverable and stable on edge. Moving forward through the water is nice and easy. When brought up to speed it cruises at a good clip. The Alwa Bach TCC tracked nice and straight. When using draw strokes the kayak responds quickly and smoothly. It also seemed to be a good rolling kayak. The back deck was nice and low so you can really lay back on the deck. I was a bit interested in how easy I would exit the kayak if I needed to. The cockpit is long and narrow with very little room between the thigh braces. But I found with a bit of a wiggle a came out clean and in control of the kayak. Cowboy/Cowgirl rescues were not a problem.
Day two I took the kayak out in a windy and choppy condition. With a nice strong breeze and a decent tidal exchange the water was nice and choppy off the points of the island. I headed out to an area where the sea was mildly confused with wave refracting off the rocky shore into on coming waves. The Alaw Bach TCC was solid. I felt very stable heading downwind. The kayak was nice and easy to turn around in the chop to head back into the waves. It was pretty fun crashing through the waves. I had the most fun paddling along the shore with waves rushing up along he rocks and simply drawing up and down the waves as I paddled the shoreline. The Alaw Bach TCC really handled well and responds so nice to the hanging draw.
After messing around the shoreline I set up to try and catch a few wind waves to see how the kayak would handle when catching a small wave. It was a different experience than my NDK Explorer but after a few rounds I started to trust what I was feeling. The one thing I noticed is how straight the kayak would travel on plane. It really seemed to resit broaching.
When I headed out in the wind I was prepared to the kayak to be a weather cocking machine. But to my surprise it held course without issue. With the up swept bow I just assumed I was going to have to fight it the whole time or use the skeg. I ended up not doing either.
All hatches were super dry. They were easy to put on and just a bit of a struggle to get off. Which is fine with me. But I was happy to see how dry the hatches were after playing in the waves and playing upside down.
So what do I think about the Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC??? I have to say I was sad to give it back and I think that I may end up with another kayak soon.
How do I feel about Carbonlite??? Well like I said I really do not know that much about it. But it seemed really durable and I did not notice any more flex in the full when loading it than I do with some of the glass kayaks I own. The finish is far better than that of standard plastics and it is more ridged. I think I would prefer to have a fiberglass model. But if you look at what they are trying to do with the design, then Carbonlite makes sense.
The idea is to produce an amazing hull that is a performer. But do that at a cost that is reasonable. There are a lot of great kayaks out there from NDK, Valley, P&H, TideRace etc... But you will easily spend 3500 bucks or more. The Alaw Bach TCC is retailing at 2999. For those really looking to get a great kayak that is truly a performance machine at a great price, then check out the Alaw Bach TCC.
I will get some link up soon....
Discovery Sea Kayaks