Paddle4Play: June 2014

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Mamba 8.6 vs Burn 3 XL on the test

Over the past week I've really had a great opportunity to put together two of the biggest selling boats the Dagger Mamba 8.6 and the Burn 3 XL.
On paper the sizes are more or less identical but on the water theirs some really nice differences.
Length Width Weight Volume
Burn 3 XL 260cm 69.5cm 22.3kg 338ltrs
Mamba 8.6 259cm 70cm 23kg 337ltrs

First up the seating the dagger contour seat really set the standard on boat outfitting. With its easy adjustment and leg lifters it really is difficult how the burns new Connect 14 can get close.
burn seat
But once seated the Burns seat (which I have a strange feeling has been the P&H seat for a while now) has a really nice feel to it, it just curves up at the rear to take much of the support off of your backrest and channelling it through the rear of the seat. The functionality of the burn seat allows it full motion if you spend a bit of time on day 1 setting your boat up it will reward you. You cant dance in shoes too big, its the same with your boat.
Burns First look
My favourite option on the connect 14 seat was to unbolt it completely before redrilling new holes right where I wanted them meaning I could lift the seat keeping it level instead of the tipped up feeling from just lifting the front.
Its a well known fact the mamba isn't the lightest beast you see the airport staff run for cover when mine rolls through the door so knocking down from 27kg to 23kgs is a nice difference for carrying from Mamba to Burn.
On the water I suppose is what tells the story. The burns sharp rails have always let the burn play, surfing waves like no other creeker. Then carving across the flow and hitting eddies with precision and perfection where it used to trip up was with sideways cushions and curlers the nose used to get pushed around a lot making it tougher to carry its speed. The new burn has a much more pronounced rail right up to the nose this lets the burn really grip and hold its line, and importantly carry its speed in the process.
I used the XL Burn as my race boat for the marathon course at King of the alps for this reason. The lighter boat and better tracking just felt good really quick and meaningful.

The Mamba with more bow rocker and slightly rounder hull makes it much more manoeuvrable having paddled the mamba a lot over the past year I've found it predictable and safe I know and understand what its going to do and on the steeper race course I could really trust it to ride through with its bow held high.

I've found personally the mamba loves to be on its rail. I probably paddle with the boat over on one side or the other more than I do with the hull flat. With the boat heeled over the nose just wants to lift and drive with the burn I had to put in a bit of work to get it up on its rail then keep it without tripping but with the nose rail the burn paddles well whilst flat.

I pushed the Burn down a high volume Vent and Oetz in probably the highest level id paddled those sections and the big curlers and  breaking waves were no match for the burn punching everything with ease and staying on line. I suppose I couldn't fault it but having to work all the time to load a rail to ride a wave I just felt the Shiva or the mamba would be better suited to this style of paddling.

Hands down if you want to cruise a river with style and perfection the burn is your baby  if if you want to launch the drops and huck it probably look at the Shiva and if your in for a safe secure predictable ride give the mamba a go.

I'm lucky to have paddled all three on various rivers from class 3-5 and found them all to work in their own way.
If in doubt.... demo! I cant tell you what will work best for your local spot but think of what your paddling 90% of the time and not what your going to be at once a year. Whatever your choice outfit it and get out and enjoy it!

Check out the Burn 3 @ Great Outdoors Watersports
Check out the Dagger Mamba @ Great Outdoors Watersports

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Kit List 2014

So as most people are aware I have at my disposal just about any kit I want, This is obviously for many a lucky position to be in but at the end of the day the reason I have the Kit is because I need to sell it, (sometimes I have to actually make money) So its important I trust the equipment I sell. If I wouldn't use it I wont sell it theirs a simple philosophy, Every item in store I would personally use and trust it to fit a customer for its purpose.
I am currently paddling everyday in a variety of different boats but looking forward for this season I'm heading away to King of the Alps in Italy this weekend and come to the stage of sorting out what am I going to take,
So here's a rundown of some of my favourite pieces of kit this year and what I'm taking with me to Italy.
Starting from the top, Helmet, This season I'm back in Sweet Protection lids, My preferred choice is my Strutter with a funky green/black paint job but for when things get steep I've got the Rocker and when things get serious (Or Twat are out rafting) I've got the Rocker full face,

Sweet protection make the best helmets period. I don't thing theirs too many arguments here, they are comfy, solid and take the impact saving your head. Personally I love the strutter as I feel it gives me the most freedom and field of view. Throw on a nose clip and custom Walshy Way ear plugs and were ready to roll.
Next up shell wear, Last year I used my Spark suit pretty much the whole year, I loved the suit so much I sold it and got another, Its an ideal suit, soft and light, very breathable and maintenance free. Did I mention the colour Lime green goes with everything!

So this year I'm at a conundrum The nice guys and girls at Palm Equipment HQ kindly built me a lovely Fuse CagDeck, Taking the popular Fuse jacket, and the solid Impact deck and combining the two for low bulk and freedom of movement, I also got them to add a latex neck for those cold days on the water and the result is absolutely amazing, probably me favourite piece of kit this year!

But for the rivers I'm torn between my spark suit and my other fuse jacket combined with Ion Bibs. Honestly I'm so torn because of the colour options, both pieces of kit will work amazingly but the Sherbet and aqua Fuse jacket goes perfectly with my New FXR.
The FXr is an amazing river vest taken from the FX PFD with a upgrade, Condura outer, guide belt and did I mention the colour, Sherbet again this season is going to be bright! 
The increased buoyancy of the FXr and the huge pocket makes the vest suitable for extreme racers freestylers and coaches alike this vest has resigned my super safe Amp to the sale rail!
With both the Spark and the Fuse jackets they both lack reinforcing as on the atom so I like to wear elbow pads over the top, last year I picked up a set of the Sweet Protection elbow pads and found them incredibly comfy, nice and soft giving loads of movement and protection to both the suit and my arms and looked great.
The Impact Deck from Palm  with its tough Kevlar protection and grippy yet super soft latex makes for a solid deck with an Oring seal uptop to stop flushing and keep you really dry this is one of the best upgrades to the palm catologue over recent years some of the decks have been pretty bad but the new lineup is solid and works a treat!

Down below I picked up a set of the new Horizon shorts Palms fleece lined wonders these are super comfy but I think for the chilly alps I'm going to stick with my old faithful Gradient shorts, though I've been using the Kaituna pants in the slalom boat and really liked them a lot. a lot closer fitting but lack the protection of the nylon outer of the horizon and gradients.

Underneath I'm heading into a second season of using Icebreaker though during the winter I did mix in a few Helly Hansen Merino thermals but for travelling Icebreaker is the boss, for this season I'm sticking with the crewe long sleeves but adding a crewe short sleeve to the mix in case I decide to pull out the Zenith cag for a few days!
In the footwear department I'm still pushing on with my Keen Gorge Boots, comfy and reliable these things are solid in the toughest conditions, I've seen a prototype for 2015 of the new Gorge-Us boot so keep your eves open for something new,

Hardware for this year and I'm still loving my Werner's, The 203cm Shoguns for creeking and 197 Shoguns for play though thinking of switching to double diamonds for play as they hold less water making the release much smoother, but Werner Werner Werner…… that's all
Boats for this year is always a tough question, this time last year I had NEVER paddled a Mamba, now you rarely see me without it! I'm torn between the XL Burn 3 and the big Mamba both super boats but for King of the Alps the predictability of the Mamba is coming with me. but watch this space more time out in the Burn 3 and it could be an easy change,

For freestyle I picked up a Gui Gui earlier this year and really don't know how I ever lived without one, so much so I've really lit a spark back for freestyle something I gave up last year but now seriously thinking about getting back on the horse and heading to World Cup 1, Seriously looking at the Helixer GuiGuis newest design. I was never truly convinced of the merits of carbon until now, if I'm not in the carbon boat it has to be the Jed from Pyranha the super fast hull just wants to launch, its so much fun to paddle, (just needs another inch in the feet)

The new wheels, Most people have now seen my new paddle van on the road, now sign written and cruising, loaded and ready to boat,

Thanks to Eamon Cummins for the shots

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