Sunday, August 31, 2008

The new Remix 100

Shane Benedict, designer for liquidlogic, and a half-cord of Remix 100s.

At Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake I saw a few new boats that turned my head, I'll be posting about them (to make up for the complete lack of paddling content lately).

Before we talk about the Remix 100, you need a bit of history. As few as 10 years ago, most whitewater kayaks were long -- over ten feet. Some of the radical playboaters had sub-ten-foot boats, but they were on the cutting edge. 25 years ago everything was made of fiberglass and resin. My first whitewater kayak was 13 feet long...a 1982 Perception Mirage, as pictured.

That giant yellow banana is an actual Mirage (the only image I could find on Google, no kidding). The car is thankfully not mine. Thanks to the person who posted this or else no one would ever know just how big and yellow that boat was.

So what I'm saying here is that for a ten-footer to be considered long is sorta humorous for us old-school gray/bald/both boaters. Over the past decade or so boats have become increasingly tiny. Sub-six footers are not uncommon, and they require a Houdini-like ability to fold yourself and a disregard for having any feeling in your toes. The good news is that they allow skilled paddlers to do amazing things like this:

That's my buddy Yonton doing a clean blunt. Pretty cool, huh? I can admire this sort of athleticism from afar. I can stay upright and surf, flatspin and do unintentional manky moves...that's the limit of my skillz.

Anyway...the Remix is a series of user-friendly whitewater kayaks designed to allow the paddler to enjoy the river while sitting in the paddling equivalent of a barcalounger. I first demo-ed a Remix 69 at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. It was really cool...very, very comfortable in the Class III-IV stuff the artificial course throws at you.

What Shane wanted was a multi-day trip whitewater boat that could be self-sustaining, so he stretched out the shorter Remix 69 out to 10 feet, narrowed it up a bit, and added a cool drop-skeg to allow the Remix 100 to track on the flatwater sections. In short, an enduro kayak, perfect for unsupported trips on big western rivers or any river for that matter.

I want one. I don't need one, but I want one. If nothing else, it's a great boat into which you could place a beginner without worrying about them spinning in circles on a Class I-II river.

And here's what the Remix can do in the hands of a competent paddler like Shane. If you picture in your mind's eye the Remix going over the falls backwards, and replacing the white helmet with a yellow one, then that is a reasonable facsimile of what I would like like running that drop.

For a cool blog post about how the Remix was designed and built to prototype stage, check this out.

Feeling humbled by Shane's considerable paddling and designing talent,


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