Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The New Bliss-Stick Tuna

I have been lucky enough to paddle the new 'Tuna' from Bliss-Stick for the past few weeks on a variety of different occasions.  First off was its home on the Kaituna where Sam Roil and I did multiple laps on the normal run critiquing its every move on the different drops. Immediately I was amazed by its speed on the water.  It moves almost effortlessly through flat water.  I usually have my Mystic seat right forward so I can keep it in control better but I prefer to have my seat back in the Tuna due to its large tail.  Something worth playing round with in any boat till you find your perfect balance point.
With the extra length and flatter bottom the initial carving speed in the Chute (rapid 1 on Kaituna) was a little slower than the mystic but I soon found a different style to make up for that.  Speed across the flow was unmatchable though.  This is the first weigh up I noticed between the Mystic and the Tuna. Speed across the water Vs responsive sharp eddy turns.
Next up I was blown away by how well the boat handled across choppy, boiling water.  It stays on top and glides over top and goes the direction your pointing and keeps that way till you change it.  When the boat is a full speed here it is easy to make changes to your line as the nose is sitting high on top of the water.
Then comes the first boof of the river... For someone my size this is where I expected to have troubles.  At a whopping 65Kgs I sit a the bottom end of the weight scale for most creek boats so moving into a longer and bigger volume boat was a little optimistic I thought. But.. With that extra bit of acceleration and an uncanny ability to land beautifully I was now sold on the Tuna.  Yes it does take the smaller paddler a bit more to boof but even with a little bit of nose up it scoots out of the pit again in a straight line of where your pointing and then the bow stays low and does not kick up or to either side.  Even though its harder to get the nose up for me I now find myself boofing less as I know how it will react at the bottom.
I then took the boat on 3 days kayaking instruction on the Mohaka River and it was great there. Fast on slow water helps get to upside down students quickly! Also the deck on the Tuna seems slightly lower than the Mystic so I don't seem to hit my hands as much and barrel rolling students is easy too!
We took the Tuna for a couple of runs down the lower Kaituna run and have no complaints there! Especially when you have to paddle for an hour on flat water to get out. longer hull = less effort paddling!
Now I know the Kaituna is a great river but one of a kind really. So we were hanging out to test it on something a little more characteristic of other rivers around NZ and the world.  With a bit of rain in the Kaimai Ranges we set off to paddle the Upper Ngamuwahine.  This is a sweet creek that makes its was through dense forest a lot like the Wairoa River.  Big boulders and lovely sieves on every rapid meant we needed to keep on our toes.  The Tuna had no trouble keeping out of trouble here.  One thing Sam and I both noticed was we were now in a creek where the rapids are stacked on top of each other unlike the Kaituna and some adjustments were needed.  Not with the boat but the way we paddled.  Like I mentioned earlier the Tuna once boofed it lands and speeds out of drops.  When drops are stacked up we had to make sure we didnt boof, land and shoot right into the next drop.  This was quickly noted and adjusted for and we had a sweet day out paddling.
I will be sure to keep you updated on how the boat goes and a video coming soon! Till then if you want to see how it looks watch Sam Sutton's run on the Sickline Race.  You will notice a few of its characteristics I have pointed out matched with some amazing paddling by Sam!
For now that is all!
If you want to know more or like to try the Tuna out on the Kaituna then send me a message and Ill let you take mine for a spin.
- Sam Roil - Upper Ngamuwahine River - Photo Josh Neilson

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