Surfski Review: Think Legend

Sunday, 27 April 2008 04:28 | Written by  Brandon Nelson
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[Editor: Adventurer, writer and highly experienced paddler Brandon Nelson wrote this review of the Think Legend surfski. Their blog is at http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com/]

Heather and Brandon Nelson
Heather and Brandon Nelson (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)


 

 

The Legend

Last Saturday at Marine Park in Fairhaven, Daryl Remmler - the now sole owner of Think Kayaks - traveled down with his company's newest surfski, the Legend, for a demo session. Heather and I showed up just after nine a.m. and found the rest of the regulars getting ready for their weekly paddle on the Bay. A small crowd stood around the Legend, curious to see and to paddle what is perhaps the most innovative Surfski hull design in, well... ever.

Think Legend
Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

Historically, Surfski hull shapes have stayed true to the "half cylinder" cross section that is so synonymous with speed. Based on the sphere, which is the shape capable of containing the most amount of volume with the least surface area, the circular cross section is the most efficient shape for optimum hull speed. (We're just talking cross sectional shape here, leaving other variables like rocker and length for another discussion).

BUT... the half cylinder is also very unstable for most paddlers. Upright, it's sitting on the least amount of surface area possible, so primary stability is minimal. And there's nothing to slow its side to side so there's no noticeable difference between primary and secondary stability. As the sport grew and demand spread, designers gradually began adding subtle flat sections to the bottom of the hull and other mystical John Dixon-esque tweaks to improve that stability curve. Speeds on race courses like our Wednesday Night course here in Bellingham dramatically improved among ALL the paddler who got in these types of boats, because "optimum hull speed" doesn't necessarily translate into "real world speed" if half the paddler's energy is going into just staying upright. The best example of this is the Huki S1-X & Special, and the Epic V10's.

 

But to the layperson, and even the lay-paddler, the shape still looks very much like a half-cylinder. Like I said, the flat sections are subtle, with nice round transitions between bottom and sides.

Think Legend chine
That chine...(Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

Meanwhile, in the brightly lit studios of sailboat, whitewater kayak and sea kayak designers the world over, the "chine" has been in use for ages. Simply put, the single chine is a "squared" edge running lengthwise along some portion of the hull between the bottom and sides. It creates a not-so-subtle flat bottom and sides, more the cross section of a box than a cylinder.

So what does it do? A few things, really.

First of all, it increases surface area, so technically it's not as efficient at slower speeds because there's more friction with the water.

Second, it typically increases primary stability because you've got more of a platform to sit on as compared to the bottom of a cylinder - just picture a basketball sitting on your floor next to a shoe box. Which is more stable?

Third, if the chines run along enough of the hull - as they do on the Legend - it gives the boat the opportunity to become a "planning hull" at higher speeds instead of the typical "displacement hull." A cylindrical hullshape is always creating a hole in water to sit in, at any speed. It's always displacing water below the surface level of the water. But a flat, planning hull, at speed, can literally climb out of that hole and skim across the water's surface. The best example is a skim board - you know, the plywood platforms you see people riding in ¼" of water at flat, sandy beaches the world over. Planing is FAST!!!

Fourth, the chines can be used like a skeg or rudder to get "bite" on the water, primarily useful when surfing at high speed. And this is where you're destined to fall absolutely in LOVE with the Legend's chines.

Rounded hulls shapes rely totally on rudder and paddle blade to steer. But a hull with chines can (in the right hands) carve a wave face like Thanksgiving turkey. It's basic edge control, somewhat like a big wave surfer uses to crank a bottom turn. Rounded = no edge, no edge control. Chines = hard edge = edge control.

Unless you're Oscar or his caliber, you ARE missing rides on downwind runs because of the two things the Legend may prove to be most capable of: obtaining high (planning) speeds on a wave face, and more directional control while surfing by using the rudder AND the chines to "steer" the boat.

Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)
Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

On our test day, however, the nearest wave may've been in Hawaii. It was glass-flat on Bellingham Bay, and test-paddling the Legend in those conditions is like test driving a Porsche and being told you can't leave the parking lot. The boat has Think's trademark super-clean lines and construction details, no visible side seam, and rock solid heel plate and foot pedal system, fully adjustable of course. It comes with foot straps installed. Daryl's also taken the much-called-for pioneering leap and added a dedicated leash attachment point. It's right under the calf area in the cockpit. Kudos, Daryl!

Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)
Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

After Dean Bumstead and Heather finished their test paddles, I figured it'd be too tight a fit but I'd squeeze in and see how the hull felt on the water. I adjusted the pedals out to their furthest setting and hopped in. Surprise! It's the longest cockpit of any ‘ski I've sat in. I didn't measure it out, but it's got to be another inch longer than the V10 at least - NICE for ultra.

Brandon Nelson, Think Legend
Brandon tries the cockpit for size (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

On the water, I didn't notice anything freakish about the primary stability with the chines and flatter-than-usual bottom, and that was a relief. Freakish primary stability translates into freakish sluggish speeds. Freakish secondary stability is, in my book, fine. The Epic V10 Sport has freakishX2 secondary stability, but still a very respectable hull speed. The Legend paddled in the glass pretty much like every other ski on glass, as far as I could tell, except that the chine made the transition from primary to secondary noticeable. It cruised very easily in the 6.7 to 7 mph range, and a short sprint (with a borrowed, short paddle) brought it up to 9.4 mph fairly quickly. Turning was tight, especially leaned away a bit. And I LOVE that heel plate. There is absolutely NO give there and all my leg energy went right to the paddle blade. Loved it.

Brandon Nelson, Think Legend
Think Legend (Pic: http://ultramarathonpaddling.blogspot.com)

But again, this boat, to me and I'm sure to the designer, is destined for downwind runs. I want to feel it plane out on a 6' face and see what's possible. That may just have to wait until next fall's return to Hawaii, or our local storm season.

Visit Think Kayaks website at thinkkayaks.com

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~In the Spirit of Compassion and Adventure~

Brandon, Heather and Hayden


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