The Coast to Coast is now not very far away, so hopefully you are feeling confident about paddling the Waimak Gorge and are feeling fit and ready to go. But what about your kayak; is that ready to go too? There would be nothing worse than having to pull over during the race to repair your kayak. Here are a few things you can do to prevent an issue on race day.
Place your kayak on a flat surface, such as the lawn and take a look at the following.
The rudder is the main component of your kayak that is likely to give you issues. With some regular inspection and occasional TLC the rudder shouldn't give you any issues.
1. Lift the stern of the kayak off the ground and give the rudder blade a flick backwards. It should return to the vertical position with a 'snap'. If not, you need to either tighten the shock cord that acts as a spring, or replace the internal rudder spring. Check to see if the rudder blade strikes the kayak when it returns to the vertical position. If it does, the block in the center of the rudder may have worn and need replacing. Or, the main bolt that the rudder pivots on may need a tighten. To tighten this bolt, loosen the nut first, then tighten the bolt before tightening the nut again. The rudder should pivot side to side easily, without any play in the rudder. (see part 2 below)
2. Inspect the rudder for excess play in the pivot. If the rudder can move side to side (tilting side to side, rather than turning side to side) it will increase the wear on the block and other parts. To tighten, you must first loosen the nut at the bottom and then tighten the bolt itself. The rudder should turn easily left and right, but without any excess play. Then tighten the nut at the bottom. If this doesn't remove the play then your rudder block has worn and may need replacing.
3. Inspect rudder lines. The cord used on rudder lines will wear over time and if you can see some wear, then it's worth replacing. If you have coloured cord, look to see if the outer sheath has worn, allowing you to see the white inner. If you have stainless cables, then look for fraying. The most common place for wear is where the cord is attached to the rudder body. Inspect as much of the rudder cord as you can see. Spectra rudder cord is inexpensive so it is worth keeping a length in your kayak. If your rudder cable does ever break, then you can easily replace it on the river bank. And a length of cord is always handy to have for other gear repair.
4. If your rudder blade is made from aluminium you will probably notice burrs on the leading edge. Every rock you hit will flatten the front surface a little, but a few minutes with a file and you can reshape back to the original profile.
The center pillars in your race kayak are extremely important. They provide a structure to your kayak, ensuring that it will keep its shape when paddling through waves. It will also reduce the chance of damage should your kayak get trapped on a rock. Too often center pillars come loose and move or even fall over in the kayak. When this happens the kayak is severely reduced in strength. If your pillars are feeling loose, you may need to remove the foam block (shaped like a U) and then reattach it closer to the pillar. Ensure that the pillar is firmly wedged into the kayak before you glue the foam block into place.
You should check your airbags before each paddle. It's easy, just give them a squeeze to ensure that there is plenty of air in them. Valves can be replaced if the have fallen off. Slow leaks can be repaired with a patch or a glob of Aquaseal.
Kayak hull and deck
Give the hull a look over. Any deep scratches should be repaired before further damage occurs. Pay close attention to the nose and tail of the kayak, as well as under the seat. If there has been previous damage then you may find soft patches which need to be fixed.
If you have any questions give us a call and we will happily help you out.