by Bill Vonnegut
|This boat is not on the market yet, but I had a chance to take out the pre production model.|
|Hammer and Delphin|
1) Surfing and ocean wave play
2) Rock Gardening
3) Tide rip play
So here is my take on what I thought about this boat…
The short version:
1) Caught waves nicely and very maneuverable, though if you catch the wave to late the high rocker that makes it surf so well also tends to let it quickly broach.
2) While surfing, once speed is introduced the boat starts planing, takes off and is easy to control by putting it on edge
3) It will effortlessly punch over about any wave you dare try, and you don’t get the body slam that you would feel with other boats
4) It will do a 180 flat spin with just two strokes (1 forward 1 reverse), I put it on edge and its about the same but seemed to spin better flat
5) It’s not fast, but will get you where you want to go
6) Tracks straight-with some skeg
7) Super stable, even when getting tossed around in chaotic white water
8) Edge turns on a dime, similar to the Delphin if you lean back slightly put a little extra weight on the rear outer corner it turns much sharper
9) Good primary, secondary and a bonus stability point where it locks in on its side, I have never seen a boat with such a solid feeling on its side.
The long version:
I met my friend Mark Boyd out at Bolinas last Fri for a day of surfing. This is a great place to catch long rides on days when the swell is large, as it was that kind of day. It faces south so the large north swell tends to wrap around nicely.
We started the day playing around in some small nicely formed surf, about 2-3 ft. The waves were clean and slow. The Hammer caught the waves nicely and maneuvered quite well.
After a while in this spot we decided to head to the outer reef and wait for the tide to drop, Bolinas really needs low tide for the kayak surfing to be good.
|Photo by Mark Boyd|
Did I say this boat surfed well? Wait until you have to punch out through a big set. I found myself paddling through very large piles of foam that I regularly do with my Delphin. Where I would normally build speed, jam the paddle in the back of the wave, and take the hit as I pull myself over. So it took a while to get used to just gliding over waves that I normally have to be very aggressive with. This boat just rode over anything I hit with it. It was so effortless that I would just paddle and try coasting over some decent size waves just to see if I would make it. I made it every time I tried this.
|Photo by Mark Boyd|
Saturday Steve Lidia and I had a Tide Rip class to teach for California Canoe & Kayak. I needed to be there by 9 then I was going to pass off the boat to Steve after the class. I really wanted to get this thing in the rocks before I let go of it. So that morning, I arrived at Horseshoe cove at 6:30 am, geared up and did a sunrise paddle out the Golden Gate.
I found this boat super stable and tracked great while running some pour overs.
I also did some playing on a couple of ledges, one where the water flows up then back into a deep hole, and the other where it slammed against a wall and bounced back creating a large reflecting wave. I found myself driving deeper into these spots and getting tossed around more than I normally would on a solo trip. The boat was so stable and easy to control that I could not stop pushing it harder and harder and it was hard to find a limit.
One of my favorite things to do in my Fusion is ride up on a ledge spin 180 and paddle off. The Hammer does that with ease. It spins just as fast as the Fusion but at the same time, does not get thrown around as much. It really goes where you want to be and it does not let the ocean push you around.
|Photo by Mark Boyd|
Later that morning we headed out into Yellow Bluff, our local tide rip that resembles a large washing machine where random surfable waves roll through whenever they feel like it. I found the boat to be as I expected, super stable and I was able to catch some waves and turn from one chaotic wave to the next, working my way up the rip. I did find as I was lightly paddling forward the waves coming up behind me would turn the boat 90 deg as they hit. But this boat turns so easy, a quick stoke and I was back on track. I did not have any problems when I was paddling harder and working my way up the rip.
I really can’t think of anything negative to say about this boat. And the only small advantage I can see to the Fusion over the Hammer is it’s shorter, so may be friendlier in tight spots and small caves. But if you have a good reverse stroke this wont be a problem.
Recently my Fusion was stolen and I need to replace it. There is a good size cost difference between the two boats but I am thinking, it’s Hammer time!
I am still a big fan of short boat play for rock gardening and I consider the Hammer more of a short Sea Kayak. Now that I will have something to travel distance and play hard, like the Fusion. In addition to the Hammer I am going smaller to my true white water boat for short boat play in the rocks. Watching Jeff Laxier up in Mendocino flow through the rocks in his Jive makes using a true WW boat very appealing.
I just spent 3 more days in the boat and still like it very much. Here is a little more on it.
As I stated above that the boat tended to turn sideways when hit from behind by a wave in Yellow Bluff.
I have also found this happens as a wave comes up from behind while running a higher volume pour over. But as in the tide rip, this can be easily compensated for by paddling a little aggressively.
Next time out I am going to try stowing my gear in the front hatch instead of the day hatch. I would like to experiment with a little more weight in the front of the boat. It may help resolve this issue. Also I wish it was a little lighter as to make it respond faster. But at the same time I do like the strong lay up.
I would have to say overall the boat maneuvers very well through out the rock gardens and is allot of fun.
I should also add that I did not mention the outfitting, because it will be different in the production model.
Now how about some video of the hammer:
We just headed up to Mendocino for my first big trip since I picked up my new Hammer. This boat is fantastic. I have a new video shot from the Hammer, it only shows the bow, as I filmed it. But really shows what this boat can handle.