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Mr. Foster’s Little Secret

Posted Dec 20 2005 12:00am

Oh you silly thing
You’ve really gone and done it now
Oh you silly thing
ou’ve really gone and done it now
- sex pistols

I know what you’re wondering.

You’re wondering, “Why does he want to be the first person in history to be beat to a pulp by Nigel Foster?”. Who knows why we dream?? So with that goal in mind here’s today’s post. . .

It’s pretty sad, I know, but I had no interest in paddling one of Nigel’s boats. (Sorry, sorry, I’m really sorry, really. .) I’d seen them at various symposiums but they never jumped out. I suppose there was no real reason other than I have my Explorer so I don’t long for a new love.

However all summer I’d been seeing a constant quiet undercurrent of wonder. Little background conversations behind willow trees and whispers around fires. Folks have really been suffering their imaginations with dreams of Nigel Foster’s Rumour. One could only imagine what his new kayak was going to look like. Why was it going to be at Current Designs instead of Seaward which is home to Nigel’s other designs!? That certainly fueled the vocal campfires of summer, especially after a group of Wisconsinites actually toured the Current Designs facility. They came back saying, “The Rumour is there, but we could not see it”. Wow! Just like Groom Lake. Nigel’s new kayak was an X-Plane!

Myself, I had not paddled any of Nigel’s kayaks so I was an outsider to the anticipation. Then at BCU Week while in his class the inquisition began. Students wanting to know the low down about the Rumour. Nigel was amazingly tight lipped and would only smile in that way that makes some people believe they’re in on a secret, and others realize he’s not saying a damn thing! As for me, all I could say was I’d never paddled one of his boats. Well, that would not stand! So it was not long before he had me launching an aqua-green Silhouette out into a little Georgia marsh. Obviously he did’nt know how neurotic I am. I hate that bit where people expect you to come back with an opinion. I’m the worst person to put in that position. Just knowing I’m supposed to have an opinion and state it makes me break out in hives. How can I really “experience” this boat when I know I have to tell the guy who designed it what I think??. (Ok, Charlie Brown, get it together. You can do this. . .) Thing is, it always takes me weeks to become aware of a conviction. Slow synapse I suppose. It’s like being in a restaurant and having someone say “you’ve got to try this!”. I always say, “ah, It’s Ok.”. I don’t mean to be dreary, but I just don’t get an instant ‘rush’. I’m not wired for instant opinions. Look how long it took me to write this blog!!

Then to be honest I really had not expected to enjoy the boat as much as I did. On first impressions new kayaks strike me as too linear. Yes, I know that probably makes them faster and more efficient. But my heart is called to swept bows and curvy sterns. The original Valley Nordkapp is a great example of a curvy sea kayak. It’s looks like a Viking marauder. But frankly if I put that romantic view aside, the Silhouette was about as perfect as a kayak could be to me.

I slid into it easily. The fit was phenomenal. Of course that is a “luck of the draw” kind of thing. But personally I would not have to pad it out. As I slipped out into the water I was a bit surprised by how stable the Silhouette “felt”. I use the phrase “felt” because my Explorer is stable, yet it’s got a “wiggle”. Nigel’s boat suggested the stability of much wider boats. However all it took was a slight lean to know it was actually a very nimble boat with strong initial stability. It was very nice indeed. It felt very quick and maneuvered with little effort. I had a much better success rate with some of Nigel’s patented moves, than I did with my Explorer. The really cool thing about nimble, quick boats like Nigel’s, is that they make you actually feel like you know what you’re doing! I felt like my skill level jumped in his boat. The nice low rear deck made layback rolls a breeze. Here is a pretty stupid observation, but I also really enjoyed the glide. I could get up a little speed and then just let it slide across the water like riding an ice skate. I love boats like that. It takes me back to running and sliding across a frozen sidewalk! Lots of fun. I have a much better understanding how friends with his boats can easily paddle in rough conditions using a Greenland paddle. Nigel’s boats just respond so well. You certainly have to rate his designs as some of the best on the market.

So that brings me back to the Rumour which has finally been revealed. All 16 feet of her and less than 20 inches wide. According to the website;

“Nigel designed the Rumour for low-effort cruising and a slim fit. It has a buoyant bow and low profile stern, with the shallow-arch hull between hard chines running into a shallow “V” toward the stern. Recessed deck fittings include a compass recess forward of the front hatch, with bow and stern hatches and a day-hatch.

The Rumour’s narrow beam is aimed at smaller paddlers up to 150 pounds. The snug fit and slim profile also make it an excellent rolling kayak for heavier paddlers.”

That certainly sounds like Nigel’s kayaks. It’s going to be a nice boat. I bet it’s going to sell like wildfire. But alas, I have my old love and don’t imagine trading the war horse in any time soon. It is my Bucephalus. He’s saved my hide too many times to be traded in for Nigel’s devilish temptations. But who knows, maybe sometime my horse will need a new friend!

- d

* Rumour photo lifted from Current Designs.

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