Way back in 1999 a boat came out that revolutionized playboating for smaller paddlers. It was a 7 foot long, narrow and super slicey/loose design called the "triple x" (xxx), the smallest of the "X" series of boats. Finally, six years later, I'm helping to design a boat that gives me the same feeling of "the sky is the limit" that the xxx did for me back then.
This is the boat Iíve been waiting for! The Project 45 is a high performance boat that will revolutionize freestyle kayaking for women and smaller paddlers. Time and time again manufacturers have missed the mark in boats for women. I loved the Wave Sport XXX (1999) and so did a lot of other small paddlers, but since then there hasnít really been a boat out there for us. After working with Robert Peerson on the EZG 42, which is a great river running playboat (perfect for smaller paddlers getting into playboating), I was fired up to start working on a high-performance playboat with no compromises. Thank you, Robert Peerson. Since he has come on board as lead designer at Wave Sport (ZG, Diesel, EZG and now the Project series), the team has had a huge impact on feedback and input on boats. Itís incredible. I know half the time I might be in left field with my comments and ideas, but he still listens.
For most of this season I have been in the Project 45 prototypes. And yes it has been frustrating. Figuring out from one proto to the next what works what doesnít. But each time we got closer. Robert had all the women on team Wave Sport, as well as others, get in and out of the boat. The past two weeks, Ruth Gordon, Tanya Faux, Robin Betz, and I tested the most current prototype on all river features on the Upper Gauley River. We even drove 14 hours to test the boat on the Lachine Rapids to make sure it was perfect on waves. Crazy I know, but Robert wanted to make sure we had tested the boat thoroughly. And let me tell you, I have never paddled that well on a wave before. The boat skyrockets out of the water, effortlessly. Ruth, T, and I are so FIRED UP!!!
T.Faux was the one who commented that this boat would revolutionize freestyle kayaking for women. And I believe her. I have never paddled a boat like this since the XXX. The PROJECT 45 will be released Spring 2006. I highly recommend any smaller paddlers out there to hop into one and try it out...youíll understand what Iím talking about. So excited and happy about kayaking!!! My best, T.Shuman PS This boat puts the fun back into kayaking.
Red Bull: www.redbull.com
Red Bull energy drink is a great for me during times of increased mental and physical exertion. The perfect combination is drinking both water and Red Bull about 1/2 hour before competing in freestyle kayaking. You must have an extremely fast reaction time in kayaking. You need to adjust quickly to the sudden changes of water below your boat. In short, the effectiveness of Red Bull gives me the alertness and concentration to keep on my game during increased times of physical and mental pressure. It really does give you wings.
Teva Footwear is one of the most important pieces of gear for me. I wear the Teva Proton. I believe having footwear that works is essential in kayaking. You have to get in and out of your boat when you kayak whether it's scouting a rapid, walking your boat to and from the water, swimming in the river, or more importantly being prepared for a river rescue. You don't want to be thinking about slipping and falling or stepping on broken glass. That is why proper footwear is vital in kayaking just like a lifejacket and helmet. Take the time to look at www.teva.com and find the footwear that best suits your needs. They have an assortment of shoes for almost every outdoor activity from rafting to running to just hanging out on the beach.
You need protection from the sun's harmful rays. I wear Oakley because I want the best protection for my eyes and Oakley produces the best eyewear, bar none. They put a lot of time and capital into testing. Eyewear is like sun block you need defense from the sun. Wearing Oakleys when paddling eliminates glare from the water as well as shields water from my eyes. This makes paddling easier. I wear the Oakley Half Jacket or the Oakley Water Jacket. Take a look at their website www.oakley.com. This company is serious about their product. Function and Fashion combined. You provide the dreams, and they'll provide the vision to get there.
Lotus Designs: www.lotusdesigns.com
Both Lotus and Patagonia share a commitment to the environment, to excellent design and manufacturing, and to remarkable customer service. In 2004, the Lotus Ladies with the excellence of the Lotus Designs R&D came together to design the first womanís paddling line. Lotus Designs was the first to come out with a Ladies Lifejacket. And now for 2005, womanís kayaking gear. My favorites are:
W's Eva-lution Dry Top: Specially designed to fit female paddlers, the Eva-lution is the best for cold-water/cold-weather paddling. Love the cut, material, and the colors.
W's Steep Stretch Pants: Finally paddling pants that actually fit female paddlers. Steep's are perfect for cold-water/cold-weather paddling. These semi-dry pants are waterproof/breathable and ride comfortably low on the hips so they won't interfere with your spray skirt.
The Lotus Sherman PFD: I use a Sherman Platform for freestyle kayaking. I'm concerned about two things, safety and mobility. The Lotus Lifejacket is US Coastguard Approved which is extremely important to me. I know that this lifejacket has thoroughly been tested and will work in rescue situations. Secondly, this lifejacket provides mobility. It doesn't hinder my movement when performing tricks. I barely know that I'm wearing a lifejacket.
Werner Paddles: www.wernerpaddles.com
My paddle of choice is the Werner Double Diamond straight shaft. It is dependable and durable. The blades don't wear down in a season and the paddle does not break which is important when running Class V. The paddle is also light weight with down-tilting blades which provide great initial power and response. My paddle length for freestyle is 190 with a 45 degree off-set. My off-set may change to 30 or 25 degrees. I want to see if a lower angle off-set for my blades will give me more power to push from when doing loops or blunts. I will keep you informed. I keep my paddle shorter for freestyle so I don't trip over it when performing tricks like cartwheeling. During freestyle, your blade should be placed near the center of your cockpit along side your hips. The farther the blade extends out to the stern or bow, the greater chance your body is moving forward and back when it should be centered. My paddle length for running rivers and waves is 196 to 200 with a 45 degree off-set. I prefer a longer paddle when running rivers and on waves because the longer the paddle the more reach you have to pull the water to you in a forward stroke which in turn gives you more power and control.