Knysna Kayaks Robberg Express

14 years 3 months ago - 14 years 3 months ago #4084 by cptmayhem
HI guys,

newby to the sport of paddling, but have spent some time in K1's and K2's before, but only on flat water (for obvious reasons)

Just want to get your opinions on the Robberg Express, and it's suitability in the long run for a semi-intermediate kind of paddler. I don't want to get a beginner ski and then 3 months down the line get exasperated with a big wallowy whale that i bought to "wet my paddles" again.

As an aside- I weigh (currently) 95 kilos, and am 6ft tall. Plan on getting it down drastically in the next few months.

Any thoughts?
Last edit: 14 years 3 months ago by cptmayhem.

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14 years 3 months ago #4089 by wmongie
I was in the same boat as you ( :P ) just a short while ago!

I have been paddling surfskis for 18 months and currently paddle a Robberg Express (updated version). My experience with the Robberg may not be exactly what you are looking for as it's my 3rd boat since I started but you might find my views helpful nonetheless. I started on a Knysna Kayaks Stingray but quickly changed to a Red7 Surf70. I never really felt comfortable in the Red7 as we do a lot of around the cans type racing in our area and the Surf70 tends to handle like a barge. At 21kg, the boat was also quite heavy and I never felt like I could get it up to speed unless I got it onto a big wave.

The reason I finally changed to a Robberg, was that it seemed to be a boat aimed at the lighter paddler. I'm 1.8m (6ft), 75kg so this seemed like a good fit for me. My boat weighs just under 15kg (Standard glass) and handles extremely well due to (I assume) the fact that it has more rocker built in. Of course, in theory this will affect the speed of the boat but I can say that I feel much faster on the boat due to the added acceleration off the mark. My top speed in all conditions has improved and although I'm still very much a back marker in the races, I have seen great improvements since getting in the Robberg. I've had to add quite a lot of padding in the cockpit but I like a good, snug fit. The guy I bought it from was selling due to the fact that the cockpit was too snug for him and I would peg him at about 90 - 95kg so I'd say definitely paddle it before you buy. He said he was fine for the first hour but then the pinch would get to him so a good, long test paddle is a must.

I bought the Robberg with exactly the same idea in mind. I'm in it for the long haul with this boat. Every time I paddle, I appreciate how light the boat is, from getting it onto the roof to accelerating off the mark. Stability wise, who knows? Initially, the primary stability definitely felt less than the Red7 Surf70 but it's definitely less of an issue now. I have been paddling it for about 6 months so the time on the water has definitely helped. I have found the subject of stability to be a difficult one as every person's opinion is based on how they feel in the boat and that has nothing to do with how I feel in the boat. The reality is that surfskis feel unstable when you start and with time, they feel less stable.

To end off, I'd say that if I could do it all over again, I'd buy a Think Evo or Mako XT to start with and paddle it for at least 1 year or 18 months. The reality is, that after 3 months and even after 1 year you're still a novice in surfski paddling so don't be fooled into thinking you'll be bored of a 'starter boat' after 3 months. These boats cost a bit more on the second hand market but they also retain their value well. There is so much to get used to and experiment with when starting on a ski that it's a good investment in building your basic skills and confidence.When I started, I didn't know enough about the sport to make an educated decision but you know what they say about hindsight. I definitely think my progress would have been faster on a more stable boat in the beginning as I am only now, after 18 months able to work on the finer points of my technique without worrying about my balance. The Robberg is a great boat but I don't think it's the best starter boat.

Good luck!

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14 years 3 months ago #4099 by cptmayhem
Thanks man - going to see it this weekend, hopefully. So then I'll be able to see what it's like to handle.

Regarding the level of stability etc, I'm one of those guys who will just go out there and practice remounting just for the hang of it - I used to go out and capsize my Lazer dinghy and Halcat just so that I was used to how it felt when it went over, and knew how to get it back up. You'll probably find me on a local Vlei (dam/lake/billabong type thing) wobbling about on purpose in order to induce a roll.

So I don't find the stability thing an issue (when it comes to flat water, that is)

As for the chop & waves - I fully expect to be off my (soon to be purchased) ski at least 60% of the time in the first few days, gradually lessening until I am fully competent and only spend 5% of the time in the water.

The only thing I was worried about is that the Robberg seems to be an advanced ski. Having spoken to a few people in the know, however, I have come to the conclusion that if I want to learn by chucking myself straight into the deep end, then an advanced ski is for me. I am also one of those people who is looking for the best way to get knowledge. What better way to get knowledge of how to keep your balance in the rough, than in a ski that is more unstable than the XT - which I have been told I will get bored with pretty damn quickly...

In short, though, I can't wait to get into the water...

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14 years 3 months ago #4101 by richardh
I tried this a few years ago and found it was a tad too small width wise in the seat. I'm 1.84 (6ft 1) and 90kgs. I could not paddle it for more than a few minutes!

When you do take it for a paddle, make sure you paddle with your 'winter' gear on to make sure you are still comfortable!

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14 years 3 months ago #4105 by cptmayhem
Shot for the heads up.

I'll let you all know how it goes!

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14 years 3 months ago #4118 by cptmayhem

Got the ski, and it's sitting in the back garden just waiting for it's first outing with me in the seat.

Tested it out, and the width isn't an issue for me. Okay - it's very snug. And I mean VERY. But, seeing as I've lost 5kg in the past 2 months, and plan to get down by another 10, that won't pose a problem. And I actually find it comfortable right now (even with the extra bulk)

The ski itself is a 2007/2008 Robberg Express (former shape - initial mould) that was supposed to be shipped off to Aus for some clients, and as such was cut off at the transem, resulting in a flat-ended ski as opposed to the traditional point - backed ski. I think it adds a bit to the character, and actually like it. The modification was carried out by Knysna Racing Paddles, so it actually looks as if it was meant to be that way in the first place.

There were a couple of blemishes (cracks, dings etc) that one expects to see on a 2nd hand water craft, but I just smoothed those over with a coating of 357 (epoxy) courtesy of ABE, smoothed that down and now I just need to re-paint the surface to blend it all in.

The ski doesn't have a storage hatch, but if I really want one I can add it later. I plan to use a Camelbak that I have for when I cycle anyway, so I'll stow everything in there or fabricate a box myself so that I can keep stuff dry.

Aside from that, I just need to get myself a set of paddles (anyone got some spare down here in Cape Town?) and a PFD and I'm all set.

Can't wait to get on the water!

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