My friends at Sydney Harbour Kayaks have introduced a new brand of kayaks, Shrike, to their already impressive quiver of paddle-craft. After being talked up as incredibly high-quality hand-made boats I asked to take one for a test paddle, and in blasting 30 knot winds and armed with my greenland paddle, out I went.
First impressions – the boat was pretty difficult to get into for a big fella like myself, and it took a bit of effort to squeeze myself into the cockpit. This is a common issue for me, and for someone a bit lighter I can’t imagine this would be much of an problem.
Stability in the boat is pretty good considering it has such a streamlined shape, and I was impressed at how much lean I could push into her without tipping myself into the drink.
The speed for a plastic kayak is excellent. Paddling alongside Shannon from Sydney Harbour Kayaks, who was paddling a composite Boréal Design kayak, and even with my greenland paddle he was struggling to keep up with me. For a plastic kayak, the speed is really very impressive, and enabled by both its streamlined shape and its incredible lightness (enabled, Shannon tells me, but an innovative construction technique keeping the weight down to a measley 22kg – astounding!). Its nicely finished off with hatch-covers made from 100% recycled plastic, a plus for those of us with a slight green leaning.
The rudder system is an innovative sprung-sling system than needs to be seen to be understood, and is quite an innovation in terms of rudder storage design. In terms of steering though, I found it a little soft, but the Shrike B450 is incredibly manouverable without the rudder, and I found myself easily throwing the boat around with edging and paddle strokes.
In terms of general feel, this is a really fun boat. I bounced her around some big swell and boat wake and found her really easy to handle. Her manouverability makes this boat ideal for rock-gardening, and if it wasn’t the demo stock I would have loved to have bounced her off some rocks in the surf! This is a undoubtedly a close-shore specialist and if it came in a bigger size I’d love to have one for surfing, exploring and general fun amongst the rocks. A great addition to the SHK range – thanks for the test paddle!