Legendry Aussie made Sea Kayaks

Justin Jones Testimonial

Editorial Hawkesbury Classic 2008 SEE Justins testimonial below

As if paddling from Sydney to New Zealand was not enough,

Crossing the Ditch’sJustin Jones still likes a challenge, and entered into the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic in a New Generation Sea Leopard sea kayak, produced Rafta Kayaks,

Justin put in a good effort, but is used to paddling with a partner and when one of his paddling partners pulled out of the race and the other broke a steering foot pedal in the craft he was paddling, resigned himself to paddle along side him to keep his spirits up and eventually both crossed the finish line in a reasonable time.

Over 330 canoes and kayaks and around 1500 paddlers and landcrew participated in the Red Cross organized event, paddling through the pitch black night, with times ranging from 8 hrs 32 min to some not getting to the line by the cut off time of 18 hrs.

Many long hrs are put in by Red Cross volunteers to organize and run this event, but are rewarded with raising over $200,000 for Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant charities. Our congratulations to all volunteers, paddlers and landcrew.

Justin commented that if he had been able to put in the full 100% he felt he would have been able to do the distance of 111km in around the 10 hrs in the New Sea Leopard, as it was a very stable and fast kayak.

Justin and bob discussing kayaks Testimonial from Justin Jones 2008

“At first I’ve got to admit…I was a sceptic.

I thought to myself “C’mon, that long…that wide…designed off a surf ski, sure she’s going to be fast but surely she’s going to be tippy.” – Didn’t I eat my words. Stable enough to suit a beginner and with pace that I would have killed for out on the Tasman.

I decided to paddle the Classic on a whim. In a moment of weakness in 2007 I promised a mate I’d paddle the Classic with him after James and I crossed the ditch. I almost escaped through the year…

Three weeks out, I received a phone call…the next day I had to find a kayak to paddle in LREC with my mate. Bob (from Rafta) swung in and loaned me the use of his Sea Leopard (Thanks Bob!) and since it was so close to the start of the race; I entered into the taper portion of my training straight away.

So with no training and in an unfamiliar kayak. I thought I’d give it a whirl.

The glove box was definitely nice and handy. Tracking wasn’t an issue as a result of the permanently fixed skeg on the rear. User friendly rudder systems, a comfy seat, clean lines, a snug cockpit…this kayak had it all and speed to boot. The Sea Leopard did however seem to push a far bit of a bow wave but she still flew in the water so that didn’t seem to be having too much of an impact.

70km into the Classic we were looking at about a 10.45 time, but disaster struck. My mates’ rudder broke (not a Sea Leopard) and we ended up crossing the line in just over 12hrs (I wasn’t going to leave him especially since he got me to paddle it).

Perhaps not the fastest Classic that I’ve done, but definitely the easiest and after no training leading up to the race…it definitely had to be the kayak, cause it sure as hell wasn’t me!

The next step would be to play with her in a bit of surf and do some long ocean paddles. I think she might struggle in the break zone as most kayaks of that length would but for all round performance across a broad range of paddling; expedition, racing, social – you couldn’t do much better.

Justin Jones
Crossing the Ditch 
World First Trans Tasman Kayak Expedition”

We have returned from the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, Phill Newman who paddled the New Sea Leopard for us, took out a second place(“yayyyy”) in the Long Rec V+ class, and had expected to do about 13 hrs, but delightfully came in at 11 hrs and 4 seconds. (10:42:54 on handicap), We are delighted with the result, which means an average speed in excess of 10 km/hr. Our congrats to Phill, and many thanks.
From those who had a test paddle whilst up in Sydney the most common comment was that “it did not give a ‘big’ boat feel when paddling, turning and playing”, even though it is a large kayak with a large capacity(over 220lt storage), this is due to its amazing stability, narrowness and low cockpit position.

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