2011 – Alpackas get the point

Short version: the extended tail makes a Llama now 2.4 metres long where the old one was said to be 1.89 – 20 inches less – although my measurements make the new model only 12 inches longer. Interior length and width are said to be the same, but you’d think the new seat design might free up an inch or two and so now the next-size-down Yak may fit a 6-footer like me snugly (better control), while the added stern buoyancy will trim the boat better with my 95kg. And a pointier bow (a bit more length there too) never did a boat any harm.

Knowing that NRS, Feathercraft and a few others are on their case, Alpacka haven’t been sitting on their paddles. They’ve substantially redesigned their boats with pointier bows and extended sterns acting rather like a skeg to improve tracking, speed and trim without affecting turning. The current rafts certainly have turning ability to spare, and tracking I find fine – the bow just yaws a bit from left to right but the boat goes straight enough.

However a bit more speed as a result of reduced yawing (zig-zagging) due to greater length, more centralised weight and added pointiness) would be nice for those long lochs. The extended back end acts like a bit of a skeg to counter the pivoting of the boat around the axis that is the paddler’s body. Interestingly, when I got my Llama I had an idea to fit a ‘trailing skeg’ like this to limit yawing; a plastic plate pinned between two arms coming off the back corners of the boat. I was told skegs make little difference but it could be easily done as an experiment, maybe on a Slackraft.
Another advantage of the extended back is the added buoyancy keeps the boat level with the weight more centralised. A benefit of this ought to be that the boat will stay more level and the floor under my butt will no longer be the lowest part of the boat and so less prone to grounding. You can see here how the regular Llama sits with me in it. It may mean one won’t have to get around to glue on an extra layer of floor to save the floor scuffing in the same place.

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