The Gumotex Thaya is set to replace the 4.1-m Solar 3, but with some added width and a drop-stitch (d/s) floor, like some Sea Eagles, Advanced Elements and Aqua Glides. This is the first of Gumotex’s D/S-floor boats, more are sure to follow. They say the Swing Evo is next for 2020.
Drop-stitch fabric tech has moved on enough to make the complicated hand assembly of pressure-vulnerable I-beam floors (left) redundant. A D/S floor is a flat panel with effectively 3-4 zillion ‘I-beams’, all spreading the pressure load evenly to constrain the form into a plank shape, but at a much higher pressure than an I-beam floor can handle. In an IK high pressure = a more rigid hull = better response.
What Gumo have done is combine a D/S floor with their durable, flexible and environmentally right-on Nitrilon rubber fabric. The regular, normal-pressure 3psi side tubes don”t need the higher pressures I run on my adapted Seawave because the 7psi (0.5 bar) D/S floor greatly aids longitudinal rigidity (see action video below).
Gumotex’s new tag line rubs it in: ‘Made in EU [read: ‘not China’], made from rubber [read: ‘not PV – spit – C’].
The slick promo video below suggests something revolutionary, but combining D/S with Nitrilon can’t be that much different from doing the same with PVC. It will simplify or speed up assembly, make floors less prone to rupture and may even eliminate the PRV necessary for protecting I-beam floors from internal ruptures when they overheat in the sun.
One positive thing about I-beam floors is the parallel I-tubes (left) probably don’t hurt tracking (even without a skeg). They also enable the desirable curved hull profile of a boat rather than the flat floor of a barge (for the moment D/S panels can only be flat or maybe with a slight curve). A high-pressure barrel pump to inflate up to 7 psi or more is not essential. A thin barrel pump like the £25 Decathlon item (right) works best to deliver high pressure for D/S boats. Payload ratings range between 230- and 275kg and the three basic, movable seats and footrests are also made from D/S panels. Why? For the backrest and footrest that might make sense; not sure how comfy a D/S seat will be after an hour or two. Still, you don’t have to pump them up to the max (so why use D/S?)
I’ve never tried one, but I do wonder how a flat-floored D/S IK might handle in windier, choppier conditions where an IK isn’t exactly a hydrofoil at the best of times. A flat, raft-like floor will be stable, sure, but it will roll and pitch about more. Also, according to the specs (link below) the Thaya is a disappointing 6 or 9cm (3.5″) wider than the all-tube Solar 3. Great for family-friendly stability; not so good for solo paddling speed and efficiency. My Seawave is 2cm narrower than a Solar 3 and, with the usual care getting in, stability is not an issue. Out at sea this boat will be swamped long before I’m tipped out. But then again, the near-rigid floor may cancel out the drawbacks of the greater width. A Thaya weighs nearly 10% less than a Solar 3 too, and with the plain floor will roll up more compactly.
For most recreational, flatwater users as pictured above left, the new Thaya ought to be a nice family boat, but then so was a Solar 3. The Thaya’s rrp is £999. While it lasts, the Solar 3 goes for £730, both prices before discounts.