The award-winning Gumotex Thaya is basically a 4.1-m Solar 3 with some added width and a drop stitch (d/s) floor, like some Sea Eagles, Advanced Elements and Aqua Glides.
Drop stitch fabric tech seems to have moved on enough to make the complicated hand assembly of pressure-vulnerable I-beam floors (right) redundant. A d/s floor is a flat panel with effectively a zillion ‘I-beams’, all spreading pressure loads evenly to constrain the form and at much higher pressure than an I-beam floor. High pressure = a more rigid hull. What Gumo have done is combine d/s with their durable, flexible and environmentally right-on Nitrilon rubber. The regular, low-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 will greatly aid longitudinal rigidity.
Gumotex’s new tag line rubs it in: ‘Made in EU [read ‘not China’], made from rubber [read: ‘not PV – spit – C’].
The slick video below suggests something revolutionary, but combining d/s with Nitrilon can’t be that much different from doing the same with PVC. It should greatly simplify or speed up assembly and make floors less prone to rupture, and may even be able to eliminate the PRV necessary for protecting I-beam floors from internal ruptures when they overheat in the sun.
One good 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 a barge (for the moment d/s panels can only be flat), and a bulky high-pressure barrel pump (right) to inflate up to 7psi or more is not needed. That’s fine for lakeside day-paddles, not so handy for travels. Payload ratings range between 230 and 275kg and they say the 3 basic, movable seats and footrests are also made from d/s panels. For the backrest that might make sense; not sure how comfy d/s will be to sit on.
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 about more. Also, according to the specs (link below) the Thaya is 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 when the 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 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 is a Solar 3, while they keep making it. The Thaya is out in early 2019. A price shown in Poland adds up to £810. Recent UK prices for the Solar 3 are just under £700.