Sue and I finally had the opportunity to take ole’ Betsie out to roll for a bit. After talking to a few folks about the older design I was a little concerned how it would shake out. I didn’t really need to be of course, but it’s fair to say, that you do have to modify your approach a bit for lay-backs… just a bit.
The Valkayrie is a dead-easy roller. Our mid-90s composite is however, slightly different than the one’s AL’s putting out at Betsie Bay Kayaks these days. When it comes to rolling, we’re told the big difference is how the back combing is set up. I went back and looked at photos that I’ve taken of Betsie Bays in the past and I can’t quite see the change other than it does seem to be a little less sharp, unless of course the back deck as a whole has been lowered.
I found on our older version I had to slide forward in the cockpit a bit to get my back down on the kayak. From a seated position I couldn’t quite get all the way down. Not bad, or particularly unusual, but it did remind me how cool it is that I can fully lay back in my Rockpool Alaw Bach right from the seat with no fiddling. (Especially for a bulkier boat by comparison.) A bit of a recess on the back combing in Betsie Bay would make it perfect!
That said, with a bit of a shuffle forward it’s no problem to lay back on the Valkyrie. Otherwise the kayak just loves to spin. The older model has an almost flat deck and spins like a log.
Sue, who had just learned her first roll over the winter in a NDK Romany, jumped in and tried her first roll since the snow was still on the ground. She came right up! In fact the second time, she nearly window-shaded the beast. She noted right away that the Betsie was a dream to roll compared to the Romany.. (Well, it should be!)
I spent a bit of time playing as well, a couple forward rolls, side sculling, chest scull & recoveries all went easily. All in All, even this older Valkyrie is a great kayak. I just wish it had more deck-lines on the front so I could park my paddle when I’m stick/hand rolling. The newer versions have solved this too. Hmmm, maybe we just need to get a new one?
*photos 1,3,4 by Sue Johansen.