It’s back! Kayaking’s premier event in Australia by the NSW Seakayak Club and I can’t wait. I love Rock n Roll. This is my fourth and it’s back at Bateman’s Bay. My first RnR there was a pretty solitary affair for me despite the numbers but I enjoyed it a whole lot and this year’s shindig will be better than ever. The main reason for this is that the Hunter Kayak Klan will be there in strength. So better watch out you City paddlers, the Hunter invasion will be on. Even good ol’ Gnarlydog from the Cane Toad state will be an honourary Hunter boy since he made the mistake of letting his curiosity get the better of him and joined the klan.
Naturally, I’ll give a thorough Post Mortem (maybe a bad choice of words) complete with loads of photos but a month out I’d like to get some feed back from readers as to how they feel about RnR and what sort of stuff they’d like to see happen. I know Henry van der Kolk had some interesting views about how beginners are treated and what he’d like to see. Many agree with him but he got short shrift from the committee when the issues were raised formally. His view is that Grade 1 paddlers should be given the opportunity to push their limits while they had access to so many top instructors but the committee seemed overly risk-averse and ensures beginners go on trips up creeks and fairly soft-on leisure cruises. This is a golden opportunity missed to bring some experience to these people and add strength to the club.
I also look forward to the trade shows and Expedition Kayaks will again be platinum sponsors. I hope there are other strong trade stands there. My fondness for EK is well known and the connection our klan shares with EK is very strong but the industry needs a vibrant commercial aspect and it’s pretty poorly developed. The last few years has seen the overwhelming dominance of Mirage shattered by the rampant onslaught of Impex and Valley boats from EK. Now EK has taken control of the market by getting all the boats we read about from oversees such as SKUK, Rockpool, Trax and Tahe. If I were Mirage I would make damned sure I had a great stand at each and every RnR. I would also ensure I had something new to unveil their. Peter Clark’s Kayaking World ought to do the same. This is the big show you guys and you are losing the retail war big time. Sure the Mirages will be well represented but a beginner paddler looking to upgrade their Prijons will almost certainly end up with a Valley once Rob and Mark get a crack at them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for EK but as a retailer and marketer, I can’t help face-palming at the complete disregard their competition has for basic small business marketing.
Enough of business stuff, I’m looking forward to having a go at some of the new boats on offer such as the Zegul and revisiting the Rockpool GT. If I get in early enough I may not have any need for my own boat! Hmmm, no, the Assateague needs to see the Toll-gate islands as well and my new comfort mods courtesy of Clark Rubber will be very handy here.
So, how about some feedback on RnR. What does everyone think? What are you going to paddle? And will the HKK party rival EK’s traditional Friday night shebang?