The Story – With airlines developing increasingly strict policies limiting the dimensions of oversize luggage, it has become a frustrating (and expensive) process to fly with our 3.5m long slalom boats.
The Solution – Try chopping a boat in half! Andy Philips, the brain & manpower behind Composite Creations, was the guy for the job. Composite Creations creates canoes & kayaks, custom composite parts and offers composite training workshops. He is unbelievably skilled and there’s nobody else I’d rather have on board for the challenge. By cutting the slalom boat exactly in the middle, the boat would measure 1.75 m, short enough to fit within Air Canada’s over sized baggage restrictions.
The Strategy – Build a vertical flange around the rim on both pieces of the boat, which would bolt together to create a water-tight joint that wouldn’t flex at all.
The Materials – The flange is made of carbon with a foam core, which allows the bolts to be tightened without crushing the flange. It is attached to the hull with an epoxy made by MSG Resins in Germany, the same resin that Composite Creations use on their aircraft projects. Needless to say, it is light and super strong!
The test – At the beginning of February, Andy cut my older slalom boat (The Lady Lizard) to test out the joint system.
After a couple modifications, the test boat was a success! This video shows the strength of the cut, with no flexing at all.
The final cut – The next step was to cut my new racing boat, with the goal of completing it for easier flying to travel to a training camp in Pau, France, at the end of February. My dad, being the inventor he is, volunteered to drive my new boat down to Composite Creations (personally I think he was just excited to chop a brand new boat in half…)
The flange was traced, cut out, glued to the boat, and then sanded down to optimize comfort.
Comfort – Once completed, it was time to adapt outfitting to accommodate the flange. I stuck strips of velcro in front of and behind the flange, to which my two-piece ankle blocks are attached. They are the same height and shape as my previous ankle blocks, reaching the top of the flange to create a level support surface.
My seat is also secured using adhesive velcro, making it removable to facilitate access to the bolts.
Finally – I’m currently attending a training camp in Pau, France, so I’ve had the opportunity to take the boat apart, put it together, paddle it in the pool, on the flatwater & in whitewater!
It takes about 30 minutes to put together, with silicone in between the flange and a small bead along the outside. It’s watertight, solid and comfortable. I cover the seam with one piece of electrical tape as a precaution, to prevent the silicone from being scraped off. All in all, the system weighs about 500 grams.
This development is revolutionizing the way we travel with boats, opening up possibilities for endless adventures! A big thank you goes to my dad for his initiative, creativity, 5am sketches and the insane amount of time he devoted to the project. A huge, huge thank you to Andy Philips and the whole team at Composite Creations for the countless hours spent sketching, designing, experimenting and building in the shop. These guys embraced the challenge and made sure it was a success from start to finish.