OC1 Volare First Impressions and Reviews

Puakea Designs Volare OC1 ReviewGreetings all. Each time a new paddleboard canoe or surfski come out, the paddle world (including us!) can't wait to hear and read about first impressions. So consider this a running log of various paddlers we extremely respect as they test out new craft and share their personal thoughts and feedback. Please note, these are not paid sponsors, just regular folks who love to paddle, like all of us!

 

Volare OC1 by Puakea Designs

Paddler: Guillaume E. from San Diego
Location: Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, 8/20/2020
Conditions: 12-18 mph winds, south to north

I got to paddle the Volare in windy conditions yesterday. I did two loops going south straight (Jetty to Pescadero)

Conditions

  • First loop: Condition: stiff local wind (15 mph) from the south, some white caps, local wind swell, 1 to 2 ft (occasional 3ft), very short period. Some cross groundswell from the South West. Conditions varied from very technical to pretty well aligned.
  • Second loop: wind started easing, wind swell was still present. Conditions were a bit less technical than first run.

Upwind:

  • Canoe does not punch thru waves faces, instead it rides on top of them. So I experienced quite a bit of canoe slapping against the waves. It does not impact speed much (note that I usually ride a v1 that cut thru waves faces like a knife)
  • The characteristic “bouncing effect” from the Kahele is not present. That is a good thing
  • Ama is very stable. I played around going upwind at a 30 degree angle, with wind on the ama side. Ama came up a few times but the canoe was not twitchy (like the Ehukai can be) and fairly stable.

Downwind:

  • Canoe requires a bit more pressure on the blade to get on the wave than the Kahele (and less than the Ehukai), but once you are on the wave, it is a smooth ride.
  • Very stable downwind, I was able to lean right, forward, back, canoe responded well and did not twitch
  • Canoe keeps the speed pretty well, I was able to connect a few waves without killing myself.
  • As for upwind, canoe does not pearl much and stays on top of the wave.
  • On the first downwind,  when I went left on the wave to ride the shoulder, the canoe got away from me a few times and I ended up at 90 degree angle. I do not recall experiencing this on the Kahele on similar conditions.
  • This did not happen on the second run when the wind had eased.
  • Maybe the waves were a bit steeper on the first run, or maybe the stiffer wind pushed the tail sideway due to the higher profile and longer canoe (compared to Kahele)?

On the adjustable foot well:

  • Very spacious foot area and pretty comfortable, The adjustable track (on both side) rests against the side of your foot. It did not cause any discomfort but I am wondering if it can be a problem on very long paddle when the skin is soft.
  • When I lifted my feet (to readjust my position), the bottom flap of the foot plate would stick to my heel a bit. It did not cause the foot well to disengage but this is something that I noticed a few times (it drew my attention away from surfing)
  • On the foot plate, the pedal inflection point is much higher on the foot than on the Kahele: at the toe knuckle’ articulation instead of mid sole (shoe size 11)
  • One advantage is that you can really drive your foot down without risking to turn the canoe
  • One disadvantage is that I was understeering a lot as I am used to steer from my midsole and not from my toe. This is probably an issue that would go away as one becomes accustomed to the steering.
  • I am not sold on the adjustable foot well. Maybe it was my first outing, but my focus kept on getting drawn back to the foot well while paddling. Maybe it is the novelty of it, and eventually, I would ignore it, but on this first outing, it really took my attention away from surfing.

On boat wake riding - I got lucky and got a really nice boat wake to play with in the channel. Canoe picked up the speed well and I got a nice ride.

Additional notes - On the crappy tidal wave at the 5mph buoy. Maybe I am the only one doing this, but at the end practice, when I get around to the 5 mph buoy at the base of the Mission Bay Channel, I always challenge myself to try to surf a very crappy ripple. I noticed that even though I had to put a bit more pressure on the blade initially, it felt as taxing to surf the ripple as the Kahele would, but not more. So that is good thing.

Comfort - . I did not feel much difference from Kahele, except for the wider foot well (which is a plus). I only paddled for a bit more than 1 hour though. Canoes usually become uncomfortable after 2 hrs for me.

Speed - Interesting foot note, I just checked my average speed on the two downwind runs. On my first run, I was average 8.3 mph over .7 miles. This is the same pace as my fastest mile run (<7 mins per mile). Note that the conditions were very good for fast time: besides the stiff wind, there was a strong south to north current.

Overall opinion  - Downwind, it is fun, smooth and stable canoe for surfing that does not have the bouncing effect of the Kahele, nor the twitchiness of the Ehukai. It requires a bit more pressure than the Kahele to get on a wave, but not by a lot.
I am not sold on the adjustable foot plate but it has value if canoe is shared by several people of different heights.

It is a natural next evolution from the Ehukai and Kahele.

—-
[Thank you to Aqua Adventures for the canoe used in this review.]

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