Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spraydeck Rant

I'm pleased to report that we have lots of exciting new product filtering thru during '07. It seems like everything's changed chez Nookie and the product range, of course, is where most of you out in the wild are going to notice the difference. What's more important than the changes, tho, is everything that hasn't changed. We aren't in the business of randomly superceding products that consistently outperform the competition, so in many instances it's just a case of restyling an already superb product to keep it in line with the current brand "look".

That isn't the case with the Nookie spraydeck range. We contend that the outgoing line has always been super-dry, super reliable, and less prone to damage than the competition. However, the boat manufacturers (see earlier rant) have been playing silly b***ers with their cockpit sizes and hence we felt we had to revise our sizing right across the board. Combining that with the future needs of several other incoming technologies and a new production facility that can make our Hardflex" reinforcing layer have even smaller gaps in its armour than ever, we ended up with a substantially revised version of a product that was already almost perfect. Which is a bit weird, but that's what's happened.

Now, I know there are gonna be people out there saying "What's so special about Nookie decks? All shockdecks are much the same aren't they? Aren't the new rubber rand decks loads better anyway?". To which I say read on, no, and no.

Anyone who's used y2k+ Nookie decks will know that they are easy enough to fit to all whitewater boats, super-dry, and basically never leak or blow if fitted correctly. It's very hard to get a deck to work this well, and it relies on careful sizing and quality/materials control. We are firmly committed to pulling this off. Or should I say on?

In addition to this our durability is second to none. Kevlar decks? Completely flawed concept in our view. Kevlar is friction/abrasion resistant, not puncture resistant. You can put a sharp rock thru a Kevlar deck as easily as any other. And Kevlar doesn't stretch significantly, which makes it THE most pointless material for a spraydeck. Your Kevlar deck will only fit perfectly on a cockpit the same shape as the deck - so on most boats the performance will be massively compromised. Furthermore, because it doesn't stretch, a Kevlar deck will be more prone to blowing even on a boat it fits perfectly. So we don't use Kevlar. We use our Hardflex layer which is abrasion resistant, paddle-pinch resistant, and puncture resistant, but still stretchy. Cool, huh? Some other decks out there have a thin screen print on them to imitate this reinforcement. Not the same. We offer a product lifetime warranty on everything we sell, and we can't do this unless we make sure everything's solid.

The concept of rubber rand decks isn't new. In fact it was the prevalent technology in the early 90's. It can work adequately but most of the ones we've tried are either a bit leaky or really difficult to put on. Or both. And in combination with Kevlar they are, in our opinion, expensive and useless. So we're not making rubber rand decks this year.

Of course a spraydeck is such a crucial piece of equipment that every paddler should try out all the options and make a personal choice. Don't listen to me. I'm lucky - I get to have the exact decks I want to paddle in, ones that won't let me down when I'm getting trounced in a giant hole, subbing-out in my squirtboat, or when 30' of ocean decides to fall on top of me. Believe me, if it wasn't working right I'd go right home and design another one. Final tip - don't buy based on the fact that your mate likes his deck - it might not fit as well on your boat even if they're both supposedly "keyhole" cockpits (thanx boat manufacturers). Unless it's a Nookie one of course ;)