The Barrel - sea trial

Fine on a reach, gybes require some adjustment to technique
Rearward barrel position copes well with lumpy sea
Some minor interference upwind in these breezier conditions
Test complete

Barrel Carrier trial 1 was a success in that the concept seemed sound. Trial 2 involved a couple of minor geometry adjustments. All good so far, but neither of these trials give any real insight into how this design would perform in wind and sea, so I borrowed myself a proper kayak barrel and waited for a suitable day.

My winter testing island - Minorca - was delivering typical weather for the time of year: howlingly windy or totally still, and very little of anything inbetween. Finding a day to get out on the raceboard was proving difficult. Eventually there was an opportunity, and at the end of February, as the Tramontana wind eased, I strapped on the barrel, loaded it up with a rock wrapped in a coat (very poorly insulated these barrels), and sailed up to the waves crashing around the mouth of Fornells Bay.

The wind was definitely towards the uncomfortable side of manageable and sail position was a bit more raked back than previously, so upwind the foot of the sail was just touching the barrel, but nothing too bothersome. Off the wind sailing was fine, on a true downwind the sail is a bit open and it is your leg that just brushes against the barrel; on a close reach the sail just touches the barrel.

The sensation of being on a big powerful board is certainly increased when you add a few extra kilos. On one occasion I did a pretty decent nose dive into the wave in front and the extra weight certainly contributed to powering through. The nose of the board really gets a working in these conditions. My barrel, sat over my back foot, was definitely at the right end of the board.

I considered that a fall and board capsize would be very possible in these conditions, and that a capize could put some additional pressures on the carrier system. I have a few ideas for beefing things up a bit more.

Rock and coat emerged dry and unscathed. As did barrel and barrel carrier. The rock weighed in at 5.8kg and the coat would have added a bit more. That means - with the barrel and a small back pack - I can definitely and comfortably sail with at least 10kg. Sufficient for staying independant for a day or two at a time when necessary.