This story featured in the 2013 Buyer’s Guide.
The Team: Marty Perry, Rowan Gloag and the Hurricane Riders
The Mission: Push the limits of sea-kayak performance
By Mike McKay
They call themselves the Hurricane Riders, and they delight in chasing the rough waters at the edge of sea kayak performance. They charge into frigid overhead surf and seal-launch from rocky overhangs into flooding tide races. To the uninitiated their exploits may seem reckless and irresponsible, but Marty Perry and Rowan Gloag see it another way. The duo at the core of the Vancouver-based Hurricane Riders crew has put plenty of thought into innovative ways to push the limits of the long boat. Borrowing whitewater paddling techniques has helped reduce certain risks, but often Perry and Gloag must find or make gear that meets their storm-riding style.
Paddle: Typical touring paddles can't take the beating that the Hurricane Riders' rugged rock-gardening subjects them to. "We were breaking paddle after paddle," Perry explains. "We realized we had to borrow more durable paddles from the creekboating world." They settled on the Werner Shogun and Saltwood Reggie, with stiff and powerful blades to withstand hard hits, and fatigue-minimizing foam cores suited for the longer flats.
Center Pillar: The riders regularly paddle in sea conditions capable of crushing a composite sea kayak. Squaring up to "dumpers"—large waves that crash over the paddler—requires a kayak you can trust to stay in one piece. The Hurricane Riders reinforce their boats with PVC center pillars.
Modified Cockpit: Perry and Gloag realized the need to be tight in the boat to avoid unwanted ejections. By using a system of outfitted hip pads, thigh braces, bulkhead foot pegs, and a durable back-band, the cockpit has the snug customized fit of a typical creekboat.
Whirlpool Bars: The boys rig their kayaks with custom "whirlpool" grab-lines fore and aft of the cockpit. The padded lines provide a potential swimmer an extra element of safety in big ocean surf.
Hull Design: The extreme sea conditions the riders seek out demand from a kayak both speed and maneuverability. The 16-foot-plus length of The Hurricane Riders' kayaks provides the former, but the latter is hard to achieve in boats of that length. Gloag worked with Sterling's Kayaks to develop a version of the company's Reflection model with more bow and stern rocker, resulting in more maneuverability on a wave. Gloag explains: "While it is fun to front surf, I enjoy spending as much time back surfing. This design allows me to do that with ease."