Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rockpool Alaw Bach in Carbonite 2000

At the Scottish Canoe show in Perth, I saw a very interesting kayak on the Kari-Tek stand. It was a shiny Rockpool Alaw Bach, though it lacked the glitter finish. Closer inspection showed that it was made out of a moulded material called Carbonite 2000 that is used in the aircraft industry. This is a thermoformed trilaminate of ABS plastic and acrylic. It gives a stiff, light hull with a high degree of UV, impact and abrasion resistance. It is said to be easily repairable but I do not have details. Kayaks in Carbonite 2000 are likely to be up to 20% cheaper than traditional, hand lay up, GRP composite Kayaks. Eddyline in the USA first introduced sea kayaks in this material in 1996.

The moulding machines are ultra expensive but the labour cost in producing each kayak is low. Clearly the accuracy with which the mould reproduces the original design will be paramount to the performance of these kayaks but this looks like a glimpse of the future for UK sea kayaks.

Given Mike Webb's acknowledged guru status in the World of GRP kayaks, I think it very significant that Rockpool, of all British manufacturers, was showing a kayak in Carbonite 2000. I understand that other UK manufacturers, like P&H and Valley, are also seriously considering this production method.


  1. Interestingly I paddled an Eddyline kayak just a few weeks ago and was impressed with the finish, both inside and out. It does seem to be light and relatively abrasion resistant compared with GRP. If you've seen one Alaw Bach, then more - lots more - are in the pipeline methinks...

  2. Isn't this the stuff they imprisoned Han Solo in ?

    (too geeky?)



  3. I've paddled and Eddyline Fathom for 2 years and I love it. I admit the material was a huge attraction although the kayak is terrific to paddle. The Carbonlight gives me a light boat (around 43 lbs) thats easy to keep looking new. Its taken its fair share of scratches but the material stands up to a lot of tough rocks and the overall finish is terrific. It allows lots of neat mouldings too. Eddyline has great workmanship but I'm sure other manufacturers will manage the process too.

  4. Hello Michael and Euan, yes I have seen Eddyline kayaks and have been impressed with the construction and finish.

    Tom, that's the stuff!

  5. As a Eddyline dealer I am STOKED to see that Rockpool is having Eddyline make these kayaks. It's a total answer to prayer for all of us. I have paddled a Fathom quite a bit and loved the layup. I beat it on rocks and drug it across the ground. The only downside was the over all performance. I paddle a poly Avocet now but I always said if Eddyline ever made a serious rough water boat that I would be the first in line to buy one. Now under a different name they have, and I will be getting mine as soon as I can! As to your comment on Repairs, Carbonlite is the easiest material to repair that i have worked with. If the boat where to crack you would drill out the ends of the cracks with a small bit, grind out the crack a little bit and then use a two part plastic weld to fill in the crack. You can use fiberglass on the inside of the boat to reinforce the repair, but i usually don't and I have never ever had a issue. Finally the future is now!

  6. I was paddling with a friend who has an Eddyline. He bashed the nose against a rock - not super hard just a bit careless. It snapped to nose off the boat and the Carbonlite shattered (big hole). Almost a year later he has not managed to arrange a repair. He had to arrange import of materials from USA, but locals are not familiar with how to use it.

  7. Thanks Anon, it just goes to show that new materials may have advantages but can also have problems.