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Robson C-1 Finkenmiester

by Tim Marks, RCABC Master Paddler

   click to enlarge! It has been awhile since there has been a new plastic C-1 design,the last being Dagger's Atom. Unwrapping the new Robson Finki, one is a little overwhelmed with the size, particularly the front half. For those C-1 paddlers using converted kayaks of the river/play genre the size is considerably more than they are used to. Ok, it is big, but here is how it is shaped. The deck is high with huge camber (or arched), good for stable resurfacing. The bow has lots rocker with the fullness of a long creek boat. The bottom has a slight arch through most of its length with a crisp chine leading up to highly flared sides. The depth of the flaring sides combined with the max. beam of 29" gives the Finky an open boat feel to it. Behind the cockpit the stern quickly reduces in depth but maintains the arched deck. The stern is low enough volume to allow pivot turns for larger paddlers.
Having the opportunitiy to test the new C-1 for a couple of days I took it on a couple of class 3 rivers and a couple class 4 drops to see how I would like it compared to my converted creek boat and converted river/play C-1. The factory outfitting worked well for me at 205 lbs, 6' 4". A little foam glued on the hip grabbers and the bulkhead held me in, even for combat rolls. Smaller C-1 friends were not so fortunate and fooling around with the bulkhead foam would be required.
Not suprisingly, the Finki at 9' 2" has great speed; something current C-1 paddlers have forgotten how that feels. Paddling upstream, making ferries, going back to surf that wave, are all back on the easy to-do list.
As might be expected with the edges, it surfs great compared to the creek kayaks, but it will not shred like the smaller kayaks. On all but the short steep waves the Finki will still bring plenty of grins.
   click to enlarge! I was wondering how the Finki would perform creeking in the steeper, technical paddling that I currently paddle in a creek boat. Here the edges gave great control and precise manoeuvering. The slight arched hull, and flared sides provide confidence carving through boiling and gnarly eddy lines. The boat is not edgy and has incredible secondary stability. I began to look for the meanest, nastiest, boils and eddies to test the edginess and forgiveness compared to my converted creek boat and always felt secure with no suprises.
The extra length of the Finki might be an issue on some of the tightest moves but the extra speed and stability will reward you with some superb hole-punching ability (maybe enough so the super tight sneak line won't be required to avoid that terminator hole). The highly arched decks ensure control resurfacing. The long slender stern did require good technique to avoid stern endering out of drops. This was not hard to do as the boat boofs easily.

In Summary:

The Finki proved to be a very stable, forgiving, manoeuvrable C-1 to paddle on your hardest runs, class 4 and up as your abilities and nerves dictate.
It also appears ideal for those looking for their first C-1. Coming from OC-1 it has speed and glide that the canoeist expects. The flare and width will encourage confidence and rapid skill development. The marginally playful stern allows larger paddlers to pivot turns, etc. The excellent carving abililty livens up the surf wave and hones the paddlers skill in all the basic moves that make canoeing fun: peel outs, "S" turns, jet ferries, etc.. All with the thrill of sitting tall and throwing around those off side strokes.
The converted kayaks will have to do for the cartwheeling, aerial crowd, but Robson's Finkenmiester will provide a good alternative for river running the hard stuff and surfing the fast waves. And that once a year plastic slalom race in your area? Should be fun in a Finky.


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© copyright 2004 Tim Marks