The Voyager Concept – What is it all about?
Posted by Robyn Dawson
The Voyager Concept – What are benefits of the V-Hull and Twin Fin set up?
Since we launched the 2021 Voyager range there has been a lot of interest in the technology, the reasons behind it and the benefits it presents. Red Paddle Co founder, John Hibbard thought it might help to share some of our thinking and findings behind the range and our thoughts for the future.
What is Touring?
Touring on a paddle board is becoming increasingly popular. We would class touring as paddling 3+ miles in a range of conditions. It might be an A to B paddle or an A to B to A route. It might include a range of wind and water conditions and it might involve carrying varying loads of equipment on the board. Building a board that made all of this as easy as possible was our mission with the V-Hull Voyager.
The Simple Facts
There are some simple, easy to understand points around board shape. The Longer and thinner a board is the faster it will be. The wider it is, the more stable it will be. When touring on a paddle board you ideally want a mix of speed and stability. Paddling distances is tiring so while a narrow, long board would, on paper be faster, when you take into consideration water conditions, tiredness, equipment loading and paddling ability you need a board that can handle it all.
This is where both the Twin fin and V-Hull comes into play. Let’s break down the 2 concepts
The V-Hull really comes into its own when you are faced with chop and /or side winds. By altering your position on the board, you can alter the angle at which the V—Hull is presented to the water. When paddling in side winds you can improve the tracking of the board and avoid being pushed sideways by standing further forward on the board. Doing this engages more of the waterline length of the board into the water and stops it from being pushed sideways. The V-Hull allows the board to cut through the chop more effectively, keeping up the glide speed and removing any slamming normally associated with these conditions. When paddling into chop the V-Hull effectively cuts through the chop, again allowing you to maintain control and glide. In completely flat water you can step slightly further back to lift the nose a few cm’s and presenting more of the flat hull to the water. Standing a little further forward though does make for some captivating displays of the water-shedding off the side of the V-Hull.
So, when trimmed correctly i.e. you stand in the right position, the V-Hull affords you more control and speed.
During the development of the V-Hull concept, we utilised both real-world paddling conditions using a variety of paddlers. We also tested it in the COAST Lab at Plymouth University where we could really drill into its performance in a range of conditions and build some data sets that we could compare with our real-world findings.
Using multiple fins on boards is not new. There are various reasons why adding fins to a board can alter the performance of the board. In the case of the Voyager boards, the Twin Fins give multiple advantages.
Tracking – The twin fins on the Voyager are ‘toe in’. This means the front of the fin is angled slightly more towards the centre line of the board. While this set-up has a very small effect on ultimate speed, it is more than made up for by the fact that it allows the board to paddle straighter. As a result, it considerably reduces the need to change the side you are paddling on. On average you can continue to paddle on one side at least 3 times as long as a single fin board of the same dimensions. This saves energy and improves long-distance efficiency when touring. The tracking is even more noticeable when you start running the board with shorter fins for shallow water exploration. 2 shallow fins give much greater tracking than 1 shallow fin.
Stability – The greater fin area given by 2 fins compared to 1 fin improves the stability of the board. This is most noticeable when you load the board up with gear, especially if the gear is on the back of the board.
Durability and redundancy – When touring, especially longer distance touring over multiple days or even just where you are paddling away from your launch point, the durability of your fin system is of paramount importance. Anyone who has paddled a board without a fin will agree.
When loading a board up with gear on land there is a lot of load going through the fin and fin box, especially if the gear is on the back of the board. The twin fin gives a stable platform to load the board and dramatically reduces the load going through the fin and the fin box and therefore removes the risk of breaking a fin or a box.
Breakages are always possible and even the strongest system can fail due to unexpected events – worse things happen at sea. Having two fins on your board doubles your durability count and gives you a redundancy option. If you were to break or lose one fin for example, the Voyager boards will paddle extremely well with just one fin fitted, even though it is set off to one side. Breaking a fin on a single fin board is a big issue and while you can carry spares, fitting a fin when out on the water, far from land or away from a suitable landing point is extremely difficult if not impossible and a huge drain on energy. The twin fin setup is both safer and more durable. Twin Fins give you peace of mind like no other system.
Is the Voyager V-Hull Faster than the previous model?
This is a question we get asked all the time. And there is no quick, definitive answer.
If you were sprint paddling on flat, still water and had impeccable paddling technique, a full tank of energy and brilliant board riding skill then a single fin version is likely to be maybe 0.2 -0.5 mph hour faster over a 100-meter course. Adjust any of those variables – skill of paddler, water conditions and wind conditions then you are likely to find the V-Hull version to be quicker. This though is not the way the Voyager boards are designed or expected to be used. Over a long day of paddling the ultimate answer is that you are likely to have a better experience on the Twin Fin, V-Hull Voyager for all the reasons mentioned above.
What is the future of the Voyager?
We continue to test and tweak all aspects of the Voyager concept. There is still more juice to be squeezed out of the V-Hull and Twin Fin concepts and our focus on continual prototyping allows us to experiment and evolve our thinking. It’s an exciting time to be a SUP paddler.
Words, John Hibbard