Seth Chapelle 02/12/2016 | Posted in 2016 WW events, Creeking, Event Coverage, Events, Karma Unlimited, rivers, Whitewater, Wrap Ups, WW Disciplines
Jackson Karma Unlimited (UL) C-1 – A Years Review
2016 marked my first year to join the long boat “gang”. I had borrowed long boats occasionally in the past but never had one to call my own. I received a beautiful Jackson Karma Unlimited (UL) in the Aztec color (Purple/blue mix) early this year. I have been racing in creek races for many years but only in the short boat class. I was excited to try out long boat racing and to have the chance to be challenged by higher speeds on the water and a longer boat to control.
My Karma UL arrived a couple days before the Top Yough race in the beginning of April. I took the boat out for one attainment session and then straight to the race. For those who may not know, I paddle C-1 (decked-canoe) almost exclusively; as such, my UL is a C-1. I was slightly anxious about racing a boat that I had only paddled once in class II whitewater. I have paddled the Top Yough many, many times and was confident that I would be safe but wasn’t sure if I’d be dialed in to style race lines. Upon arriving at the Top Yough on race day, there was time for one practice lap in the morning. The Top Yough starts off with a 30-35 foot class IV slide called Swallow Falls. I immediately felt very comfortable in the UL and was amazed with the great stability it had on the bumpy slide. I felt right at home. The UL handled very similar to my regular Karma.
I was all smiles on the way down the Top Yough that day. The UL proved to be very maneuverable despite its length. I was able to steer the boat where I wanted to and was pleased with the ease of correction when I would start to veer off my line. The overall stability continued to shine as I experimented with different river features and moves. There are many boofs on the Top Yough and I was quickly launching my Long Boat quite nicely off little rocks and drops. The UL also demonstrated to be excellent at riding over waves and holes and maintaining speed. The overall speed and acceleration of the UL felt very solid as well.
After completing my practice lap on the Top Yough I was already in love with my new long boat. I was super excited to race the UL that day and for many more races in the future. My race run went very smoothly and I was happy to stick my lines cleanly. I had raced the Top Yough in years past in a short boat. The difference in speed in both flat water and rapids was phenomenal. Paddling a long boat is really FUN!
I continued my season by competing in the inaugural Cuyahoga Falls race in Ohio a couple weeks later. I raced in both short and long boat and again was so pleased with how my UL handled. I felt much faster moving through the course. The course was fairly short and the race only took about 5 minutes start to finish. The final section of the course was rocky and had potential to hang up or spin out. I did get hung up and spun out in my long boat run which cost me significant time. Despite my mishap in my long boat run, I still finished faster than my short boat run which didn’t have a hang-up/spinout. Below is a link to detailed article about the Cuyahoga Falls Race event by Bobby Miller. And a highlight video that has a few shots of me.
I raced in many more races throughout the year including the Upper Yough, Great Falls, Captain Thurmond, Upper Gauley, and King of New York (Beaver and Raquette) races. With each new racecourse and different types of waterfalls and rapids, I continued to be very happy with the performance and handling of my UL. I also enjoyed training by paddling local class II-III runs and doing attainments, flat-water drills, ferries and eddy turns. I could feel my strength and endurance improving throughout the season.
In summary, the Jackson Karma UL has proven to be an excellent C-1 long boat for me. Stability is essential for me to be comfortable in any boat as a C-1 due to the higher center of gravity. The UL has great primary and secondary stability and is very easy to roll as well. In a C-1, it is also important to have good control since you are using a single bladed paddle. I have been very impressed with the UL’s maneuverability and overall performance. Lastly, a long boat is intended to be fast, and I have found the speed and acceleration to be excellent in the UL. I look forward to continuing to train and increase my endurance, speed, and racing skills. I’m excited to compete in many races next season.
If you are interested in a long boat, I would definitely recommend trying the Jackson Karma UL! Happy paddling everyone! ☺