Which model Shrike did you choose?
Shrike-R with topsides lowered by 60 mm

What modifications, if any, did you make to the design described in the build manual?
I have long legs and big feet so fitting into the original Shrike R would be uncomfortable/impossible. So I made a ‘square’ masik which gives me room under the deck to spread my knees wider apart. This allows for a more natural sitting position whilst keeping the overall deck height low.
I fitted hatches in the foot and day hatch bulkheads to allow access to the fore and aft compartments to fit airbags and drain any water ingress. Given the extremely low rear deck, I had to use the smallest hatch available for the day hatch bulkhead, and then cut it down further to make it fit.
I used 3D-printed maroske fittings to install deck elastics for stowing paddles etc. This is by far the easiest way of installing deck fittings – just drill the holes and glue them in.
I didn’t use any wire to join the panels together. I just used gaffer tape followed by super-glue and accelerant. In fact, most of the time I just used the superglue without the tape. This makes for a very quick build.

What is the weight of the finished kayak?
11.6 kg (25.6 pounds)

Anything you wished you had done differently?
Getting the plywood over the square masik was pushing it to the limit. It cracked in 4 points – by the foot bulkhead, near the masik and by the aft cockpit bulkhead. This required some ugly-looking repairs, hence why I got a friend to do the paint-job along the edges of the deck. On my test paddle, I had to rescue a friend who’d failed a roll, and their weight on my front deck caused it to crack along the stress-line where the curved section of the front deck ‘buckles’ into the flat section. I repaired this with glass tape. Touch wood, this has eliminated this weak point and the deck should now be as strong as any other Shrike. Although fitting the deck to this modified masik was a challenge, I’m glad I did it, as the boat fits around me perfectly and is comfortable on long paddles.
On the previous two CNC kayaks I’ve built, I’ve found it’s necessary to install substantial thigh-braces as the curved deck gives me nothing to press my knees against. On this boat, I decided to use the optional Ocean cockpit, in the hope that the closer masik would serve as thigh braces. However after having built the hull, I sat in it to measure up the required size and position of the masik and foot bulkheads and found that the masik needed to be just forward of my knees. So, with hindsight, I could have custom-built a keyhole cockpit which would have allowed easy entry/exit whilst the flat/low/square deck would have still been hugging my knees and thighs. That said, an Ocean cockpit is something new to play with, and after some initial teething problems, I can now get in and out of it very easily. Hopefully, the rounder shape will allow for a more water-tight seal with my spray-deck.

Any tips you’d like to suggest to future builders?
Using tape and superglue/accelerant to join the panels is fast and effective.
I found that the quickest way to achieve a nice finish is, as soon as you’ve got the decks on, cut the ‘edges’ off all fibreglass tape with a Stanley knife. Roller two or three epoxy coats onto the whole boat. Then flatten the whole boat with a random orbit sander. Finally, cut out the cockpit and hatch openings, fit the cockpit rim, paint a single layer of polyurethane varnish over the whole boat and fit the hatch covers.
I find it easier to complete the cockpit rim and upstand (including internal/external fibre-glassing) before attaching it to the boat. I clamp the cockpit rim over something to get the desired amount of curve in it, before superglueing the upstand to it so it protrudes above and below. Once you’ve filleted/glassed the upstand to the rim, you can saw off any upstand protruding above the rim and saw/plane/sand the base of the upstand so that it exactly fits onto the deck at the right height. You can then draw round it and accurately jigsaw the hole in the deck.

How does the kayak perform on the water?
It’s as fast as my original Shrike but it handles very differently! It has almost no secondary stability – if you lean off the centreline it will go over. This sounds terrible, but in fact you soon get used to it and I actually find it fun. My next job is to try it out in rough water and see how easy it is then. However… the whole point of this boat is its rolling capability, and it’s absolutely blown me away in this respect. Last night I put it through its paces for the first time and tried my first ever norsaq and hand rolls – both of which were so easy, I felt like I was cheating. I’m very confident that I can now learn all sorts of rolls that were previously out of my league, and hopefully I’ll be able to transfer these techniques back to my other boats.

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