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Plastex Fighter 2011 review

from an intermediate paddler point of view.

The 20-12-2010 I received my brand new Plastex Fighter 2011 Racing construction, all blue.

First impression:

I'd say that the feeling I had as soon as I saw the Fighter out of its package has been a little... weird. Basically I was expecting some changes respect to the 2009 and 2007 Plastex boats, but honestly, what was in front of my eyes was something really different and I was something like a little bit confused. The front deck has an aggressive trapezoid shape, with two sharp cuts to give space for the paddle water insertion. Basically what is expected from state of the art Olympic K1. The rear deck is rounded; I think to increase the robustness. The main shock I had was due to the hull shape. I was waiting for an extreme optimisation of the rounded shape and hull bending lines to further reduce the wetted surface and parameter like that.... what I saw was completely different. The hull doesn't have a circular active section, It has a trapezoid shaped stern, a well pronounced mid boat line with a soft V shape from bow to stern along the entire boat. This is not what is expected.... this boat doesn't have the shape I am used to see in a K1 to minimise the wetted surface. I was there, 300Km far from home just for that boat.... what should I do. I decided to get it, bring it at home and see how it behaves in the water.

Fig_01: Fighter 2011 overview

After some preliminary consideration:

After some time needed to digest a little bit the surprise for the hull, I take a look at the boat again. The construction is very solid, really stiff despite of the fact that my boat is only a Racing construction. It is well finished, the seam-line is really thin, realised with a thin drop of resin, I think. The cockpit is strongly glued and sealed. I had some problems at the cockpit with my previous Plastex Warrior. I think the issue has been fixed. Looking at the boat from the top view, I noticed that it is really narrow at the bow, more than my actual K1, The lateral and stern bending lines are very smooth and mild. The impression is that they are tying to minimise the water line bending shape. Looking the boat from the side, I see that the hull has a lower rocker than what I am used to see. The hull bottom line is more straight lined. The bottom has a continuous mild rocker line, but the bow, has a double broken shape in the first 15cm. Another surprise. Unfortunately, in my Racing construction it is clearly visible the carbon-kevlar material, that is the inner layer. I would have preferred the inner material to be a thin black fiberglass layer to hide the carbon-kevlar tissue as in my Warrior. Both are Racing construction, but the Warrior has been made like this.

Fig_02: Rocker comparison: Fighter 2011 vs. Warrior 2005

Fig_03: Fighter 2011: BOW and STERN

First on-field impression:

After 3 days of snow, the whether get better and finally the time has come to try on field my new Fighter. After 15 minutes of trimming, I get in the boat and start for a ride. As expected the stability feeling is different. After all, this is the first time I get in, and the hull shape is so different. The stability seems to be a little better, at zero speed or if I move a little keeping the boat horizontal. If I bend it too much the boat is a little bit tippier: the stability level behaviour versus the bending angle is sharper, in my opinion. The seat platform seems to be 1 o 2 cm higher from the water line respect to my Warrior. I take 2 o 3 minutes to get used to the Fighter, I do some position changes in the water just to get in confidence with it.... and "GO", I start for my first ride. The water is calm and quiet, no waves at all; perfect condition for a K1 test. It comes out immediately how the boat seems to have a reduced pitching. Or better, if a movement is induced on the boat by the paddling vertical force, it is the entire boat that goes a little up and a little down, without pitching. Maybe this is the effect of the reduced rocker or the little wider stern. I take a look at the front wave generated by the bow edge.... it is low! Am I going that slowly? NO, according with my GPS, I'm at cruise speed and the wave generated by the bow is really lower than what I am used to. Is this due to the fact that the bow is sharp as a knife, or to the strange double broken bow edge? Maybe the first bow part does some kind of smooth or gentle water entering, reducing the front wave height. Despite of the stern width, the boat has a good tracking, a little less compared with my old good Warrior 2005. Also I have the impression that the boat glides even for the slower speed. Gliding is a constant increasing process, but I feel the best increase and benefit just above 12Km/h.

Fig_04: BOW and STERN sharpness and surface finishing

First workout, first result:

But stop talking about crap and let's see how it behaves on a test. After a couple of Km of warming up, I decide to try it on a 10,000m using, as usual, my GPS as time-distance reference. The water temperature is 4^C. I start with a constant pace trying to optimise the effort all along the 10Km. The boat slides, I'm gathering the test speed, the stability is not a problem if I strive to keep the boat perfectly horizontal, the front wave is still lower than the usual at this speed and the paddling position is good... go boy... go... push on that paddle, lad! Result: with the Fighter I did 21 seconds better than my previous test on the 10Km distance, I took 1 week ago with my Olympic Warrior 2005. As I said I'm not a professional paddler, therefore my speed on the 10Km is not that high, but just to have an idea with a 11.5-12.0 Km/h speed I gained something in the range of 1%. I'm starting to think that all the odd thinks I've seen on this boat, are there for some reason....

Fig_05: Footrest, Unique registration number, SEAT and Cockpit

Personal overall consideration:

The boat stays stable and gives a comfort feeling if you strive to keep it as horizontal as possible, without rolling it. The same is for the total amount of wave generated by the boat. The more the boat stays firm and horizontal, the less you generate waves. If you bend it a little bit too much, you must use the rudder to adjust your tracking. But I think is just a question of get use to it. The BOW and STERN edges are sharp like a knife (only 2mm) I think the bow is such narrow and its entry angle is so low to reduce the overall wave generated by the boat. The bow seems more similar to a "K 1 and a half" that a K1. The double bending at the bow front aims to reduce the front wave height, providing a gentle impact with the water. The rear hull is a little flat to support the narrow bow and to provide gliding effect either for slow speeds. All this stuff together seems to indicate that Plastex strives to produce a hull which has an "apparent" or effective length greater that 5.2m. Due to the little bit wider stern, the rear wave could be a little bigger.... but, overall, there is some gain in reducing the front wave. As known, the total boat drag could be divided in 2 main categories: frictional (proportional to the boat surface) and residual (proportional to the total waves the boat produces). In my opinion, Plastex acts in a way to reduce the wave or residual drag value having a little compromise with the surface or frictional drag. I might be wrong, but you prove it. By the way, if you look at the pressure graph distribution for a boat, it is easy to notice that the maximum value is exactly on the bow attach point. Maybe optimising that part is not that a bad idea, thought.

Fig_06: active section at BOW: Fighter 2011 vs. Warrior 2005

Fig_07: active section at STERN: Fighter 2011 vs. Warrior 2005

Summarising the Plastex Fighter 2011:

PROs: CONs: Not that elegant carbon-kevlar tissue visible through the cockpit The FULL footrest is not perfectly FULL. The foot-strap could be finished a little better. I needed to enlarge the foot space Reduced residual drag, lowering the wave height Increased stability feeling Better paddling position: +1 or 2cm higher with the same stability Pitching reduction

In the end, your paddle companions could argue a little about your new boat, if you show them your brand new Fighter's hull, but at the end of your workout with them, it will be you to laugh.... or at least, you will be a little bit fresher than they are.

Daniele Vimercati.

39 years old electronic engineer living in Milan, Italy; he began to paddle in 2009.


Plastex Fighter 2011 review

6 pages

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Plastex Fighter 2011 review