A Look at Stellar’s New Apex K1 Trainer/K1 Para K1
I have owned many boats, mostly surf skis as you know. However, I have also owned a few K1’s and K1 trainers during my paddling career. One of my most fun flat water races that I have done, was the 2012 19 mile Run of The Charles in Boston, Massachusetts. The race can be grueling mainly due to the 6 portages, one of which is a half mile long. Nevertheless, the last year I raced it, I was in a Touring K1 as some folks call them or simply K1 Trainers. They are designed for calm waters like lakes, rivers, canals, etc, since they have no bulkheads, have tiller steering, and tiny rudders. Some paddlers including myself have paddled them in flatter ocean conditions since they are stable for experienced paddlers but this is not recommend due to safety reasons.
These boats at 17ft with generous beams and are set up like a full on K1 with an adjustable seat that slides back and forward to get the correct trim, an adjustable footplate with tiller bar. Many come with different types of seats configurations: high back, low, platform, etc. The huge difference between K1’s and K1 Trainers is the stability. Since they are so stable and the cockpits are roomy to accommodate easier entry and exit, they are used for Para paddlers at all different levels including National and Olympic Events. These boats including the Apex Para K1/Apex Trainer conform to the ICF Paralympics boat standards.
Experience paddlers like myself enjoy K1 Trainers because we can paddled them in any flat water conditions with no learning curve or boat fatigue on the longer races. Need improvement on your stroke? These boats allow you to focus on your technique since they offer a stable platform for learning stroke technique while getting the benefits of an excellent seating position and narrow catch.
Into Fitness paddling? or Marathon races? Trainers offer you the ability to paddle hard and get a fitness workout in, without worrying about capsizing while still moving along at an excellent clip. Kids and adults paddlers will start on a K1 Trainer then progress up the ladder to less stable but faster K1’s. Trainers also will fit virtually any size paddler from the narrow hipped to the wide hip to the skinny to the big. Many paddlers that may have trouble fitting in a surf ski can easily fit in a trainer. Despite being stable, Trainers work slightly different muscle groups than surfskis, another plus.
Now Stellar offers their Apex Trainer/Para K1 that I recently put about 6 hours in. The dimensions are 17 feet long and 20.9 inches in the beam and weigh between 24 and 26lbs. As the Performance Director for Stellar Kayaks and Surf skis, I was excited that we now offer yet another type kayak for paddlers of all skill levels. Like other Stellar boats, the first thing you can’t help but notice is the quality. This boats are wonderfully built in a Certified ISO 9001 manufacturing facility. You can literally do handstands on the cockpit they are so strong. We offer 3 different layups including the Advantage layup I paddled for this review. The footplate, seat, rudder and steering adjustments are simple and easy to use. Once you get the boat trimmed out to you liking, be sure to press hard on the foot plate and back of the high back seat. You may have to tighten the knobs again to make sure there is no slippage.
While under way, you will notice the Apex Trainer tracks nicely with a comfortable seating. The Apex Trainer moves along quickly and fit paddlers can push their hull speeds for hours on end. Likewise, the average paddler will enjoy their efficient hulls and cruising speeds. You may want to include air bags since most all trainers and K1’s offer no bulkheads so once you capsize, you may want more floatation. The cockpits are roomy, so if you do capsize, exiting is a low stress event.
So keep your options open when thinking about fitness paddling or racing on flat water. This category of boats fit into the Touring Class in most races and offer excellent seating, stability, and engaging speed. They fit virtually everyone and will fit in virtually any garage and are easy to transport on and off a car. Stellar also offers the full on K1 Apex 75, 85, 95 for advanced K1 paddlers available in the three sizes as mentioned. Former USA Olympian Mike Herbert has been paddling the K1 Apex for a few years now.