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Nordkapp Forti

by Valley Sea Kayaks

The Førti (Norwegian for forty) is the latest version of undoubtedly the most influential sea kayak ever produced, the Nordkapp! The original being designed specifically for the 1975 expedition of the Norwegian coast, to the northern most point in Scandinavia, This expedition marked the beginning of modern sea kayak expeditioning and marked a watershed in equipment designed for the sport. Paddle this kayak and you paddle a kayak that can trace it’s DNA back to that very first sea kayak expedition! 

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Reviews

A Classic

Submitted by: on

I bought the Forti as a counterpoint to my Valley Pintail and P&H Delphin, both of which have a different place in kayaking for me. I wanted better tracking, speed and load carrying capacity and the ability to handle big water when touring. I decided on the Nordkapp Forti and love the boat more every time I paddle it. For starters, this is not a beginners' kayak. The 21.5" width is a little misleading. The sides of the kayak are not squared off like a Tiderace or NDK (both great boats by the way). The Nordkapp sides taper in slightly from top to bottom making the effective waterline width noticeably narrower. It feels very lively, but very predictable and sneaky fast. Effortless to cruise along at 4.5 knots. The bow and stern are somewhat "fuller" than previous models, a throwback to the original model that the legend was built on. They are less pinched and seem lower and less exaggerated than past versions. In all, a very sleek and elegant design.
The build quality is stellar (typical for Valley) and finish is perfect. I like the recessed coaming which makes doing scramble solo reentries much easier. The seat is pre-drilled with three different positions to alter trim if needed as well.
This kayak is not meant for playboating and certainly does not turn on a dime even when edged with the coaming in the water. It wasn't designed for that and if that is what you are looking for, there are numerous kayaks that can fill that need......like the aforementioned Delphin. The tracking is excellent though and it rolls like a dream. Probably the only knock I have is the backband is mediocre. I took it out and replaced it with an Immersion Research band which fit perfectly. I also have one of these in my Pintail.
All in all, this is a great Intermediate to Advanced kayak that embodies a classic elegance. I feel alive and a part of the waves when I paddle this boat. We are going to have many great adventures together.

Bought one blindly early the year. I was used to greenlandst…

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Bought one blindly early the year. I was used to greenlandstyle boats, northshore atlantic lv and p&h cetus lv before. So I fancied quite something different, which it is. I am a diy paddler except for greenlandstyle rolling. So I stay close to shore to keep it fun for me. The boat is less stable than I am used to, but after only two outings I felt more than well in it. Rolls perfectly. I have paddled without load and am 85 kg. It just feels like a crisp and lively ride especially with the waves getting bigger. The boat seems very solid and built quality is nice. Quite a load to carry though in fibre. To me it compares to an older car. Take more care driving and it takes you anywhere. You stop longing for alternatives. I am for sure no kayaking pro or a paddler too experienced. I just enjoy the forti for its beauty and perfectly fitting me. Just post this to encourage people to try it. Anyway paddler and kayak grow together or they just don't.

Let me start with a confession: I am biased. I am a…

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Let me start with a confession: I am biased. I am a Nordkapp aficionado. Coming from a Nordkapp RM, and having tested the previous composite models Nordkapp Std and LV, this review may be more of a comparison of the new Førti against the previous Nordkapps than anything else. My first sea kayak was a Nordkapp RM. I had read and been told that this was not supposed to be a beginner's boat, but I wanted to try. I was learning in an environment with several experienced kayakers and coaches, and I was stubborn.

During the summer of 2014, a friend suggested I should try sitting in an Etain 17-3. I was not interested in buying an Etain, and 17-3 was surely too small for me anyway, I thought, but I obliged. To my surprise, it was the best cockpit I had sat in so far. It fit like a glove, or rather a pair of very comfortable pants. Perfect fit, perfect ergonomics, perfect in every way but one - it was in the wrong kayak. I had begun thinking of upgrading my RM to a composite Nordkapp. What would it take to get Valley to custom build a Nordkapp with this cockpit? Probably more than I could afford, if they'd be willing to do at all...

Fast forward about one year. I had heard rumours about a new Nordkapp, and read some forum posts about it, and now it had arrived at my favourite kayak store. So I went to the store, and within minutes I was sitting in it. It was like Valley had read my mind. Here was a Nordkapp hull (the original Nordkapp hull, to be precise, copied from an old kayak from the very first mold), with the modern deck and the Etain cockpit - almost exactly the same size as on the Etain 17-3. The only fish I had to fry with the Nordkapp was right there, cooked to perfection!

So, how does the Førti compare with the previous generation? I won't comment too much on the Std and LV because I do not sit too comfortably in either of them. I cannot bend my knees as much as I like in the Std (apparently due to the shape of the foredeck) and the LV is a bit too small as well (the deck seems too low). I have paddled both of them, and the hulls are absolutely fine, but I think that if you don't sit comfortably, it does not matter how good the kayak is - that kayak is not for you, and your opinion just doesn't qualify.

The RM fits me very well, and I sit quite comfortably in it. According to specifications, the RM is between the old Std and LV, and quite close to the Førti in terms of size and load capacity. Paddling them with and without gear seems to confirm this. They are in the same ballpark in terms of hull performance, speed, stability, etc. but the Førti has regained some volume at the ends which has been lost over the years because of slight differences between each mold. This makes it hit the water ever so slightly harder in waves, but on the other hand it does not dive quite as much - with the added bonus of a bit more storage space. The composite materials also make the Førti stiffer, smoother, and lighter, which is noticeable in terms of speed, performance, and handling.

The Førti has the same modern deck with 4 hatches as the Etains and Sironas, excellent cockpit ergonomics, while preserving the flowing, classically beautiful lines of its origin.

A note about the stability: The Nordkapps have been said to feel tippy, at least to some paddlers. What I think is the case is that they do have the correct stability curve, but the righting forces are somewhat smaller than for certain other kayaks. This means the primary / initial stability is perhaps not as solid as some beginners might like. For this reason, you might not want to be an absolute beginner when you evaluate this kayak. The secondary stability which actually saves you from falling in is predictable, and the limit is well defined, but the force is more modest. In other words, it will tell you when you approach the limits, but it will not shout it at you. If you choose not to listen, that is your problem, and chances are you'll swim.

The potential downside of this is that there is less resistance to tipping over, if this is something you need. This can make it less forgiving for some.

The upside is that since there is less resistance to tipping, the kayak requires little effort to edge. This makes it quite manouverable and fun, for a touring / expedition type kayak. It will play, although not as extremely as a dedicated playboat. You can do your rock gardening, surf waves, and practice all your strokes. I think the stability characteristics are a major contributing factor to its reputation for seaworthiness - it does not care much about the state of the water, it just cuts through confused seas like a hot knife through butter.

Would I recommend this boat? If you want a kayak with "built-in error correction", perhaps not. If you want a dedicated playboat, look at those designs first. But if you're not put off by what I have written so far, absolutely yes! If it fits you and your type of paddling, chances are you'll be just as happy as I am with it.
Super happy, that is!