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Thread: My thoughts on the Silverbirch Covert 9.4

  1. #1

    Default My thoughts on the Silverbirch Covert 9.4

    Long time lurker, some time poster from the far away land of Oz.

    First a bit of my canoeing background. Iíve been gradually reducing the length of the boats I paddle from a 15ft Prospector to a 15í8Ē Wenonah Rendezvous to a 14í6Ē Wenonah Argosy. Ok I know the Rendezvous is longer than the Prospector but for solo white water- it beats it hands down.

    Both the Prospector and Rendezvous are (for me) mainly down river boats although obviously both will do flat water. The Argosy is almost exclusively used for flatwater. To be honest Iím a little heavy for it and only feel comfortable when kneeling. Itís too twitchy when seated.

    I love the Rendezvous in white water. Compared to the Prospector it is much more controllable. Being a dedicated solo boat itís well balanced, a narrow beam to allow paddling from the centre and has more rocker so is less affected by cross currents in white water.

    What I havenít paddled before are short WW kayaks, playboats or dedicated white water/OC1 canoes. So keep that in mind when I describe my experience in the Covert as itís a much bigger step down in size than previous boats. I decided to skip the incremental decreases and go short or go home.

    After picking up my new boat I spent most of the afternoon doing the initial cuts and carving to fit out the saddle, taking a considerable amount out of the bulkhead and back of the saddle. The construction quality is good and the added features in the mould are nice- although the logo on the bottom wonít last longÖÖ

    The fit out kit is excellent. It came with a saddle/bulkhead with adjustable foot pegs, reinforced holes for installing thigh straps should you want them, knee pads, shin/ankle pads, a nicely moulded pair of hip blocks and a pair of wedges that I have no idea where they fit. Everything comes loose with spray adhesive, sandpaper and a ďsure formĒ to allow custom fitting. For my first run I just used the saddle/bulkhead and ran the knee pads and skin/ankle support loose to check the fit. I really should have glued these in or left them out. I lost one ankle support downriver after finding the limit of the secondary stability when I wasnít concentrating and was fortunate to find it in an eddy.

    River levels are very good this time of year and I made the mistake of taking a brand new boat down the Blackwood river (Bridgetown) at water flows that were about 3 times higher than those that I had run before. Going from a low-medium level , 1.5-1.8m on the gauge to high-flood level, 2.6m on the gauge, above 2m is considered ďhighĒ, water flows at 2.6m are double the flow at 2m. Rapids are grade 2-3 at medium-high water. More information by Robyn Korshed can be found here;

    Primary stability is excellent- up there with (if not better than) the Rendezvous and much better than the Argosy. I had no concerns about standing in the boat while getting into the saddle/bulkhead. Secondary stability is also very good and saved me from a number of swims.

    My first paddle stroke turned the boat nearly 180degrees so Iíd have to say manoeuvrability is good- and it proved itself in the wave trains downstream where my primary focus was keeping the nose pointed in the right direction rather than moving forward. My biggest problem (and what I need to practice) is that I canít get a decent power stroke on it yet without putting too much turn on the boat. Iím used to doing a j-stroke or (if Iím feeling lazy) a goon stroke. This didnít work for me in the Covert. I found a c-stroke to be more effective (again this may be my lack of experience in short boats).

    Iím at the upper end of the weight range for the boat, around 100-105kg fully kitted up (depending on if Iím weighed pre or post dunking!). However the boat ran dry through the rapids and I had no problems moving slowly through the wave trains and straightening my line as required. In my other boats I would have needed to pick a line and push through, losing nose on to the waves would normally result in a swamped/flipped boat. It ferries nicely and will happily stay hold position in the current.

    Overall, I really like this boat. Iíve got some more work to do in the fit out to allow extra room for my winter paddling gear and I might need to build up the saddle slightly to take a bit of pressure off my toes. Once I get the hang of a decent power stroke Iíll be able to start concentrating on using the edges more. My biggest worry on the weekend was not being able to assertively pick or adjust my line and being pushed into large stoppers or strainers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Kidderminster, North Worcestershire


    Just got a Rebel so modifying my trad skills. The Covert is a short canoe so to drive it forward you use forward power strokes and cross deck strokes. Don't try doing j strokes as they are not effective on short canoes. Try and meet up with other OC1 boaters and if this is not practicable search the internet for videos or you tube footage. The best way of thinking about getting the most of the short spec boats is to use some kayak moves. You now have rails along the hull of the canoe, use them. Paddle along and look where you want to go, the rails will engage and like a kayak calve into or out of the flow. Its a plastic hull so use the rocks to move around the river by using the slack water behind them. Enjoy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    In OC1 your basic forward stroke is a power-pry, like a goon stroke but with a short dynamic steering phase - trailing the blade is something you will probably need to adapt to avoid.
    J stroke is possible and sometimes useful, but again not trailing like you would in a long boat, you need a quick twist at your hips and then out.

    Cross forward strokes are important too, especially when you need to build up some speed initially. Work on rotating your shoulder line as close to parallel to the centreline of the boat as possible before putting the blade in the water for the stroke (I need to work on this more).

    Dave B talks about using your rails without any kind of explanation - experiment with slightly edging the boat as you paddle and see which way it carves - if the carving turn is towards your paddle side then try paddling along with the boat slightly edged to that side, if it carves away from the paddle side, see if using the other edge helps (I don't paddle a covert so can't guess which edge you would use). For me, my slalom C1 needs the outside edge to be lowered (I can paddle a long way with a short J and no cross forward strokes when edging it like this) but my Extasy OC1 seems to work best if I lower the paddle side edge - I'll be honest, this has caught me out a few times because I am more used to my C1! I found the Option worked on outside edge same as my slalom boat.

    Trim can have a significant effect - like I say I am not a Covert paddler, but watching others who paddle Coverts I suspect that is wants a fairly a neutral trim, so with the saddle set neutrally, people are sitting fairly upright in the boat so not digging the bow in, but also not taking the blade into the rear quarter too far which causes you to lean back and lighten the bow too much. Hence the power-pry and short J are performed around hips and not right aft like you would in a longer boat. Slalom C1, and I suspect the Extasy, handle best when the bow is reasonably loaded, so with the saddle neutral I tend to be leaning and reaching quite well forward for most of my stroke (when I am concentrating properly) - this bow grip in the slalom C1 helps to prevent it turning away from the paddle stroke. I am still experimenting with the trim for my Extasy, I felt it was too light in the bow before, but seeing other people trying it at the weekend this was really obviously the case, fortunately there was another well balanced Extasy to compare with so I pulled out my saddle and moved it around to find a similar trim, I marked and measured it, but have not had time to fix it in again yet.

    Most if not all OC1s are best paddled neutral or slightly heavy in the bow, for ordinary forward paddling at least, there will be times when you do want to temporarily shift your weight back for a manouevre.

    I'm sure there will be a covert paddler along before long to reveal which edge they use and if it helps to weight the bow or not.
    Last edited by JimW; 7th-August-2018 at 12:20 PM.

    How hard can it be?

  4. #4


    Thanks for the tips guys. Weather permitting I'll do some more work on the outfitting and take the boat out for some flatwater practice this weekend.

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