The Tahe Greenlander is probably the most popular composite rolling qayaq in the world. It performs wonderfully on both layback rolls and forward facing rolls. It handles well in rough water and is comfortable for paddling on longer day trips. It does not have the twitchiness found in a lot of narrow kayaks. I can appreciate the challenges of trying to combine the best attributes of Greenland rolling kayaks and composite construction. Modern kayakers are used to comfortable molded seats and large keyhole cockpits. Dedicated Greenland rollers need a snug fitting masik and knee brace that transfers their slightest movement to the kayak hull. There is a big difference between pushing yourself backwards into the molded seat and nylon backband vs pulling yourself forward into a stationary wooden masik.
The design of the Tahe compromised in favour of a comfortable molded seat and backband and left out the masik. Therefore the Tahe needs some homemade modifications to make up for the lack of a masik.
Greenland rollers have developed many workarounds to the Tahe masik problem. The most common workaround is a slab of foam that fits inside the qajaq and over the thighs. Another good modification is a carved piece of wood that fits over the thighs and tucks under the cockpit rim.
My modification combines a rigid plastic sheet with the comfort of custom carved foam.
I used a 3mm sheet of ABS thermoform plastic measuring 20 by 56 cm. I heated it with a heat gun and curved it to fit inside the deck. Then I stitched a 55 mm thick slab of ethafoam cut to 32 by 41 cm. It is difficult to glue ethafoam to ABS so I drilled holes and stitched the foam to the ABS. I kept the stitching outside of the area I needed to carve to fit my knees and thighs. The whole assembly fits under the deck and above my knees and slides forward out of the way to let me sit in the qayaq. After I am seated, I pull the plastic masik towards me right to my belly. I drilled two holes and tied a cord to the masik for a handle.
I had to make one more modification to keep the masik from sliding forward while I was rolling. I cut a small piece of ABS and glued it to the top of the main ABS sheet to prevent the masik from sliding forward too easily.
I developed a different seat for my Tulugaaq rolling qayaq. The Tulugaaq is a more traditional skin-on-frame ( SOF ) with both a masik and a knee brace. The combination of the masik and knee brace spreads the stress of rolling over a larger area of the thighs for greater comfort. When you sit in this qayaq, you pull yourself forward right up to the masik. This works well for creating the snug fit that Greenland rollers need. It works well enough for a one hour rolling session but on a longer paddle, my butt and back needed more support. In this configuration, a backband is almost useless.
I experimented with a variety of foam blocks for a backrest. The one pictured below meets my requirements. It is a 75 mm ( 3 inch ) thick slab of dense foam that fits entirely behind me in the cockpit. The back of it is held in place by the ‘backrest’ beam. ‘Backrest’ is a misleading term because you would never rest your back against it in this type of qayaq. The forward edge is curved side to side to fit my butt and top to bottom to provide sacrum and cheek support. I slide forward into the qayaq and down into the hole between the backrest and the masik. The backrest keeps me pushed forward close to the masik. It also provides the back and butt support that I need for longer paddles. It is low enough that it does not interfere with lying on the back deck. I am very pleased with this backrest. I have never seen another one like it. I encourage all SOF paddlers and builders to try out this design.