ICAST First Look: BOTE Rackham APEX

A hard shell paddleboard with pedal system

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My first stop on the first day of ICAST 2022 was to test the brand new BOTE Rackham APEX at the on the water Demo Day. I’ve spent many hours paddling the BOTE Rackham paddleboard and an equal number of hours pedaling the inflatable BOTE LONO with APEX drive. So, when I saw the hard-shell BOTE Rackham with a new and improved Apex pedal drive, I had to take a spin.

BOTE’s Rackham Gatorshell gets moving

Aaron May, lead designer at BOTE explained, “After the incredible popularity of the inflatable LONO Aero Apex, we decided to add the pedal drive to the Rackham hardboard.”

Before I hopped on the new board, May gave me a run-through of the highlights. The team didn’t mess with success. “We kept most of the Rackham design and rigging the same,” May told me. He pointed the Rackham’s favorite features such as the strategically placed ¼-20 inserts to install BOTE’s cool fishing accessories such as rod holders, electronics, pushpole holder and gear rack.

The Rackham APEX pedal drive fits through a large well in the deck. The rudder clips onto the stern and connects to the controller with a flexible cable. For a seat, BOTE brought the inflatable seat over from the LONO. The seat attaches to the paddleboard deck with adjustable straps. The whole system only takes seconds to install.

On the water, the Rackham with Apex was quick and capable. The paddleboard’s shallow draft and flat bottom allow the rudder to turn the boat sharply. The pedals turn smoothly and provide plenty of power to propel the light paddleboard. May says, “We made some small updates to the Apex pedal system to improve efficiency and durability.” I could tell the updated system felt solid and smooth. The inflatable seat is comfortable and at the right height for efficient pedaling.

man pedals BOTE Rackham Apex at ICAST

Rackham Apex is a Standout Fishing SUP

The Apex pedal system solves the big challenge of fishing from a standup paddleboard. While paddling a traditional SUP is more difficult than paddling a kayak, the pedals and prop take the challenge out of propelling the board. Also, the prop and lower unit act as a keel to increase stability and tracking. So, the pedal system makes the SUP more user-friendly and easier to fish.

But, the Rackham is still a standup paddleboard at heart. “The Rackham is designed to go from SUP to paddle kayak to pedal kayak,” May explains. He uses the pedal system to reach the fishing grounds, retracts the prop when the water gets shallow, and paddles the board with a SUP paddle or kayak paddle. “The board includes multiple paddle storage options,” he says.

My favorite feature of the BOTE board is always the quality construction and cool looks. The Rackham uses BOTE’s Gatorshell material which performs like fiberglass or carbon fiber board but is as tough as steel. That means the board passes through the water smoothly and efficiently, but I can still go one on one with oyster shells, rocks and dock pilings where the fish hide.

BOTE boards always look cool, and the new Rackham Apex is available in the sporty and inspiring Bugslinger design with bold colors and intricate patterns.

Aaron May says the Apex will be available on the Rackham 12 and 14. Boards will hit dealers in late 2023. Pricing is not set, but he expects the board will come in around the same price as the current Rackham between $1,900 and $2,200. The pedal system and rudder will be offered as an add-on for about $900.

While the Rackham with Apex pedal drive won’t replace a full-size, full-feature pedal kayak. The easy propulsion and solid stability with vast versatility mean the Rackham Apex might replace your current standup paddleboard.

 

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