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Submitted: 07-10-2006 by Tig
Recently my ever-dependable sweetheart yak I designed and built was run over by a moron on the beach at La Jolla, California (another story to say the least). Friends in So Cal gave me a Viviane thinking of our upcoming expedition for the winter 2006-spring 2007. In the last 7 weeks since owning it, I've removed the bulkheads, moving the rear bulkhead forward to follow the curve of the rear coaming, and moved the forward bulkhead aft 8 inches, then mounted a Bosworth Guzzler 400 foot pump with 1 inch intake and exhaust. The foot pedals were removed and replaced with angled minicell foam mounted on either side of the footpump. The seat joined the foot pedals in the trash, and the coaming extension flange cut to match the lower coaming line, and to make a better carry area. Minicell foam seat back and seat bottom was made and installed to fit. The thigh foam was replaced to fit me. Finally, I've replaced the rubber hatch covers with a modified carbon fiber and rubber covers to lighten the weight even more. I've also done a list of changes to the deck hardware, skeg, and a lot of foam glued inside the cockpit to further reduce the cockpit volume. That said, the kayak now fits me very well.
Some of the things that have impressed me with this kayak is how dry a ride it is. It's lively, but is a hell of a lot of fun to paddle in rough water. She's a inch wider then my wood yak was, but somewhat faster. The kayak is white so it's cooler then most others, and the room for the feet is perfect because, for those of you who know me and my mantra for long-distance paddles: comfort=safety. The kayak swallows a phenomenal amount of gear and is forgiving for bad weight distribution when tested deliberately. Without a doubt, she's going to be a perfect expedition yak. Spo now that I've said all that, her best feature is how easy it is to surf her while paddling my daily 20-30 miles in training. I've caught all sorts of wakes and wind waves, some standing waves and the breaks over the bar and some point breaks in my area. The surfer punks are getting truly pissed off!
Another great feature is how easy it is to scull back up when knocked over versus setting up for a roll. Speaking of rolling, she's an angel to roll, too. In fact, I can do reliable hand rolls with her.
So, aside from the mods I discussed above, she would be far better if made with carbon fiber. Other then that, she's been a real joy, and in the 30 years of paddling, she's my 17th kayak, and she's easily one of the best production kayaks I've had or paddled. For me, she's up there with the Aquanaut (which I busted up and patched together when we did the first winter circumnavigation of Tasmania). Nothing will replace my wood yak for the perfect kayak, but the Viviane is real close.
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