Submitted: 08-14-2006 by Benuetzer
This boat is exclusively sold through The Boat People, an outfit in California with a website that is not just informative but also quite hilarious. One of the very few places that aren't afraid to tell you exactly what they think, which is probably why I took an instant liking to Lee, the owner.
I also own a Safari from Innova, so my comments below are very much comparative in nature.
First, this Solar II is a tandem, with seatbacks like the Safari's but lacking a seat cushion. One sits directly on the inflatable deck. The boat has two seats and two footrests; if you want to paddle solo just switch the tracking fin from one end of the boat to the other ( two mounting locations are provided ) and sit facing "the wrong way". You're almost perfectly centered and the boat handles beautifully as a solo. Not to mention that as a solo craft this kayak has an enormous amount of storage space.
This boat is FAST. I had expected it to be faster than the Safari and it did not disappoint. It also tracks much better. Much less to-ing and fro-ing of the bow with every stroke, and I'm willing to wager that a powerful paddler with skill can easily keep up with most rec touring hardshell boats.
Sitting on the floor does get your rear end a little wet, but on a warm summer day that's not a bad thing. In winter I'd advise some sort of an insulating cushion about an inch high. Overall I'm very, very happy with the negligible amount of water entering the boat; since it's not a self-bailer like the Safari that had been one of my concerns. Somehow the hull construction of the Solar II diverts most of the chop away to the sides as opposed to the "in your face" bow effect of the Safari.
The boat is also much stabler than the Safari, because you're sitting at or slightly below the waterline. This contributes to the great tracking and respectable speed, since the lower a boat is the less surface area it presents to the wind.
The ONLY area in which the Safari wins easily is playboating...as it should, because that's what it was designed for. In all other areas that matter - speed, stability, tracking, and volume - the Solar II is a convincing winner.
Did I mention? Instead of the dreary green of the Helios or the off-putting red of all the other Innova boats, this ons is...blue!! And gorgeous!