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Submitted: 08-30-2006 by cooldoctor1
The Bic Yakka 80 is one of the new boats you may have seen in the magazines, and as my kayaking took me to a new level of wanting a fast and portable travel boat, I bought a Yakka. Folding kayaks seemed to take too much set-up time, and inflatables seemed like dowdy water plows. The Bic Yakka series appeared to be the best of all worlds: rapid set-up, great design, and a fairly fast rigid hull. Did it live up to the promise? Yes, with some limitations. The Yakka 80 is rated at 176 lbs max, and my 168 lb frame does not seem to sink the boat, and there seems to be weight to spare. The 9 foot 4 inch open length (I opted against the Yakka 120 because of its 6 foot folded length—12 ft extended—which would seem not to fit in my van or truck like the 80 model) is compact, and there is a built in roller to pull the heavy 46 lb yak (two roller wheels would have been better than the one provided). Red inflatable cordura perimeter atop what is essentially a foldable sit-on-top, the boat sets up in about 120 seconds. Unfold, screw down a stabilizer bar, and inflate. I inflated this boat easily with my mouth (pump included but not mandatory). On my inaugural paddle, I was impressed by the speed of this boat and despite its short length and wide beam, it tracked fairly well as long as my paddle stroke was even and steady. I was impressed at the efficiency. It really punches through the flat-water (doubt this boat would be any good at all in waves and chop—get a folder for those conditions), which is what I wanted rather than an inflatable hull water plow. An immediate drawback was noted, and that is water coming in the midhull line where the two base hull pieces meet, i.e. some water comes in at the folding “joint”. How much? A lot! Enough for a wet butted ride certainly. I added a Surf-to-Summit SOT seat, which fits handy built in clips on the Yakka (even Bic was thinking you’d add a seat, I suspect), and was able to sit above the water and not get wet at all for my subsequent rides. I would say that the seat is mandatory. I find that the water ingress, although slightly disarming, hits a certain level and then stops, thanks to scupper plugs that allow a balanced egress. Thus, you will not get flooded, you’ll just feel like your getting flooded. I emailed Bic about this, asking for advice and to share my commentary, but the company has not responded after two months.
In summary, this boat is exactly what I wanted—a fast, easy to carry (4 foot 8 inches long closed) rigid hulled yak. Just bring a descent SOT seat, and consider a possible wet ride. The quality of the workmanship on this boat is really stupendous—years of refinement from Bic’s surfboards (and a big improvement over their cheap ball point pens). For the purposes mentioned, I will certainly have many paddles in this boat over the years (have threatened the wife that I may paddle the fountain pond at the mall while she goes shoe shopping). Deducted two points: one for the wet ride, and one for the weight, which still comes in at 45 lbs or so (would hope for lighter). Bic customer support is also suspect. Recommended.
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