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Submitted: 04-11-2007 by casjdcksn
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First need to get a bit out of the way - I am 5'10", fluctuate around 200 pounds, almost 60 years old and have been paddling for about 55 of those 60 years. I consider myself primarily a canoe paddler, but have logged thousands of miles in a sea kayak also. I am also a friend of the folks who make this boat.

That said, I'll try to be as objective as possible. The Rapidfire is a 15 foot solo boat designed by Dave Yost. While it may look like a canoe at first glance, it is truly an open topped kayak. It was intended to be paddled from a very low seating position utilizing a double-bladed paddle. It has minimal rocker, significant tumblehome and an exceptionally long waterline for its length. The combination of light weight (comfortably under 30 pounds), large volume and an open top make it an ideal pack canoe (a kayak with enclosed storage compartments is a serious pain when pond-hopping) for the larger paddler.

The design is executed in carbon/kevlar using a vacuum bagging process. Cherry rails were standard when I bought mine, though it is possible that a graphite rail system will be available soon. End caps and thwarts are constructed of a laminated product called dymondwood - chosen for its strength and water resistance (according to the Placid Boatworks web-site). My personal opinion is that it may be an exceptional material for the purpose, but that it is ugly as sin.

It is seaworthy, tracks well and is very responsive to leaned turns. And, above all, it is flat out fast. The tumblehome allows for a pretty efficient paddle stroke - certainly much more so than the other boats in this class that I have paddled. All in all, it is a wonderful execution of a craft designed for a very specific purpose. And that is both its virtue and its vice. As long as you stay within the design parameters, it is a great boat. That's where we need to go back to the beginning of this review.

I am a canoe paddler and make no mistake - this is not a canoe. The seating position is simply not conducive to efficient paddling with a single-bladed stick. It could be modified by installing a seat with enough rise to allow an efficient paddle stroke with a single bladed paddle, but that begins to mess with the stability inherent in the design. Accept it for what it is and you won't find a better boat in the class. Try to make it something it isn't and you probably will not be happy.

Rating - 10 out of 10 if you sit and use a double-bladed paddle.

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