Submitted: 04-24-2007 by ChiBu
Let me start out by saying that I use this kayak for multi-day trips, surf play, and your typical everyday exploratory excursions. No rudder outfitted. **It is obvious to me LiquidLogic put a lot of time into designing this craft.**
My only gripe about this kayak is this...the sides of the boat are tall. I have smashed my fingers a couple of times while paddling because I'm used to a much lower profile boat (a Dagger Cayman).
I was concerned after putting this boat next to my Cayman that because it was higher off the water, it wouldn't perform very well in windy conditions. Boy, was I wrong! This kayak tracks AMAZINGLY well. No wind...no problem. Much wind...well, of course you can feel it and you may need to throw in a few more strokes in on one side over the other, but considering I don't have a rudder, I would expect that. Still, staying on track is no problem. I've taken this boat out in 20+ knots and I never exhausted myself.
Speed. One of the fastest SOT's I've ever paddled. I have no problem keeping up with people in enclosed tourers. It takes me about 4 strokes and I'm at top speed.
Stability. The boat is quite stable. I have been out with ocean chop up to 3-4 feet. Not a problem. I was hit with a giant wake from a 60+ft sport yacht (at cruising speed) and this kayak took it like a champ. Roll with your hips and the boat will take care of the rest.
Surf play. Being 14 feet, it is what it is but in mild surf this boat is a lot of fun. I can paddle out through the breakers without much trouble. The hull design makes it so you just slice through the water. You won't be carving up the face of a wave or anything.
Dry. The MR14 is the driest SOT I've ever paddled. If you read the manufacturers description about the scupper holes (4 in the cockpit), then believe me, it's all true. At 230 lbs, my butt is dry. With the way the cockpit is designed, the water never reaches your bum. However, in rough waters you may get a bit damp. Also, the hull does a fine job of diverting spray away from your face. Regardless of what the salesman says about the hull letting water over the top, know that the only time I ever got spray in my face was when the wind blew it back at me. There's not much you can do about Mother Nature.
Comfort. The straps to the backrest were put on wrong so it was constantly sliding back putting me into a more reclined position. Easy fix. I took the straps out and re-threaded them. The butt pad is very comfy.
Features. I was torn 50/50 between this boat and the Tarpon140. After examining the subtle differences, I went with the Manta Ray. Why? The rubber deck hatch has a hard plastic inlay (the gray portion) which really is great for strapping things to without compromising the seal by pushing it inward.
The drain plug is on the side of the boat making it so I don't have to stand a 14 foot tall boat on it's end. Nice feature. I can prop it up on the side and walk away.
The two smaller day hatches are not your usual nylon bag type. They come with plastic cups inside so if water does get into the boat (which, by the way, has not happened yet with me) your objects will still stay dry. I have not had any problem with those hatches leaking at all. I forgot to bring a ziploc bag to put my phone in and I decided to place it in the lower hatch along with my car keys and wallet. After a hard day of paddling and even a little surfing (with a wipeout or two) everything was fine and perfectly dry.
As for the rest of the features..well..just see for yourself. I think this is a fantastic kayak and I'm a pretty harsh critic.