Submitted: 06-06-2007 by seark
I first tested the Kestral 140, both the rotomold and composite versions, at a demo day at the city park lake. I was looking for a light touring/transitional kayak in the 13 to 15 foot range. I mostly paddle Class I/II rivers, bayous and lakes with occasional trips to the coastal salt marshes and estuaries.
I'm short and wide, 5'5" and 200lbs. I've been kayaking for 8 years paddling using a wide variety of recreational and touring kayaks - always searching for the ever elusive perfect boat.
I liked the ease of getting in and out thanks to the larger cockpit. The boat accelerated easily. It was stable but was easy to edge slightly for steering. The rotomold has a narrower bow than the composite. The ten-minute paddle on the lake was enjoyable but I wasn't completely sold. Yesterday, a local outfitter allowed me to paddle a rotomold Kestral 140 in a 4 mile Arkansas River canoe and kayak race in the Little Rock area. (This kind of service is why I highly recommend purchasing from a local outfitter!) Paddling that distance with an attempt at speed showed me that, while the Kestral 140 has nice stability and easy in/out, the cockpit is too open for me. The cockpit's XL size and low-cut profile leaves nothing for knees to brace against. The narrow/flat bow also tended to plow. In white caps, I would have been taking on water. When I stopped paddling briefly to take a photo, the Kestal immediately lost momentum and began to veer off.
If you are wanting a large cockpit for fishing/photography on flat water and aren't concerned about speed or distance - the Kestral would be a fine boat - although I prefer my original kayak, an Old Town Loon 138 - now 8 years old, for that sort of outing. For long distances and competing in the fun divisions of canoe & kayak races, I chose a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 instead. It gives me just a little more room to wiggle in and out and for comfort over the long stretch than the Tsunami 140 my nephew 5'6", 165 lbs. is happily competing in now.