Submitted: 07-02-2007 by Portabloak
I demoed a Capella 173 from the nice folks at Osprey Sea Kayak in Westport Ma. and was extremely impressed with the kayak. Honestly with all the buzz about the Cetus I did not expect much from the 173. Wrong!
Some paddler info: I'm approximately 230 lbs (in full gear) 5 ft 10 with size 11+1/2 Chotas. Boat was paddled empty. I am approaching my mid fifties and have been paddling for 4 seasons. Admittedly with most of my weight above the cockpit and limited flexibility in my back, I have struggled each season to feel comfortable off shore when the wind and chop picks up. Also, like a lot of other folks, I have bought sold and swapped a few boats trying to "get it right".
This Capella 173 is hands down the best kayak I have ever paddled for my needs. Though the cockpit is huge, it fits snug and is very easy to get in and out of while still giving you great contact with the boat. I do not have big legs and the thigh brace connection was great out of the box. I found the boat very easy to maneuver and quite fast with a nice glide. Plenty of primary stability and the secondary for me was just perfect. Very confidence inspiring and SOLID.
I have been paddling a fiberglass Valley Skerray for a couple years. Other than the cockpit and high back deck I have nothing negative to say about the Skerray. That said the Capella 173 for me is a much better choice.
Why? It`s faster and tracks much better without the skeg, the cockpit is a lot lower on the back deck which allows you to layback much easier and the 34 inch front to back dimension is awesome for raising a knee on the water and for quick exits during surf landings.
Cons for me were the backband setup (it doesn`t swing out of the way via bungees) and the seat was mounted cocked to the right side and a bit off center. Both easy fixes. If you are in the over 200 lb. club definitely try this one. Other companies have tried to make one model fit the varying skill levels, needs and sizes of paddlers but P&H has hit a home run with the revamped Capella line as far as I`m concerned.