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Submitted: 07-03-2007 by Kayakcyndi

I have been in the search for a rough water racing sea kayak for awhile. Something rollable, with bulkheads, that was comfortable and would go fast. My search ultimately lead me to the KayakPro Nemo. A racing sea kayak that eats up rough water.

The Nemo is a racer designed to fit within the sea kayak specifications of the USCA and USACK. It is 17’11.5” feet long, 21.5 at the widest and tips the scales at a whopping 36 pounds in full carbon. Most importantly for me, this boat is designed for the smaller, lighter paddler. If you don’t fall into the smaller category but like what you read hang on – the Marlin designed for larger paddlers will be released this fall.
At first glance the boat is a little schizophrenic – like it can’t decide if it is a race boat or a sea kayak. The bow and stern are nearly plumb to maximize water line and razor sharp to cut through the water. The foredeck has cut out sides to facilitate a close paddle catch. There is a nifty GPS holder right in front of the cockpit. The hull rounds quickly into a shallow-v resulting in a waterline width of something closer to 18”. All these features speak to the kayak’s racing inspired design. But the boat has bulkheads, nice and dry kayaksport hatch covers, deck rigging (a little minimal) and really nice thigh hooks.

Construction: The Nemo is available in several constructions. The standard glass/carbon weighs 44 lbs and the “racer layup” in full carbon is 36 lbs. My carbon boat is light and easy to carry – easier in fact than my 26 lbs Thunderbolt. The shorter Nemo is much less unweildy on shoulder and I can life the boat over head to put it on the car with ease.
Given its lightness I was a bit concerned about strength and stiffness. The front deck is really solid and there is no give around the cockpit. The rear deck has a small amount of flex. I stuff a foam pillar in there when not needing the storage space to provide a little extra structural support.
The interior of the boat is smooth with no sharp edges. The hatches stay dry while rolling. Neither hatch comes tethered to the boat so that was an early change also. You could probably stow enough gear for a fast and light weekend trip but not much more than that.
The Nemo comes standard with a gas pedal rudder system. It works fairly well and gives a nice solid foot brace for the knees center paddling position. The foot block is easily adjusted and there is a nifty little fine tuning adjuster in the cockpit for you to use if you think the rudder is pulling more one way than the other. I made and installed a pull bar into the foot plate to get better rotation.

Fit: Oh baby what a comfortable boat! The composite thigh braces are exactly where they should be for me – near my mid thigh when sitting in the boat and not way down by my knees. This leaves the front of the cockpit open so I can paddle knees center racer style. When I need to brace, roll or need more stability I can pop my legs back under the braces and be rock solid.
The seat also deserves special mention. It is a molded pan seat that is adjustable forward and back a bit like the Epics. What is different is the cupped sides and back which help hold you in the seat and eliminate the need for a back band. That means better rotation and easier to lay back to roll. For me it is still a little deep. I added a 1 inch skwoosh pad to it and now its great. My longest in boat time to date was 4 hours and I was as comfortable as could be.

Speed: Now I know you are all asking the same question – but is it fast? That will depend on the paddler, but yes it is fast. In calm conditions (i.e. no wind to push me one direction or the other), I can easily cruise at 5.2-5.5 mph , race pace paddle at 5.7-5.9 for good distance (10 miles) and in sprints get it in the 6-6.3 mph range. Now that might not seem impressive to some of you big guys out there but remember we’re talking about a 125 lbs female. That is pretty good for me.
But the boat is more than fast; it is fast, stable and sea worthy. What this means for me is that I can edge it nicely. The boat kind of settles onto those cut-out sides when way up on edge and spins around. It is rollable. Perhaps not “fancy Greenland style rolls rollable” but more along the lines of “knock me over by a big wave while I’m racing with my wing paddle and I’ll get up kind of rollable.”
It is also super stable, ok caveat that I’ve been paddling the Tbolt and K1’s lately. On a paddle down out on the Chesapeake last week we had 2 foot swells plus chop in other areas. The bow rode over the waves easily and dryly. Surfing down wind the boat accelerated quickly to catch waves and was stable in both following waves and side chop. During our water break I happily lounged near the lighthouse, sprayskirt off, knees up just hanging out. This boat will shine in open ocean/rough water races.
Another, perhaps priceless, feature of the boat is that people say I smile a lot while paddling it!

Gripes: As with any boat, I’ve got a couple of gripes. First, the rudder isn’t deployable from the cockpit. You need to put it up or down before getting in the boat. This is inconvenient. More than that though, if you snap a rudder cable or need to retract it for some reason while miles from shore it could be a safety issue. Also those “fine tuning” adjusters come with a price. It means that rudder doesn’t have one solid cable but is rather two cables joined by small brass crimpers. I already popped that clamp once on both sides.
Second, the hatch covers should be tethered down. Easy to put string on the front hatch and tie it off to the deck rigging but the back hatch is more difficult. The kayaksport hatch has a lash tab on the inside and there is nothing in the rear hatch to attach it too. I’m going to epoxy in a u-bracket somewhere in there.

Final Analysis: So far, I love the boat and recommend it to anyone looking for a racing kayak that fits sea kayak specs or to paddlers looking for a fast, fast touring boat and who will give it the care that a full carbon boat needs. If they fixed that rudder I'd give the boat a 10 and as it is now it is really close to one anyway!

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