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Submitted: 09-01-2007 by north
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I recently became the proud owner of a KayakPro Nemo. It is the carbon/kevlar layup and the finish is first rate inside and out. The Nemo has very striking lines with nearly plumb bow and stern for maximum waterline length and sculpted cutouts in the deck to facilitate more efficient forward stoke technique.

Not a race boat disguised as a sea kayak, this is a true sea kayak that is purposely designed for fast and efficient paddling. It comes equipped with bulkheads, hatch covers, perimeter deck lines, carry toggles and foot pedal-controlled rudder. Even with all these standard “sea kayak” features this carbon/kevlar speedster weighs in at only 36 lbs. I can easily lift it on and off the car top alone. While not quite as light as my other KayakPro boat, the Jet, it is certainly lighter than just about anything in its class.

The Nemo is designed for the smaller/lighter paddler. At 5’9” 160lbs it feels just right. Larger paddlers may want to wait for the Marlin to be released which is the same basic boat in a slightly roomier version. It has an over-stern rudder that is operated by pivoting toe pedals attached to a solid, fixed foot brace providing nice support for good leg drive as a proper forward stroke requires. The whole foot pedal/support is easily adjusted as is the seat for a custom fit. The deeply molded seat is very comfortable and provides enough support that no backrest is needed. Note that the rudder cannot be raised or lowered from the cockpit however I believe this boat was designed to be paddled with the rudder deployed full-time and it does kick up in the event you make contact with an obstacle. This setup provides decent turning ability. While it may not “turn on a dime” it’s more than adequate for an 18 foot boat that’s designed for going straight and fast. Set on edge, the boat carves a turn nicely and has good response to lean and sweep strokes.

The unique and roomy cockpit design allows you to paddle with feet and knees together in a racing-oriented position to maximize leg drive or, when conditions warrant, to slip your legs under the molded-in thigh braces for more stability to assist bracing or rolling. My boat is equipped with Kajaksport hatch covers which provide an excellent seal.

The boat is designed to be fast and efficient through the water. At nearly 18 feet and only 21” wide (probably closer to 18” at the waterline) it is the fastest sea kayak for the small/medium paddler currently available. I’m not a particularly strong paddler, my background has been in distance running, but even so I averaged slightly over 6 mph for 5 miles and was not close to getting this boat up to its potential. Grayson at KayakPro paddled the Nemo to a first place at a recent race, beating all surf skis in the process, averaging over 7 mph! If you’ve got the engine this boat will really move. If racing is not your thing, it’s still nice to have a boat that can easily cruise at a faster pace than just about any other touring kayak on the water and allows you to cover more miles with less effort.

The really great thing about the Nemo is you don’t have to give up stability to get this speed. They have come up with a truly remarkable hull design that provides a wonderful combination of comfortable primary and great secondary stability. I have not had the opportunity to get out in big water conditions yet but have had it out on the Pacific in some moderate swells and it handled great. The sharp bow slices through waves and swells without excessive bouncing and there is enough volume in the bow to avoid getting swamped. Waves and boat wakes from the beam seemed to pass under the shallow-V hull without causing much tipping – a tribute to that great secondary stability. I discovered an added bonus to this stability is that it allows one to put more conviction into your rotation without the fear of losing balance. I’ve definitely improved my stroke technique paddling the Nemo.

Lastly, but most important, KayakPro has always been a joy to deal with. Grayson is a world class paddler and understands that’s not the only prerequisite to selling performance boats – he also provides first class customer service. All of my questions and concerns have received quick and insightful responses.

The Nemo will appeal to the intermediate to advanced paddler looking for a fast boat for competition or effortless touring. This boat will make you a better paddler. KayakPro has a real winner in the Nemo – its highly recommended. A real “10”.

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