Submitted: 04-08-2008 by Peter Kaverud
I am 6’1” 185 lbs, have about 5 years experience and love a challenge. I rate myself as “Enthusiastic Intermediate” and have been on the water around Cape Cod MA and along the Connecticut coast and here are my impressions of the Viviane I bought used about a year ago.
I like the speed and there is minimal reaction to small chop and light wind. It provides for a dry ride and you can paddle in 10 – 15 knot wind and (2 foot) chop at full blast without the conditions having much effect on the kayak. It makes nice and steady progress even at some angle to the wind. At greater angle the same result is achieved by slight skeg deployment. Efficiency is achieved by being able to paddle without much in the way of correction strokes.
The price paid for the speed and steady cruse in most conditions is a boat that is more difficult to maneuver very challenging conditions. Paddling the Viviane is forcing me to be a more disciplined kayaker. But as a couple friends have pointed out and demonstrated: The Viviane turns quite well, “all you need to do is to put it on edge!” And true, this boat will respond very well to aggressive edging but will not turn sharply until you put it on edge. The turning characteristics are not surprising considering the hull shape. The hull is long and straight it has minimal rocker. It also has fairly a fairly deep v-shape at each end and a more rounded center section. The hull shape is very noticeable: If you pull the boat up partially on a steep beach, then the kayak lays down on its side if one end is on the beach and the rest in the water. Pull it up completely and it lays upright.
This kayak rolls quite well with the spray skirt attached as well as in a re-entry and roll “self rescue” situation. You will discover though, just like a previous reviewer, that the cockpit has room for a lot of water besides the pilot. This is a concern in that there is a lot of water to pump out after a typical self rescue. I would have liked less room by, for example, having an angled bulk-head close to the back-rest and less room in front of the (very comfortable) foot-pegs. I have attempted to lessen the water volume by outfitting with mini cell foam in some of the water space but have not had a chance to re-test.
Construction appears sturdy and first rate. There is enough material where needed, no more, this big boat can easily be carried or loaded on a full size SUV by one person. My boat weighs in at 56 lbs.
Summary: The Viviane is a full-size kayak with of room for a large occupant and gear. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to paddlers with good technique and good power, particularly if you are interested in making great progress across open water in all but the most challenging conditions.