Submitted: 05-12-2008 by Navkram
I recently purchased an ancient (70s?)Phoenix Isere and I am impressed with its utility. The light weight was the attraction for me (as well as the low used price). My claim (yet to be disproved) is that Kayak use is inversely proportional to weight. I have a nice river 150 yards behind my home and the Isere makes kayaking an attractive workout option. By comparison, my Prijon Kodiak is a strain just to get to the river. The tracking is good but I would say that the Isere would be improved by a rudder in that it assures complete equality in left/right strokes and allows the paddler to use wider, lower strokes. The Isere is fairly wide (as it should be at 14ft) and large volume so weather cocking and wide strokes are to be expected. By comparison, the Kodiak is useless with the rudder up, better with rudder down. The stability is not as high as I would like but I am sure this is due to the seat height more than an inch over the bottom. I plan to angle cut the seat mount and move it to the bottom and rearward.
My needs could be unique as I am 6’ 2” and quite top-heavy. The Isere is fast for its length but beyond this it is more pleasurable than other fast kayaks because it gets up to speed so fast due to the light weight. The 14ft waterline is about optimal with low surface area drag bringing you well past hull speed. The bottom stays smooth because the thin hull gives rather than focusing weight and scratching. Nylon and fiberglass doesn’t sound high performance but the result is more capable than many Kevlar hulls I have seen.