Submitted: 08-05-2008 by aqualicious
I'm in my second season of paddling the grand lady of my banana brigade, the Royak, and must say that overall she is a good paddling machine. I personally like the unique torpedo shape with the bow shaped like a porpoise's head. I normally paddle the Royak on lakes and in the SF Bay and the boat handles pretty well.
The Royak has a built-in skeg with slight rocker and can be be little difficult to keep straight, especially on windy days. A good lean and a corrective stroke or two puts you back on course. In terms of speed, although the boat is 22" wide and 14' long, the hull is designed for multi-purpose paddling and therefore not a speed demon, especially on the flats. For touring and camping, if you are a take your time, enjoy the sights & sounds paddler, speed is decent with some good glide, definitely better than some other SOT barges. However, she really comes alive on waves, and that's where she shines. Going quickly into head winds, she rides effortlessly over the waves and surfs forward pretty fast. I don't have to paddle as hard and can concentrate on staying on course. You must be diligent on beam seas and rear quartering waves as she wants to turn on her own and can get a little ungainly. Initially stability is fair to good depending paddling experience and secondary stability is excellent. The boat has a lockable rear cargo hatch that can hold tons of gear.
The Royak is called the "little wet boat", and for good reason. The cockpit is form fitted and there is one drain hole that is separated from the cockpit by the molding located directly under the center grab handle. Water can accumulate so you can end up sitting in a puddle. Okay if you are wearing a wetsuit or paddle in warm water but should probably use a sponge. I would highly recommend a back pad and a PFD with thin or no back foam. After 1.5 - 3 hours of paddling, my back is pretty sore.
All in all, I think it is a fun and classic boat that still has relevancy in the modern era of the SOT.