Submitted: 01-13-2009 by YakOfSteel
Never having been on WW before (only flat, slow-moving rivers), I was invited to The New River in WV and offered an SOT for the c-2's and 3 from Thurmond to Cunard. Turned out to be a Torrent. The owner forgot the thigh straps, so we rigged some NRS tie-down straps, which only worked partially. I swam the first hole under the RR bridge after failing to see it until too late and getting sucked in sideways. Then I started figuring the thing out in the proceeding wave trains for the next hour or so. I'm used to paddling non-stop, so in the flats as everyone in my group was passively floating, I was paddling circles around them getting a feel for the boat and to keep active.
I'm used to a 14' day-touring kayak, so this was quite different. But in no time I was able to track straight and get some good speed. I loved that I could plant my paddle off the bow and do a 180 turn in seconds. That was fun compared to a straight gliding long boat. I found that it was tough to stay behind my group, mostly in SINK ww playboats. When they weren't paddling all out, I had to backpaddle once in awhile to keep from overtaking them. But I also had to keep paddling to keep it straight, like someone else stated below. This yak won't glide in a straight line for 2 seconds before it's spinning. Nothing wrong with that, as that's what it's designed to do, ie, be very maneuverable.
I ended up learning this boat within a couple of hours, stayed on it through a class 3 rapid (Surprise), and ended up swimming the last rapid again before the take out at Cunard when I got slammed between two standing waves coming together. I think lack of proper thigh straps did me in on that one. But self-rescue is easy on it, the beauty of an SOT.
I really liked this boat; enough so that I bought a used one in perfect condition for $250. Don't know that I'll ever be able to roll it like some can, but I'll at least try to learn that, and look forward to more time in it in some more technical stuff. It will never replace my longer SINK's, but has it's place.
One thing I plan to do is add some bungee lines on the bow and stern to hold dry bags, and at bare minimum, a backstrap. Although I was comfortable in this boat while paddling, sitting in one place for any time at all was murder on my back with no support. For that, lack of factory-installed bungees, and it being no real comparison to real WW playboats, I give this boat a 7. But make no mistake, for someone w/o a roll, wanting to experience some mild WW with virtually no learning curve and easy self-rescuing, this boat's a 10.