Submitted: 03-29-2009 by Gudding
What an extraordinary boat!
Contrary to some previous reviewers' opinions, one does not need a rudder for this boat. You just need to learn how to paddle it correctly -- which is the case with any boat, but moreso with this one. A boat of this kind is highly responsive. This means that the paddler must be highly responsive. If one is used to recreational kayaks or more traditional sea kayaks, -- boats with extended keels, wide flares, and hard chines -- this boat will initially appear touchy. You might find yourself padding in a track and then, as if all of a sudden, the boat will veer right or left. In fact, this apparently sudden veering is not sudden at all: this happens because your paddling has been consistently uneven and a pressure differential has built up on one side of the bow. This slight differential goes goes unnoticed at first, due to its subtlety, but it gradually increases until the boat "kicks" right or left. All boats do this, but usually in less pronounced ways.
This is easily countered if you
(a) pay attention to the boat's bow wake, keeping both wake flows even in shape,
(c) learn how to edge.
If you learn these simple skills, you will find this kayak will handle with extraordinary grace. This attentiveness will eventually become second nature.
I purchased this boat for river touring and have used it extensively for both upstream and downstream travel. It handles extraordinarily well. It is FAST. Not as fast on a straightaway as a typical sea kayak, but its net speed on a river or in any highly dynamic mix of currents is -- because of its rocker, long length, and high volume -- much faster than longer, slimmer kayaks.
Its durability, stability, speed, and volume (including its storage capacity), make this, in my opinion, the ideal boat.
Have no qualms about taking it in rough water. Took it on a flooded river recently. Felt very very safe at flood stage with a strong spray skirt: downed trees, strainers, fast and high water, complex eddy lines, boils, holes, drops: No problem.
It also looks like no other boat, except the old Kleppers, I've ever seen. Slightly looks like the early (1970s) whitewater yaks of yore.
It's also bomb proof.