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Submitted: 02-04-2010 by Marshall
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Originally my wife and I were introduced to the North Shore Kayaks by Ben Lawry. We were impressed at the performance and finish of the kayaks. Enough so that we brought the line into our Instructional Fleet and Showroom at The River Connection in Hyde Park, NY, following our philosophy of we only carry what we enjoy paddling. So like my review of the P&H Scorpio, I have a bias towards these kayaks as I thoroughly enjoy using them.

My Specs:
I am 6', 188lbs, size 11 shoe, 33" inseam and 34 waist. I paddle with a very high angle style and usually use a Mitchell Black Magic 215cm or a Werner Cyprus 215cm paddle.

North Shore Polar Kayak Specs:
Length 16'9"
Width 21.5"
Volume: 92.5 gallons
Weight: 53lbs w/3 VCP hatches on.

Water Conditions: Hudson River freshwater at Hyde Park, NY. Enough ice has thawed out today to allow me to actually move around without dodging floes. 3 miles to the north the river is still socked in with ice. Barely any wind. Flooding tide at approximately 2mph current speed.

Performance: (using Garmin Oregon 400C gps unit) {YMMV}
Fast Maintainable Cruising Speed = 5.2-5.4 mph traveling abeam of the current
Sprinting Speed = 6.3mph traveling abeam of the current
Weather Cocking no wind present
Skeg Performance makes the kayak track dead on at full deployment. Minimal influence on speed.

The Polar's primary stability is predictable but sprightly. More like a sports car feel. Quick to respond but not unforgiving. What becomes evident is the dynamite secondary stability. Bringing the kayak up on edge it still had range of secondary stability beyond what my flexibility would allow. At 60 degrees of heel the kayak was still quite happy parking on it's side but I simply couldn't lift any higher. I used a convenient ice floe for a two fingertips balance so as to exaggerate the heel. When I finally tilted past approximately 75 degrees of heel I could feel the kayak start to turn turtle. This is one of the few kayaks I've been in that I can actually do a balance brace in.

I've been having way to much fun with this kayak at pool sessions for it's nimbleness. Playing slalom amongst other boaters in the pool has been lots of fun with this kayak. (It's frozen around here at this time of year. Gotta take your fun as you can get it.) The rocker over the length of this kayak is responsible for this with 4.5" of rise in the bow and 3.5" of rise in the stern keel line before the rake to the ends of the kayak. For that amount of curvature in the length of the hull I'm surprised at the quick clip that the Polar maintains underway. On flat conditions a skidding turn (heeling the boat to the outside of the turn) with 45 degrees of tilt and full sweep strokes resulted in a 22' diameter turn. Going in reverse with the same amount of heel and reverse sweep strokes was a 14' diameter turn. My best forward turn with 60 degrees of heel coupled with a bow rudder completing into a bow draw at the end of momentum resulted in a 14'-15' diameter turn.

Construction and Outfitting:
As I mentioned in my Introduction the North Shore line is very nicely finished and appointed. Fiberglass with gel coat is the only available layup with a palate choice of Red, Tangerine, Yellow or White Deck with Black seam and White Hull or Royal Blue Deck with Yellow Seam and White Hull. The North Shore label is amid ships either side of the freeboard hull and highlighted by a "Color Flash" which is a splash of color the same as the deck color.

Starting at the bow, the deck rises from the seam line in a angled flare to a low flatish deck which has a height of 11.5" from the bottom of the hull. The appearance looks much lower from the cockpit though. There is plenty of space for large sized feet and long legs due to the corners formed by the hard chines and foot rails that are placed well forward. Rescue toggles are tethered so as not to dangle but have bushings around the cord to make the toggle stand above the deck for easy grip while in the water. The toggles can unclip from a convenient stainless ring that held by the end recessed deck fittings (rdfs) which I find handy for bow/stern tie downs while cartopping. Low profile rdfs are used through out the hull with stainless Phillips head machine screws that set into glassed in lock nuts so there are no additional penetrations through the hull. A 70P compass recess is standard on all models.

A VCP 8" dayhatch and large 11"x18" oval hatch covers make storage easy in the main bow and stern compartments. All hatches are tethered on to the perimeter lines. The cockpit opening measures 29.5"x15.75" inside of coaming,with a 26.5" measurement from the rear of the seating surface to the front coaming, which is just enough for my 33" inseam legs to clear without contacting my shins against the coaming edge. Thighbraces are part of the coaming and provide good coverage allowing for contact and control. The edges of the thighbraces are not curved dramatically so I did not find them impinging on my legs (23" thigh circumference). The front deck clearance is 11.5" and the rear is 8" from the seat pan to the top of the rear coaming. (9" from the hull to the top of the rear coaming) The lip of the coaming is 3/4" off the recess on deck so it takes a bungee randed skirt just fine but caution should be used if a rubber randed skirt is used. The coaming lip is 1" deep.

The seat is moderately contoured with a seat pan covering of nylon/thermoformed cushion and a 15" width for the hips with the same cushioned hip pads in place. These are on quick release straps so they can be adjusted or removed quite easily. The backband measures 5.5"x14" with a covering of the same style cushioning which rises just above the back coaming but pivots easily enough so as not to get in the way of entries into the kayak. While I usually don't use a back-band I found that I liked this one as it kept me forward in the seat and my tailbone off the rise at the back of the seat. Adjustment for the back-band is by a broad Velcro strap that is best adjusted before getting on the water.

The pricing on the four solo kayaks by North Shore is $3200 which in comparison to other prices of similar class kayaks is several hundred dollars less.

I can see this kayak is going to be a nimble favorite of mine for 2010 and am looking forward to getting amongst some waves to try it out in the surf.

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