Submitted: 05-17-2010 by wavespinner
One might wonder why Confluence would position a "touring kayak" within its moving water brand. One would only need to paddle the Alchemy. This paddler is a short-legged 5'10" with size 11 feet. I went with the larger model because of my "bike rider" thighs. I paddle 2-3 times a week, open and white water.
The search was for a mid-range boat with some performance and versatility. The significant rocker of the Alchemy (somewhat unusual in a 14-footer) caught my eye and turned out to be the decisive factor.
The hull is of reasonably good quality, with decent rigging and grab loops. I'm not a big fan of pop-on hatches, but don't see them as a major drawback. The skeg control is well recessed and functions reasonably well. When you want help going straight, it makes itself known.
Overall, the outfitting is above average. The seat is comfortable and the backband permits laying back. I favor this over a chair back seat that impedes torso rotation. With the performance this boat is capable of, I'd have preferred a ratcheted backband or something more easily adjustable from the cockpit. The thigh braces will satisfy most paddlers. But, anyone who wants to throw this around will want to engineer something more aggressive. The footpegs are easily adjustable, but I have some reservations about the durability. Nothing has broken, but I like something more substantial to kick at.
I believe they missed the boat with the stiffener that runs along the keel. They could've incorporated a bottle holder there. This is a boat you'll want to take into bumpy stuff and you won't enjoy your bottle rolling around.
This boat invites you to dive into the foam and have a ball doing it. The rocker provides ample spinnability, but lay it over on an edge and you've really got something going. Decent speed, predictable stability, unreal maneuverability and rolls like a log. Have a blast in the surf zone, rock garden or on a moderately fast moving river.
This boat is hard to classify. It paddles something like a long "crossover" kayak with harder edge. If I was going long and strong with a load, I'd take a different boat. But, if you want a fun rough water craft without busting up some expensive composite or the credit card limit, I'd slide in here.