Submitted: 10-12-2010 by AC7880
My wife and I test paddled the new style CD Kestrel 140 SOT (foot brace has tracks instead of stepped braces, but it has a higher seat than the old style). It was at a Demo day, and the Kestrel had the factory seat installed in it, no thigh/knee straps on it.
Compared to our RTM Discos it was faster, but a good bit more "tippy" on initial stability. I was able to take it to almost the gunwale without going over, but could tell it was as far as it could go without dumping. It was tippy at rest, and also while paddling. Neither of us dumped it, and both of us thought we could adapt to it.
I tried the Kestrel 140 SINK (same exact hull design), and it was very stable with the factory seat about 1.5" off the deck. This lead me to believe that the old style kestrel SOT with the deeper seat bucket would be more stable than the new design SOT.
Another taller paddler tried the 140 SOT extensively, and he intentionally was pushing it to and beyond the limits (right next to shore). He dumped it at least 3 times, but was not discouraged by that. He'll likely buy one.
My wife and I talked it over and decided to see what deals we could make. Another shop we visited the day before had old styles for $1300, new for $1699, and would give us $375 trade in per RTM Disco, but only on the new style boats (more profit margin).
The shop who hosted the demo day had the old style for $1399, new for $1640, and would do $250 trade in per RTM Disco. For us it was a toss up on old versus new. We really liked the foot brace track on the new style, but also really liked the deeper seat for more stability on the older style.
On the older style, the deeper seat does not bother us at all, but the stepped braces do put pressure on the leg. On the RTM Disco stepped braces, they are only on the sides and do not put pressure on our legs. On the old style Kestrel the braces are on the sides, but also on the bottom, and are a fairly sharp edge that feels uncomfortable (on the bottom side). I have some ideas on mitigating that.
Sitting in the older style, we both fit one stepped foot brace bare-footed, but were between with our normal paddling water shoes on. The dealer put in a Hobie seat with thicker back rest as a test, and then we both fit. He offered to throw in the Hobie seats along with the original seats.
I asked them to drop the price from $1399 to $1300, and take the Discos in trade at the offered total of $500, with 2 seats per boat (original and thicker back rest Hobie seat). They took the deal. We left the shop with 2 older style Kestrels which we still had not paddled yet (only the newer style demo).
On the way home we tried the Kestrels with the deeper seat pan in Tampa Bay. With the Hobie thicker back rest seat in, it was a fair amount less tippy than the new design with the higher seat pan. I took the seat out, and sat directly in the pan - and it was only a bit more tippy feeling than our Discos were. I will experiment with the 2 seats, and just sitting in the pan before deciding what to do.
My wife is more stable on both old and new style Kestrels than I. She is lighter by 60 lbs, and shorter. We sat on the water side by side and could easily see the difference in "tippiness".
At our normal paddling touring/cruising pace (easy pace), the Kestrel was between 1/2 mph to .9 mph faster than the Discos pace, both up tidal flow and down tidal flow as per GPS. Both boats are 14' * 26", but longer water line (less rocker), Swede form, a bit more V, and "slicker" on the kestrel.
We are happy with our trade, but need to work on the pressure of the stepped braces on the bottom edge. I have some ideas to try with foam to even them out to level under the legs - and may test with duct tape first to see if it might work.