Submitted: 05-06-2011 by Simon Jackson
This kayak fills the gap between the touring kayaks and sea kayaks.
This kayak does handle very much like a sea kayak, it is fast, straight running and gives a dry ride in chop, there doesn't seem to be any problem with weathercocking but it did seem to blow sideways in strong winds, I expected the kayak to be more maneuverable than it is but a bit of tilting helps no end, just like a sea kayak! Initial stability is moderate to high with good secondary stability.
I found the cockpit to be slightly on the large size with a high foredeck, I'm 6ft skinny, a lower volume version will be available and I look forward to seeing that.
The hatches are valley rubber, front is a round and the rear is slightly oval and large, I could get my Eckla trolley in the stern without taking it apart, I'm a fan of the simpler two hatch design. a little extra thought could have gone into the placement of RDFs on the rear deck as there is nowhere to park a split paddle.
There is a carbon stiffening rod that runs the centre section through both bulkheads, this makes it very hard to seal the bulkheads and my front bulkhead leaks water from the cockpit into the front compartment, NS/Valley say the kayaks are air tested, but as this is the third kayak I've had from them with leaks on the bulkheads/hatch rims/cockpit coaming, I don't believe them. If you're buying a valley/NS boat have it double checked before laying out cash. Apart from this the quality seems pretty good.
Overall very impressed...