Submitted: 06-16-2011 by ttphilo
A very good boat; an annoying skeg problem.
Overall, it seems like a great boat with some exciting design advances and performance attributes. I've taken it out for a maiden voyage in flat water but haven't put it through it's real test in turbulance/surfing. The whitewater cockpit outfitting is very nice and from my perspective a generally overdue feature to sea kayaks. The front center day hatch is also a great feature, very convenient and likely to become standard issue in the industry.
This boat handles best on flatwater when you are underway, creating a bow wave. If you are a lollygagging paddler, the combo of aggressive rocker under the bow and a cockpit that has been pushed back a bit will result in the bow being out of the water. This shortens your waterline and results in being more prone to weathercocking. Once underway, with some vigor, this becomes much less of an issue. I also found it very easy to roll. The outfitting in the cockpit makes the boat an extension of your body and she quickly responds to your movements. I really liked this body/boat connection, it's quite noticeable.
Overall, it is a well made, British boat from a company with a strong and well deserved reputation. There is one fly in the soup however… the skeg system. They recently redesigned their skey system to eliminate potential kinking problems with a skeg cable and to make field repairs much easier. That they have successfully done. This system also allows you to trim the skeg and lock in whatever position you choose.
Unfortunately, the system does have some issues. The click slider slides along the slider bar, push it forward to unlock it, slide it forward to retract the skeg and backward to deploy the skeg. The slider has a release button in it that catches on a notched system allowing you to trim the skeg to any degree of deployment. Retracting the skeg is where the problem is. When you push the slider forward, the skeg retracts, however, when you release the slider button the bungie tension pulls the slider back a bit before it locks on a notch. This results in the skeg being partially deployed even though you have pushed the lever all the way forward. The more tension on the bungie (in the skeg box) the more the skeg remains deployed. The only work around is to push the skeg slider forward without touching the click slider button. This requires some special focus, you need to push the slider forward with your finger tip (finger pointed straight and used as if a pencil or stick). You can also do this with your thumb tip. This works, but is not ideal. Versus not having to look at what you are doing, you need to be very deliberate and focused, likely not an issue for the vast majority of situations. Doing this if you are wearing a neoprene glove is much more challenging as the space you must push on with your fingertip is not big enough to accommodate a digit inside a neoprene glove without hitting the click slider button and resulting in a partially deployed skeg. Obviously, this will compromise your maneuverability.
If my description sounds confusing watch this video which features the skeg system in detail:
You can decrease the tension on the bungie cord in the skeg box by moving the bundie knot back, but I've found this does not resolve the problem as in order for it to eliminate the issue I've described you need to eliminate almost all tension and you end up having a floppy skeg.
An annoyance to an otherwise fine boat.