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Submitted: 08-31-2011 by mbs
I have owned the boat (royalex) for 2 years and have logged over 3000km of river trips and 700 km of lake trips in northern BC and Yukon. It has been on the Stikine, Spatsizi, Tunagain, Gataka, Kechika, Dease, Morice, Telkwa, Kispiox, Weaton and Wind to name a few. The boat is great in ww; it accelerates quickly even when loaded, is easy to eddy, peel out, ferry. It can take a large load and has enough freeboard for ww. The boat tracks well on lakes, but is horrible in the wind, even when spray decked and paddled Canadian Style. The royalex is nice and warm to sit in versus a kevlar boat. Some of my friends who are novice/intermediate paddlers have complained that it is difficult to track on flat water, my intermediate/advanced paddler friends have no difficulties. All complain about tracking in wind.
My biggest complaints about the boat are the lack of a yoke and the fixed seat/seat position. If Novacraft advertises the boat as a solo tripper, they need to provide a yoke for portage. I drilled the gunnals and made a removable yoke (the balance point is just in front of the seat, so you cannot paddle with the yoke in place, hence the removable yoke). The seat position is ok, however an adjustable seat would make this boat a 10/10. An adjustable seat would allow you to trim the boat according to the load. I have made my own and am much happier with the boat now that I can trim it properly. I lowered the seat 3 inches for stability in ww. Also, forget about putting any gear behind the seat unless you have a lot of weight in front to counterbalance it. The boat is very sensitive to load, it will not eddy/ferry/peel out well if not loaded properly. To solve this I put a large air bag behind the seat so that I can't put any gear behind me.
The quality of the boat is excellent with one minor complaint, the vinyl gunnals are slightly cupped and funnel water into the boat.
Stability is excellent, I have taken it through 3+ ww and into 6-7 foot wave trains (loaded and unloaded) and the boat is reasonably dry, and very, very stable. This is very important in the cold northern waters where I paddle. Joining the swim team in northern waters is very unpleasant, this boat keeps me from that.
I have not been gentle with this boat and paddle it like I stole it. The hull is in remarkably great shape, with only minor scratches and one small dent.
As far as a ww playboat, it is marginaly acceptable; but it is not really designed for that purpose. I will stick with my Dagger Ovation and Hellman Otter for heavy ww.
If you are looking for a solid ww tripping boat and are willing to spend some time and money customizing it this is a great boat. There are probably better lake tripping solo boats, but this one is just OK, it's real home is ww.
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