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Submitted: 03-12-2013 by Mjw
I have owned a plastic Tempest 170 for a little over a year now. I have probably paddled it about 500km in that time in a variety of conditions from flat river to open southern ocean in winds to about force 4.
Compared to a number of other kayaks I have paddled, the primary stability is lower than some, but I have not found that a problem. My wife, who is less experienced, while having a problem, finds it less confidence inspiring. Secondary stability is by good. I have found I need to try to push it over and, apart from one bad broaching on a 1m following swell beach landing, I have yet to go over without doing so deliberately. I paddle around Western Australia near Perth which is a pretty windy place (Fremantle doctor sees 20knot winds on a regular basis). A lot of people around this area recommend the use of a rudder as a result. While there have been a few times in bigger winds that I have thought a rudder might be nice, I have found that I could manage reasonably well without; with just the skeg. Crossing oblique to wind in an up wind direction requires a reasonable degree of edge and a bit of offset paddling to maintain course with skew down nonetheless. Direct into the wind or any direction down wind is no problem, particularly with the skeg down (particularly downwind). In lesser conditions, I find that the ability to adjust the extent of the triangular skeg useful to tailor the amount of directional stability it gives. Most of the time a little above half way seems to be the sweet spot. Curiously I have found that the boat seems to edge more reliably with the skeg in this position than with it fully up.
As to edging, it is reasonable, but not wonderful. In flat or low wind conditions it edges quite well, but particularly downwind it takes some effort. In some ways this is good. I love surfing into the shore and have found to stability makes this pretty easy, but, when you have to adjust, it takes a bit more than a lift of the knee to make that correction.
Speed: it is reasonably fast boat, but I have to work hard to keep up with a couple of my friends who have less efficient paddle strokes, but quicker fibreglass boats. I can relatively easily maintain, on flat water, an average of about 7.5 km/hr (4 knots), holding it about 8km (4.5ish knots) for any length of time is hard work.
Quality: hmmmmnnn.... Overall the quality is reasonable to good. I have had no failures or issues with the boat, and this includes the much maligned hatches and bulkheads (these have been through many big paddles in decent waves with virtually not a drop of water inside the hatches after and extensive roll practice sessions with a similar outcome).
Really my only complaint is the stiffness of the boat. It gets hot in Perth (40 degrees C is not unusual it he summer). Above about 30 degrees C the boat is a noodle. Trundling it to the water sees the bottom deformed and requires some effort to push back into place. Once it hits the water, this gets a bit better, bit it remains notably flexible. My wife paddles a Easky 15, also plastic, which displays none of these characteristics.
My other minor complaint, is the way in which the deck bungies are mounted and tied just to the forward of the cockpit. While the figments are slightly recessed, the bungies are tied at this point, from the factory. They sit just right to catch your thumb if your stroke isn't just right, particularly in wavy conditions! I have moved the ropes back so they finish on the figment one forward. However, I still get this on occasion. A relatively minor change to the position, or redesign would probably fix this problem which has seen me with skinned and sore thumbs many times.
Overall a good boat. Better suited to someone a little more experienced as less experienced paddles who have used this comment on how tippy it is (referring to the primary stability really). The pro model would no doubt overcome the flexibility issues, and if you don't live in a very hot climate, this is probably much less of an issue. I paddle with a high entry style, so a low entry style would probably have less problems with the fitments issue.
A good boat that will keep a more experienced paddler happy and allow someone with a bit of experience to advance their skills.
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