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Submitted: 04-24-2013 by t.george
What an amazing boat. I purchased my Reflection from Dan Arbuckle almost two months ago at the Headwaters shop in Lodi, CA. It is a "1 inch cut" that Dan had ordered & used for himself but turned out to not fit him as good as he'd hoped.(Sterling's Kayaks are available in different volumes for a better fit, check their site for more info). This particular kayak is a heavier "rock garden" custom layup with some carbon and dynel or some other such beyond me wonder material added in by Sterling. Dan let me take & demo the boat on my own in some punishing surf near Halfmoon Bay & I was sold. It was by far the stiffest stoutest boat I've ever taken a nasty beatdown in. To say the Reflection is special in the surf is an understatement, it's in a class of it's own.
I feel I've put enough time in it now to put out an honest and accurate (perhaps somewhat limited), opinon & review.
For it's performance and measuring up to the hype I've read & heard from other Reflection owners it's an 11 or 12 out of 10 at the least. If however, you're looking for cosmetic perfection, you'll have to look elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a beautiful boat, the rocker, the lines of the deck, coaming & chines etc, but to be honest, the finish is a bit on the funky side. Granted mine is from the original molds from before the fire; my understanding is the new molds have deleted many of the irregularities of the original. Aside from the irregularities, the otherwise wonderful & unique skeg is temperamental (now newly redesigned I hear), and the Sealect hatches are seldom watertite,(though I've never had one implode or pop off in pounding surf).
Specs, I believe, say 15'9", my tape pulling from stern to bow says 15'11", either way just under 16'. The deck rigging is clean and adequate for a playboat, there's rigging under the deck for a pump & a minicell foam seat.
Now for the reason to look into one of these:
Solid primary stability, seemingly endless rock solid secondary stability, extreme response to paddler input, surf, sidesurf, backsurf, do cutbacks, run out wave faces... anything you've done once in another boat that you'd like to be able to do again becomes an at will occurrence with this boat with a wee bit of practice. It is so forgiving it'll actually set you up to do what you should. Great fun on the river as well. Oh yeah, it rolls super easily if your form is good, but all that secondary will punish bad form. The cruising speed is not fast, but fast enough to keep up on flat water & moreso on rough water.
Bottom line, after about two months I'm kicking myself for not getting one sooner. I may amend this review in the future, but for now, all the best & thanks Sterling!
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