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Submitted: 06-24-2013 by TheSubaruGuru
I'd finally arrived at an original P&H Cetus C/K a few years ago, thinking I'd have the perfect all-rounder. But skeg-dependency and near-constant percussive bow pounding in chop proved quite tiresome; learning to load the front hatch first was only a slight remedy. So I bought an Impex Force5 as a true, wind-insensitive, fast cruiser that lean-turned beautifully. A bit dead in the water, but responsive...like a good dog. But the Forces don't surf well, nor like following seas, zig-zagging a bit much.
Realizing that having TWO hulls was better than one, it was a no-brainer to seek a MATE to the Force5 for rock-play, surfing, and general fun. The Vaag has proved to be all of this.
Its strong rocker allows amazing turning on waves and in rock-play, as well it accelerates strongly. It's only a bit less skeg-dependent than the old Cetus, but is generally easier to bring around. Although quick off the line, its tracking is less stable than the Forces, of course, especially in chop. Although not as noisily percussive as the Cetus, it's like a puppy that will, in automobile tire parlance, "tramline" easily. This grows tiresome on a long day. So I reserve the Vaag for what it does best: surf as well as ANY hull I've tried, play in the rocks; although it keeps up with most hulls on long days, it's more work doing so than the Force (or other long-waterline efficient cruisers.)
Dealers try to sell the Vaag (and shorter/smaller Vital) as great all-rounders, but it's clear that the genesis...a perfect surfer for a big guy (Maelstrom's founder)... is what this fun hull is all about. Further, the maker describes the hull as being a great "side-surfer". In the hands (and butt) of a skilled paddler this trait allows extreme hip-flick maneuverability. But one must pay attention, as following quarter seas can side-slip the stern a bit unnervingly, too. Trimming via loading the rear hatch first tames this a bit.
So if you can afford two hulls, you should check out the Vaag (or Vital if much smaller than my 5'11" 180lbs) for the fun-play-surf-rock end of the spectrum, and chase a fast cruiser for the long-mileage days. Note that all-Kevlar Vaags were made in the last year of Boreal's production, are superb, and a nice 50lbs. A Brunton 85R sits perfectly on the bow, and is much more readable than a 70.
Now the bad part: I HATED the OE seat system, as I did the Impex's. So BOTH kayaks now have P&H Cetus seats and backbands carefully glued/screwed into them. Indeed it's nice to have a playboat and cruiser that are nearly the same length, weight, and have identical cockpit accoutrements. I think I'm done....
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