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Submitted: 11-08-2012 by Marshall
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A little on the reviewer first:
I am biased towards P&H, Venture and Valley kayaks which is why I use them in my instructional fleet and carry them in my Showroom.

My paddling background; full time, the sport and the equipment is my year round job and vice-versa I am ACA L4 Coastal Kayak and L4 White Water Instructor, Adapative Paddling Certified at The River Connection, Inc. (9 West Market St., Hyde Park, NY 12538; www.the-river-connection.com).

My Specs: I am 6', 189lbs, size 11 shoe, 33" inseam and 32 waist. I paddle with a very high angle style and usually use a Mitchell Black Magic 215cm, a Saltwood Reggie 215cm or Werner Cyprus 215cm paddle and sometimes a 36" single blade Mitchell Touring Special as my back up. My usual ride is a Cetus MV (17'7"x21.5") or an Aries 155 if I'm playing in the surf or pool.

    Islay - Mfg. Information
  • Length 14'
  • Max. Width 23.75" (behind the cockpit)
  • Max Deck Height 13"
  • Volume 99gal.
  • Cockpit 31.5"x16.5" Inside Opening (30" from seat back to interior coaming edge, 19" seat width)
  • Weight 58lbs (including deck box) Rotomolded Polyethylene

    Features:

  • Skeg bungee spring released P&H foil blade
  • Deck Box, Security Bar
  • Flip top cockpit interior adjustable seat back
  • Twist Lock Foot Rails
  • Full Perimeter lines, deck bungees and end toggles.
  • Paddler Weight Range = 121lbs - 286lbs.
  • Colors : Electric Blue, Sunbeam (yellow mango), Lava (tangerine orange), Emerald
  • Price: $1300 The River Connection eBay! Storefront
Performance Overview:
This is a busy kayak category, the 14' Day Touring Kayak, with all the big box store WS Tsunamis, Perception Carolinas/Essence, etc. that are primarily designed to be a stable polite/automatic tracking ride with bulkheads.

The Islay breaks from the common sedate mold with a design that inspires confidence in it's stability range but also is a hoot to play with! With a long waterline running clear back to the end of the stern and with a sharp rake to the bow makes the glide on this 14' is appreciable and appreciated on a longer day's paddle. On an even keel tracking is very polite but does not feel as if it is cemented to the track you are on. With just a slight shift in body weight to heel the kayak into a skidding turn it comes around very sharply allowing you to turn on your pursuers and score while at Dodge-Sponge (yes, serious stuff this kayaking). Some of it's mobility can bee seen, especially in the aft portion of the hull, derived from the P&H Delphin and Aries. The Swedeform and greater volume amidships not only gives a very confident range of secondary stability but allows for the stems to break free when heeled up. In windier conditions there is the P&H Foil Skeg that spring deploys with the release of a up haul cord on deck left and aft of the cockpit.

The interior outfitting uses the Twist Lock Footbraces that can be adjusted from the seat. Fore/Aft adjustable thigh braces can be fine tuned (on land) to the paddlers leg length.
A security bar (lock point) is riveted in so as to keep your gear yours when cartopping.
The deck box is removable and makes for a very convenient day hatch for quite a few small items
The Flip Top back rest can be either in low mode which will not inhibit the use of a sprayskirt or if you are just hanging out on the water fishing or reading then it can be set to full Barca-Lounger mode. The backbend tension is adjusted by way of a forward ratchet seen on the left thigh brace.

At $1300 USD the Islay provides for a day touring kayak that doesn't feel as if you are parting the waters to make way and allows for a greater range of skills to develop, with confidence, rather than falling into the Beginners Boat - Multiple Upgrade Purchase scenario. For many that don't want or need the speed performance that a 17'+ hull would provide this could be an extremely fun and effective answer for the day to weekend overnighter kayaker.

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