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Submitted: 07-29-2013 by rlthayer

I have fifty-seven years of paddling experience with nearly every configuration of boat and every fabrication material, from graphite outriggers, to ultralight Kevlar racing canoes, to roto-molded polyethylene surf/river kayaks to Royalex ABS "beater" boats. I took a chance buying a Delta Twelve-Ten kayak, made out of thermoformed plastic, believing the advertising that this material was as durable as polyethylene and as light and sleek as fiberglass.

Recently I mishandled the kayak unloading it from the car-top rack, and the bow dropped five feet, sustaining a foot-long crack, rendering the kayak totally dysfunctional. The accident was my fault. However, my $1,500 experiment with a new "miracle" kayak material has proven a failure; I would have expected much better impact resistance. One kayak dealer warned me against my purchase of this material for that very reason, and I should have heeded his advice.

Although the Delta is a stylish and nicely performing kayak, it is NOT impact resistant. I will not be buying another Delta kayak, nor any kayak made from thermoformed plastic, for that matter. Stay away from this kayak if you canít treat it delicately!

"I'm very sorry to hear about the incident with your Delta 12.10. I can understand your frustration and disappointment especially since it sounds like you have not owned the boat for long.

Just to be clear, we have never advertised or claimed that our thermoformed kayaks are as impact resistant as polyethylene kayaks or that they are made from some kind of miracle material. White water kayaks are made exclusively from PE for this reason.

We do claim that our thermoformed material offers several advantages over both FG & PE kayaks. Generally they are more durable than fibreglass and also on average as light and often lighter (depending on the glass lay-up). They are usually much lighter than PE kayaks. They are much more resistant to warping and deformation than PE kayaks.

They are more abrasion resistant than either PE or FG and there is no gel coat to maintain or wear through so generally they require less maintenance. The hard outer surface stands up very well to beach landings. The material is also more UV resistant than either gel coated fibreglass or PE and will not fade or lose it's shine.

As far as direct impact goes they are generally quite tough but certainly not unbreakable. If the impact happens against a hard surface on a spot where the material cannot yield or flex then a break can occur. For instance, there was a instance where a roof rack came detached from a vehicle on a freeway. Two of the kayaks were thermoformed Delta's (a 12.10 and a longer model) the other boat was fibreglass. The two Delta's survived with only some road rash while the glass boat was a total write off.

You may have seen a popular YouTube video of a "hammer test" on one of our hulls. A standard carpenters hammer is used by a very strong man hitting the hull as hard as possible multiple times. The test is 100% authentic and unrehearsed. Of course he is hitting the bottom of the hull and not on the keel of the boat. Can you imagine what that test would have done to a fibreglass hull? So the point is, the material is very durable and tougher than most composites "but" if it is impacted just the right way in the wrong place it can break.

We have made thousands of kayaks over the years and continue to do so. Many of our customers are avid paddlers and outfitters that use the boats often and don't baby them. They know the material can handle a fair amount of abuse within reason. We have many repeat customers who own several of our boats and outfitters that have dozens.

There are many dealers who have all but eliminated composite kayaks from their inventory because of the high retail cost and the repair and maintenance issues. I'm not knocking composites kayaks. There are still some good manufacturers and they will always have a place in the industry.
The trucking companies have a higher freight class (more expensive) for composite boats than for our thermoformed boats because ours are considered a lower risk for damage.

A well known competitor of ours who historically made exclusively composite kayaks now make exclusively thermoformed kayaks from the very material we use. I doubt they would do this if the material was inferior. Obviously neither of us would be in business very long if the material did not perform.

If you dropped the boat from five feet onto (concrete?) as you say, and it landed directly on the keel where there is no flex then yes it "could" break although I am surprised the break is as large as it is.
Another advantage of the thermoformed material is the ease of repair. The boat can be easily repaired and will be very structurally sound once repaired. If you are interested we can send you a repair kit at no charge. It would be good to see a picture of the damage so we can assist you in a successful repair.

Hopefully we can be of some assistance and regain at least some of your lost confidence in the thermoformed material and most importantly our brand. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do."

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