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Submitted: 09-17-2013 by RMB
I firmly believe that you should steer clear of reviews that begin with "I'm new to kayaking" or "This is my first kayak", etc. Not being snobbish, but if I want to know how a car performs, I would not ask someone who just got their license or purchased their first car last week. I am slightly younger than some of the rivers I've run, have owned white water kayaks, rented sit on tops and paddled ocean surf, quiet lakes class 3 to 4 white water and consider myself intermediate - not expert. Size makes all the difference when discussing kayaks. I am male, 5'8" and 175lb.
Now on to the kayak.
I bought this kayak at the Toronto sportsman show way back in 1999, so I have a long history with this boat. After 14yrs, the kayak still looks good with only minor surface scratches.
The Good: This kayak is close to bullet proof (as are most rotomolded kayaks). It tracks like it is on rails and has reasonable speed. Primary and secondary stability are quite predictable. There is ample room in the forward and stern compartments to pack for a multi-day trip. It has stood up to the elements quite well. The hatches are reasonably but not completely waterproof.
The Bad: If I were to describe the seat in a single word, that word would be crude. Only slight adjustment for back rest angle and padding is nonexistent. Not a problem if you are going out for a short paddle, but after an hour you have to get out and stretch your legs. I bought my wife a WS Tsunami 135 and the seat in it immediately made me want to upgrade or get another boat. Guests look at the seat in mine, then hers and always choose the Tsunami. I always thought my boat was fast until my wife got the Tsunami. Although her boat is 2ft shorter, she can keep up with me quite easily. This may be partly due to the fact that over the years my boat has developed a warp that runs side to side right under the seat. I suspect at speed, this acts like an air (water?) brake. The same long keel line that makes this kayak track so well (it actually has negative rocker!) works against it when it comes time to turn. It must be aggressively edged or a lot of sweep stroke energy goes into changing direction (I do not have a rudder). Also, when the wind pipes up, it has a strong tendency to weather cock.
One place you do NOT want to take this kayak is surf! Other reviewers have noted its short comings here. If you look at pictures of this boat, you will see the bow is very slender. This translates into little buoyancy. Going out into the surf, the kayak will punch through each wave, rather than riding up over the waves. This will get you very wet. Surfing in, the nose will bury itself in the trough as you ride a wave and immediately broach. In large, regular swells it rides well but in surf this is one scary boat.
So why didn't I rate it lower than a 7? Truth is, 95% of all kayak owners use their kayaks on calm lakes and rivers at their cottages and seldom paddle more than an hour or two. Those that shoot Class 4 white water or go out in 10ft ocean swells are rare individuals. This is a tough, durable kayak that is relatively fast and easy to feel comfortable in at your cottage on the lake and cost $1000 less than many similar kayaks.
If used within its limitations it is a capable enough boat. It is not a top of the line sea kayak, but you are not paying top of the line prices here either.
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