Submitted: 10-22-2001 by Jonathan Long
I have been paddling a Romany Explorer for almost four years. I bought the GP this spring and have paddled it 2/3's of the time logging hundreds of hours this season. The Romany is a benchmark boat that many people are familiar with and I will use it to compare the GP to during this review.
I have been racing the GP since the spring in all sorts of conditions. During races of one hour or less (3-6 miles) I have been able to maintain at least 6 mph average speed using a Werner Kuai or a Superior Carbon greenland paddle. I find the GP much easier to maintain a fast pace with than the Romany. The GP's hard chines resist weathercocking better than the Romany (I should mention that I weigh 220#) and I also find that the GP responds to 'hip steering' (lean initiated turns) which makes it a better boat in big water with one exception: The stern on the GP is finer than the Romany and I discovered the hard way that the GP does not back surf as well tending to pearl and ender, exciting but not something I consistently enjoy. The GP's speed, stability and ability to maneuver make it an excellent boat in big water. We are splitting hairs here comparing it to the Romany as both are just excellent in wind and waves.
There are not many boats out there that roll as easily as the Romany. The GP rolls very easily but resists slightly more than the Romany. I have begun paddling with a Greenland paddle this summer and learning all the different maneuvers that go with the paddle: behind the head rolls, one arm rolls, throwing stick rolls etc. I sometimes paddle the Romany and have discovered that everything is just ever so slightly easier with the Romany than the GP, subjective but true nonetheless.
The GP is almost as big inside as the Romany so with low volume gear and a spartan attitude trips of two weeks or less should not pose a problem with the GP.
The GP I own has no day hatch and subsequently the large flat rear deck deflects quite easily. Storing the boat on a rack or cartopping or doing rear deck rescue stuff the deck will easily dimple in flexing quite a bit. I would recommend installing a removable foam pillar (perhaps with velcro at the ends or some other fixing solution) this would prevent the boat from possibly cracking, or buy a GP with a day hatch and preclude the problem altogether.
The GP is a boat better suited to a paddler with some experience. The ability to consistently edge while paddling is essential. The GP comes very close to doing it all: it's fast, it is stable, it is good in rough water, it holds a lot, it turns well.
I would recommend it to any paddler looking for a very fast sea kayak. Anything faster would have to give away something important.