Submitted: 03-19-2002 by bnystrom
I recently purchased a Dutch-built Silhouette. Though it differs in a few details and in the cockpit size, the hull and deck configuration is the same as the boats Walden was having made in Canada, so the handling should be the same.
The Silhouette has low initial stability, due to the rounded bottom configuration. Essentially, it easily rocks from one chine to the other. Once you've rolled it onto a chine, you encounter reasuringly strong secondary stability. As long as you are used to narrow, high performance boats, you'll find it comfortably stable. For someone buying their first high performance sea kayak, it would probably be a bit intimidating at first, but you would get used to it.
The boat exhibits minimal weathercocking, which is easily neutralized by edging or by partial deployment of the skeg. It carves turns when edged, though not sharply. Overall, I would rate the tracking as moderately strong. It's reasonably fast (comparable to a Nordkapp, perhaps a bit faster) and readily catches rides on even the smallest of swells. The high volume bow provides a reasonbly dry ride without excessive pounding over waves.
It's quite comfortable in rolling seas and surf. While it will broach on a breaking wave taken off-center (like any sea kayak), it does so in a controlled manner, allowing ample time for bracing into the wave. One very interesting quality is that as the wave crest passes under the boat, the bow will turn back downwave. This characteristic makes it much easier to correct your line in quartering seas or to turn to catch the next breaker when surfing. Very nice! Nigel Foster is big into surfing and it shows in the handling of this boat.
I'm quite pleased with the Silhouette so far and look forward to exploring it's capabilities further, but since no boat is perfect, I rate it a 9.