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Submitted: 05-16-2002 by Kim Corson

This kayak is not, as the manufacturer could be misinterpreted to say, just for the medium-sized or smaller paddler, but it is also for the larger paddler who wants a snug-fitting real seakayak in a more compact package. I keep mine on my sailboat so it needs to be a bit more compact. Because of their higher centers of gravity, however, I do not recommend this kayak for paddlers much taller than six feet. Weight carrying ability is ambiguously stated by Prijon as (a) for paddlers from 90 lbs to 180 lbs (US catalog), (b) from 90 to 225 lbs (US Prijon website), (c) to a total weight of 220lbs (Prijon German website) and (d) elsewhere at up to 265 lbs (or equivalent in kilos).

The Catalina is an excellent kayak. It is very fast for its length and material, it accelerates quickly, it carves turns very well, it surfs, it tracks very well without a rudder (I find no need for one that justifies the damage risk and expense), and it is very stiff and does not oil can or flex noticeably at all. It is a good, fast all around boat for its length, but does not have a lot of storage space for long expeditions and its initial stability is not great. Its low freeboard or side profile minimizes weathercocking. Its sharp bow entry with little rocker inclines it to punch thru some waves rather than always ride over them, but this is a common price to be paid for more speed in less turbulent water for any given length. It is 11.5" deep on the inside front of the cockpit, 9 1/4" deep at the inside back, weighs only 49 lbs, is 93 gallons in volume or 320 liters or 11.152 cu ft., and has a keyhole cockpit entry which allows the thighs of a larger paddler to rest very comfortably against the undersides of the cockpit coaming, without using the thigh braces (use some thin padding). Smaller paddlers will want the braces. I am 6 feet and 185 lbs, but I still outfitted the cockpit with foam padding for a snugger fit at the hips, under the cockpit coaming and for my heels. For longer legged paddlers, large shoe sizes (> size 10 or 11) can be a problem in regard to room. The kayak has a 5 year warranty and is UV resistant, but use a UV spray anyway. Forward and aft bulkheads are very dry, but the neoprene seals under the plastic covers are hard to get on -- the price of waterproofness. Also, the adjustable seat back could be secured better and tends to come loose and fall forward on paddle float and other reentries from the aft end. Longer legged paddlers will not be able to reenter fanny first and then their legs. The kayak has grab lines around the perimeter of the deck which are very handy, as is the bow painter (not "lanyard.") that unhooks from a deck line cleat to moor or dock the boat.

This is a very strong kayak and hull. You can sit on it and it does not flex. This is also a new designed (late 2001), with no magazine reviews as yet. Initial stability is only fair, but secondary stability and dynamic (moving) stability are excellent. This is a kayak that the beginner will definitely need to grow into and that will require some perseverance and patience, but not necessarily a lot of time. The rewards are worth it, however. I personally know. (Get some training. It matters.) The hull cross-section is a very, very shallow "V", followed up on each side by a hard, flat chine at an angle (for carving turns and secondary stability), which goes further up into a rounded side toward the deck. The actual maximum kayak width is 22 1/4", not 23" as Prijon misstates. The seat and back brace are adjustable and very comfortable, but the seat back is a tad high (1/2" to 1" above the coaming) for easy paddle float reentries and lean back rolls. The kayak material is HTP polyethylene (a type of improved linear polyethylene) that is blow-molded rather than rotomolded. It is stronger, stiffer, more abrasion resistant and lighter than rotomolded linear polyethylene and by a significant margin.

All in all a great, this is a serious and great kayak in a smaller package that is fast and fits the larger paddler like a glove or an extension to his or her body.

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