Submitted: 02-03-2003 by Brian Friesen
I bought a kevlar Sole two weeks ago and I must say this is the best boat I've ever paddled. Now I'll admit I'm relatively new to kayaking (this is my first boat), but I've paddled a lot of boats in an effort to find the perfect boat for me. The type of boat I was looking for is apparently not a very large market because there are very few boats to choose from. I wanted a sit-inside sea kayak but with a few twists. First it had to be composite for weight reasons (kevlar preferred over fiberglass). And second it had to be short, no longer than 16' and preferably around 14'. To that end I paddled many boats from all the major manufactures. The first boat I looked at was the Dagger Willow which is not a sea kayak but a rec boat. After a one hour demo paddle I knew I didn't want to spend $1500+ on a boat that I would grow out of. That's why I started looking at sea kayaks so I'd have a boat to grow into skill-wise. Next I tried the Necky Looksha Sport and the Dagger Tybee. Neither of these boats tracked straight, plus both of these boats were discontinued in August of '02. I next turned my sights to the Perception Corona. Unfortunately for me there are no Perception dealers in my area, so I had to plan a special trip to California Canoe & Kayak in Sacramento (6 hour drive one way) to try the boat. When I told them what I was looking for the guy suggested I also try the Sole, which is slightly smaller than the Corona. I knew Perception made the Sole and that it was smaller than the Corona (which is what I wanted) but I ruled the boat out because it's listed as a boat for the "smaller paddler." Several months prior I tried the new Necky Tikani which is also a "smaller paddler" boat. I could not even get in the cockpit on land, that's how small it was. So I assumed the Sole was too small also. But when I sat in the Sole I was pleasantly surprised. It fit me like a glove. Oh BTW, I'm 6' and 180 lbs. Since I knew I fit in the Sole we took that and the Corona to the lake for a test paddle. The fit of the Sole pleased me, but it was the test paddle that sealed the deal. This boat paddled straighter than any boat I've ever paddled. I could completely turn off my brain and not think about paddling. The boat went in a straight line, even when I wasn't looking where I was going. Not only was it straight, but fast and efficient. The CCK employee who went with me on the test paddle, she was having to sprint to keep up with my cruising pace, and she was a kayaking expert. I love my Sole so much I'm already thinking about buying a second Sole in plastic, for all those places I won't take a kevlar boat like rock gardens.
If you're looking for a short sea kayak, give the Sole a try. Also, I've got to thank the great people at CCK. They have by far the biggest and best kayak stores I've been to (they have one in Oakland and another in Sacramento). If you're looking for a kayak and you're not too far, make the drive. I drove 6 hours one way and it was totally worth it!