Submitted: 06-17-2003 by Bruce
Yet another vote for the Zoar Sport as the "big person's kayak." At 6'-2" and 200 pounds I am not extremely tall nor very "beamy" and yet I had a *lot* of difficulty feeling comfortable in most of the kayaks I tried. I have canoed for over 40 years and set out last summer to find a plastic kayak that I would not quickly outgrow. I had never been in a kayak before last year but recognized from the outset that fit is important and can only be determined by plunking one's bod into many possible boats -- that reviews can only be helpful to a point because they are based on *other* bods than one's own!
Through rentals and loans I tried a variety of boats from 12 to 15 feet or so: Perception Acadia, Carolina, Catalina; Prijon Calabria; Wilderness Systems Cape Lookout, Cape Horn, Alto, and Manteo; Walden Odyssey; and a few others I'm forgetting. Of all these, the Zoar was the best fit by far, and I bought one. One of the main attractions is the easy in/out. Others have complained that the Zoar's thigh braces are too far forward -- well, for how I'm built, the braces on boats like the Calabria (even though these were adjustable) were way too confining. The Zoar's allow me to make very firm contact with the lower portions of my thighs, yet it's easy to disengage without a lot of contortion. Some boats like the Alto I couldn't even get into, let alone feel comfortable paddling.
The boat handles well and feels a lot quicker in the water than some of the beamier, flatter-bottomed models I tried. The secondary stability is wonderful and reassuring. I am not a skilled turner, yet I feel that this boat will keep me interested as I learn more.
I got a boat with a skeg because I liked the idea of rock-solid foot pegs and I do not plan to do ocean paddling. (Plus it was cheaper.) Now that I have used the boat a few times I find its overhanging skeg a liability in putting the boat up onto the car rack and in storing the boat -- the skeg hangs out where it can very easily catch the ground and as a result can be bent, or the bearing stressed. I will probably take it off and store it in the boat. It is certainly helpful in windy situations but where I'm mostly in small lakes and rivers I can always go ashore and fit the skeg in a few moments. Just for the ease-of-handling issue, I guess a rudder is better as it can be rotated completely up onto the deck and kept out of the way while the boat is being carried.
I recommend the Zoar Sport very much for its craftsmanship, handling and comfort. It is a bit heavy but that is a small negative to be considered with many positives.