Submitted: 07-16-2003 by Dick
I finally broke down and purchased an Advantage, which for this area (Southwest Virginia) is not quite as easy as it may be in some other parts of the country. This is not really flat water country, so no dealers feature a boat like the Advantage. So, I read the reviews posted here, read the manufacturer's literature over and over, and ordered a boat that I had never even seen, much less paddled.
I got the kevlar ultralight layup, which seems lighter than the manufacturer's stated weight. Now loading is a snap! I decided against the carbon version because it is not supposed to be quite as durable as the kevlar models.
But on to the paddling - - this boat is fantastic! I've never paddled anything quite like it. Even an old guy like me can make it move along pretty well. Of course it won't turn on a dime, but it turns much better than I expected it to. It handles better in winds than any canoe I have ever paddled - tandem or solo. I haven't had it in any really rough water yet, but I've been in enough power boat wakes to become very confident in its stability in such conditions. The jury is still out as to just what kind of waves might cause it to start taking water.
The design of the slider seat is great. It has one easily movable clamp to limit backward movement. This leaves the seat free to move forward easily for the quick changes in trim that you need on a solo canoe. To move further back, you just move the clamp. I do wish I could adjust the height of the seat too, but I can see that such a capability would be difficult to incorporate into the design of the seat assembly. So, I'm OK with it the way it is.
Tracking of this canoe is really good. You can never get away from stroke and switch on a solo, but this is the best I've paddled. A boat like this really deserves a good paddle, so a good bent shaft paddle is in order.
Stability of the boat has been a very pleasant surprise. In fact, that stability has brought about a negative for the boat. I quickly determined that I could fish from it. The negative part is that when I have a decent fish on, the fish can pull the boat too easily. I've had a couple of pretty funny escapades resulting from that. I should stop fishing and get back to my paddling! But, that's a pretty good indication of how easy it is to move the Advantage in the water.
So, my final conclusions are that this boat is more than I expectd. It is fast, tracks very well, has good initial and great secondary stability, not bad in turns, handles wind beautifully, and so on - - - . I have had some experience in solo boats, so that obviously has helped me adapt to the Advantage pretty easily. It may be a little hot for a beginner, but someone who will be patient and methodical in learning the boat will have a lot of fun with it. Part of the fun for me has been smoking the tandems and kayaks I have encountered. The other part of the fun is paddling a well-designed, well-made product.
One final comment - - a tip actually. For those of you who might occasionally encounter a bit of discomfort due to bringing toys home a little too often, I had an easy sale on this one. Being a recent cardiac surgery patient, I stressed the light weight and easy loading of the Advantage to my wife. That's awful! Sometimes I have no shame! But, I do have an Advantage.