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Submitted: 09-04-2003 by Bill
The 530 is the smallest sea kayak made by Mirage. Mirage sells direct, although it used to sell through retail kayak stores. They're made just north of Sydney, Australia. This one is Kelvar and glass, with a VCP forward hatch, VCP day hatch and a neoprene rear hatch with glass cover. All hatches are recessed, and the front hatch will only rarely kick up spray.
Mirage kayaks feature a fully-integrated rudder - very effective - and this makes them unlike many other kayaks. I like it, since I rarely paddle without a rudder anyway (my other boat is a Necky Looksha IV). The rudder mechanism is an adjustable footbar for bracing, with toe pedals for the rudder. One friend has found she needs to pad the hull under the bar for her feet. Adjsutment requires loosening nute and sliding the footbar in slots, which is slower than some sliding pedals, but it works.
The 530 will turn on a lean, but it is a tourer rather than play-boat. I have found the longer Mirages (580 and 19) to be hard to turn unless I use the rudder. In the water, it is fast and tracks very well. I often paddle with Mirages in my Necky Looksha, and they draw away from me stroke by stroke even though I generally keep up with other 'glass boats, uncluding slower paddlers in Mirages. In calmer water, you see almost no wake, the glide seems so effortless. It catches waves much more easily than any other boat paddling in my club. In chop, or larger waves the boat is very sure - it isn't as easy to re-enter as the Looksha or boast with greater primary stability, but an assisted rescue is no trouble. I haven't paddled it myself in steep seas, but I have seen it perform very well out there. I don't know any one who has found it wanting in big seas. I don't notice it weathercocking - that may be the effectve rudder.
Quality of the glass and kevlar is uniformly excellent. I have never seen a manfacture fault in a Mirage. The maker prefers not to use tape on the hull/deck join, but you can specifiy this. The maker will fit and electric pump, and the toggle switch is recessed into the deck. Deck lines and bungy cord are also in recessed fittings. So, after paddling beside a few 530s for the last two years, including in Bass Strait, I've decided I need the speed! Other glass boats I looked at couldn't match quality, stability, and damn good looks ... some fast south african boats had the worst glass