Submitted: 10-31-2003 by jshribbs
The Current Design Whistler ended up being my second choice for my first kayak. I bought the Current Design Breeze instead after much research and trials at various paddlefests. Both Current Design boats seem to be a cut above the competition in hardness of plastic, speed, comfort, looks, and maneuverability in this price range and boat length. I read SteveM’s excellent analysis below and found him to be on the mark. The Whistler was the best of the 14 footers I tested and I concur with his comparisons. I am 50 years old, 5’ 10’’, 200 lbs., with thick, strong, short legs and wanted a stable boat for exercise on a slow river system, the Petaluma River in California, where I could bird watch, cruise, etc. on a regular basis (90% of my expected water time) and still have enough boat for intermediate paddling situations such as the SF Bay and overnight camping (5-10% of trips). I particularly liked the keel system with the solid, easy-in rest and large beads for raising and lowering the keel. I also liked the larger cockpit with an extra inch of room for my toes, knees, and thighs. I found all the other brands a tad tight and slightly less comfortable. I had to make adjustments on other brands, but I fit right into this one. The greater amount of webbing on both the front and back decks are more convenient and hold more gear than the other brands. The Whistler had great stability and tracking with an adequate cruise speed and is a great all around hybrid boat that is not that much more expensive than recreations boats and can be taken into higher levels of paddling.
So why did I buy the Breeze instead of the Whistler, especially since it has less cargo space with only one hatch in the rear, and 1 foot shorter? I will be day tripping over 90% of the time, so I felt the added space was not essential or even necessary. For the few longer trips I can use water proof bags stowed in the front. The $100 savings was not a critical factor since my total cost for an all gear package was in the range of $1700. Being a few pounds lighter did not seem to be much different for loading and unloading. The cruise speeds did not seem that different.
The main factors for going with the Breeze were: 1) greater comfort and 2) greater maneuverability. Even though the Breeze has less depth than the Whistler, it feels like it has more room for toes and knees and just seemed to fit my body better. The Petaluma River system has marshes with sloughs that are narrow so maneuverability became a major factor, especially after I saw a 17 foot racer get stuck trying to turn around. I decided short was better. The cruise speed is similar, but I gave up a lot on tracking and have to constantly correct and consciously maintain good paddling style or tend to drift off course. However, I can turn on a dime and move the kayak in a new direction with a single stroke without having to tip much.
I recommend trying the Breeze before buying the Whistler, but both are excellent boats, superior to the competition in their size and price range. If it weren’t for my slough passage, I would go with the Whistler.