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Submitted: 08-30-2004 by Jamie
I have Osprey's Royalex Wildfire reviewed below (he up-graded to a Northwind RX). All that he says is very true. Additionally, I live on a large lake and have run it in 3+ foot waves with a spray cover. Played with the waves, turned sideways loaded (200 lbs of me + 70 lbs of stuff) to feel the stability in a broach situation - really excellent, but watch it if the tops of the waves are being blown into a curl. CII is not a problem, but watch CIII and large standing waves as the Cook designed Bell spray cover will pop loose (design problem) and dump the top of a 4 foot standing wave or haystack into the boat. Loaded for two weeks in Canada the boat handles well in lake waves and CII rapids. Loaded in CIII requires experience and a very careful look-over. I usually line, carry, or portage (then run the rapids empty for fun). Loaded for tripping adds to the initial stability and allows one to sit on the seat and stretch out the legs, empty it's a kneeling boat under most circumstances. It's about as fast loaded, 4 mph easily with a ZRE Bent shaft, as it is empty with a straight blade Mitchell (this is not a bent shaft boat when empty). Has good maners when pushed hard to 5.5 mph (not all solo's do this ie: my Swift Shearwater which is for sale) and handles wind better than most. Reasonably fast, seaworthy, turns well straight-up or heeled over, handles a load to 300 lbs very well, well behaved and predictable in adverse conditions, and fun to paddle. The wildfire, like all canoes, is a compromise - but I feel it's the best one available to date.
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