Submitted: 11-22-2004 by wjlatsha
I am a big guy, big boned, but not real "big around" for my weight. I am 53 yr old, weigh 270 Lb, 5'-11" tall, and wear a size 42 jeans/2X T-shirt. I have ridden motorcycle for years, and have my pilot's license. I have developed a good "feel" for what is happening as I Ride, Fly, Canoe, or Kayak. I have been looking for the "perfect" composite kayak to handle my weight, and perform on the water, like a performance motorcycle does on land. Most kayaks designed for my weight, just don't perform as I would like, or are wide and "slow". My "Nanook" does a decent job now that I have it trimmed to carry my weight, but I am looking for more "performance" and lighter weight. Because of this I test paddled a Carbon, Necky, Elaho HV. I will try to hit the points I noticed, and let you see how you feel about this boat, after you read this (and try one for yourself). As you read this review, please keep in mind this boat felt this way to me because of my weight and size. This boat may feel differently to you if you are a lot lighter.
The carbon composite lay-up was very light. I really liked that. I first got into it on land, to adjust the foot pedals, and heard the gelcoat "creaking" as I got in. Is the layup too weak for my weight? (don't know?) The cockpit opening seemed plenty wide enough at the back of it, but the front of the cockpit opening was really narrow for me. On top of that, the seat back band adjusters were right where my knees hit getting in and out. I have had two composite kayaks over the years, and I have never had to adjust the back band more than the initial time I set up the boat. I think this is just a gimick, and waste of money. When I got down in the cockpit, there was plenty of room for me, my thighs, and feet. When I got into the boat on the water, the layup "creaked" again. I wonder how long this kayak would last before something started cracking if I bought one? The seat itself fit me OK, so no complaints on it.
Out on the lake I noticed this boat has one wickedly low initial stability. I got used to it after about 15 minutes, but I think I would always be afraid to take my camera along in this boat.
Secondary stability was really solid. The Kayak has hard chines, and I could lean the boat to the one side, to where the chine on the other side of the boat almost came out of the water, and I never felt like I was going to spill. I was impressed with how solid it felt "on its side/edge".
Speed was pretty good. I settle into about a 4 mph pace (using my GPS) in my "Nanook", but with the same pace and effort, I was doing 4.5 to almost 5 mph with a little extra effort. The hull seemed to get up to speed easily, and covered a lot of water with ease.
I was happy with the way the boat tracked. I never did get to try the rudder, the lake was calm, and so I just paddled and leaned the boat when I wanted to turn. The hard chines grab the water when you lean, and it will carve a really nice turn just by leaning. I was enjoying just paddling, then I'd stop paddling, and lean to one side and then the other. It turned as well as if I was using a rudder on "my" boat. The Elaho HV also tracked very well in a straight line too. I paddled up to speed, and held the kayak level, stopped paddling, and it continued in the same straight line as I was going. I liked that a lot.
I am not sure if I like the hatch covers. First there is a Neoprene stretch cover to seal the hatch opening. I understand this is to keep the water out. On top of that is a hard cover to make the deck flush. Having the flush deck is a great idea, as this helps keep spray off of the face when waves break over the bow. But I think this double hatch cover set up would be a "pain" to deal with if you access the compartments a lot. You would have to decide that for yourself.
Fit and finish seemed nicely done. I believe Necky makes a quality boat. Will I buy one?? I don't know yet. I test paddled this twice that day, with testing a different boat between times. I did enjoy paddling it. I am considering this and two other boats the local shops sell (Impex "Asseteague" & CD Solstice GT "Titan"). I like buying local, as then there is close-by help if I need it. I believe this kayak is a "Performance kayak" that will handle the bigger paddler. I am just concerned over the initial stability, as I do like to take a camera along to photograph wildlife. If what I have written above interests you, by all means test paddle one. I think for the right person, this would be a fun boat.