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Submitted: 06-01-2005 by DJC
I just picked up a Manitou Sport a week ago after demo-ing a number of recreational boats in the under $600.00 price range. What makes this boat different than many of its competitors is that the cockpit is quite a bit smaller, but still easy to get in and out of (16.5" X 40" inside measurement). Also, the knees can be placed under the deck so you're wearing the boat rather than sitting in it. This goes a long way to better boat control, instead of sitting loosely in it.
On its first trip out I took it out in Northern California's Lake Berryessa on Memorial Day. There was a lot of power boat and jet ski traffic that created washing machine-like conditions. The boat did very well and inspired confidence, even in some good-sized beam waves. It tracks very good for its' short length and was able to maintain course in the turbulent water. I was out for 3 hours and the seat was quite comfortable. The foot braces are easy to reach and adjust on the go. The rear bulkhead and hatch keep everything inside dry. There are plenty of bungees and deck lines. The Manitou Sport is 26.5" wide, making it quite narrower than the 28"-30" beam on many rec boats. It's still plenty stable, though.
I don't have any way to accurately measure the speed, but it seems to move along just as good if not a little better than some of it's competitors. Where it really comes ahead is in how it handles when the water gets rough.
There's no perfect rec boat, and a wider and larger cockpit boat can work better for some folks and for different applications, but if you're looking for something different in a rec boat, check out the Manitou Sport.