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Submitted: 08-21-2005 by GC
My wife and I bought two Perception Sundance (Airalite) kayaks earlier this year. Neither of us are experienced paddlers but we did do a fair bit of research before we bought. We did make a mistake in our purchase, but that was our fault, not the boats'. More on that later.
We decided we wanted a stable kayak with a large cockpit opening that was not too heavy to lift on top of the car. After looking at a lot of kayaks it came down to either the Pungo (from Wilderness Systems) or the Sundance. At first we were going to go with the Sundance Airalite because of the weight difference, but then Pungo came out with the Duralite. I did not paddle the Duralite, but really didn't like what I saw. It just looked like a flimsy boat, and I read a number of reviews that said much the same thing. That left the choice between the poly Pungo and the Airalite Sundance.
A lot of people rave about the seat on the Pungo (phase 3 seating) but I actually liked the seat on the Sundance better. I got low back pain from the seat on the Pungo. I thought the Pungo tracked better than the Sundance however. I really didn't like the hatch on the Pungo, and the hatch on the Sundance (Airalite) works like a dream. In our comparisons, the Sundance won.
Here however comes the part where our inexperience shows. We bought these boats with the intention of keeping them for a lifetime. We live fairly close to a sheltered body of sea water, but also have a cabin on a lake, which is where we thought we would use the boats most of the time. Turns out we spent a fair bit of time on the ocean. One day when I was out alone a bit of a wind blew up, and it was all I could do to get the Sundance to move. This was not a major storm, but just a bit of choppy water. Flat bottom and stability are nice, but don't try to move in any kind of choppy water. After this experience we went out and took some kayak lessons, and lost our apprehension about those other "tippy" kayaks. We have now sold both our Sundance kayaks, and have on order two Nimbus sea kayaks. Again, this was our fault, not the boats. For any of you new kayakers, be sure to take lessons before you buy.
For the Sundance, I'd rate it an 8. I liked the Airalite, I liked the seat and hatch. Found the boat handled fairly well, although tracking could have been better. Great boat for calm water, but not good for choppy ocean water.