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Submitted: 11-10-2005 by Bonneville

When I test-paddled the Speedo, I felt like Will Smith in "Independence Day" when he takes the helm of the alien craft and shouts, "I have got to get me one of these!" My interest was first piqued by demonstrations at Gauleyfest, where the designer made it outperform most boats (I give a lot of credit to his ability) and then stood on the deck to illustrate its strength and stiffness. The latter was impressive, especially considering Eskimo doesn't employ internal support pillars, deeming them unnecessary because of the construction.

Eskimo blow-molds with high molecular plastic, producing a very tough, light hull. Their process also allows for bi-color hulls, if that makes a difference to you (mine is white deck/orange hull). In addition, they've carefully thought this out to minimize the need for hole drilling in the hull. The thigh pad mounts are on the cockpit rim. The grab handles are integral to the hull and the drain plug is part of one of their bases.

The boat performs like a buff Diablo, which is to say great. Fast with hard edges to slalom through the rock gardens. The ends are fairly low volume, but it's still a strong surfer. The seat and pegs adjust and it's a pretty comfortable boat. Well-suited for a medium-sized male, but plenty of margin to go up or down from that. There are a couple nits to pick. The backband setup does not allow it to adjust forward of the rear edge of the seat. Might not be a problem for some, but I'll probably re-engineer it.

Somewhat more of an issue is the two longitudinal grooves in the bottom. While there are performance design explanations for these, they become a problem if you're sliding over a rock a little sideways. You can get hung up and flipped real fast when a groove drops onto the node of a stationary obstacle. But, the bottom line is that if you want a very high quality boat that scoots and cuts like a waterbug, this would be a tough boat to beat.

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