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This boat is NOT for everyone. If you do not want to accept squirrelyness for performance then there are many other better choices. If you are willing to pay the price you will get a lively and willing playmate in the Barracuda. Please do not get "sold" this boat. If you are looking for a boat like this you already know it.
I have paddled for over 20 years and have owned as many boats. This is one of my fav's and I would compare it in performance to some of the glass rockets I have owned, only cheaper and more durable.
I would take this boat anywhere, and while I do white-knuckle a bit in rougher seas it isn't worse than other 21" hard chiners.
I find it fairly easy to roll - it is however not very easy to enter from the water. I often use the kayak for trolling lures - I have put a small clip on the handle of my fishing rod which fastens under the netting in front of the kayak.
I have not yet encountered heavy sea but find it surfs smaller waves OK (for a sea kayak)
It is a beautifully designed boat, comfortable, ample leg/foot room. Built well, sturdy and incredibly sleek. I had read about the "tippy" comments here and on some other sites, and could not fathom how this boat could be described as being so tippy. I was going to learn the hard way. Upon purchasing the barracuda my first stop was a lake. It was a calm cool late autumn day in Canada, and I wanted to see what she could do in a stable body of water. I should have known there was eventually going to be a problem, when she did not sit flat on the water unloaded, but would lean easily to one side or the other. I went out to see how we would do, and we did great.
This is a boat that will respond to your every thought. You don't actually have to move, just think it, and she will change. She was sleek, fast, and beautiful. The boat could edge so hard that the side of my spay skirt was under water. On flat water her primary stability was okay, secondary never felt like she settled in. She wanted to move from side to side, and never felt like she wanted to sit. She required CONSTANT supervision. A missed stroke and you felt as though you were going to go over. Once you understood that you have to work this boat, on flat water she would do whatever you asked.
Second Test, Open water. Calm seas less than 1 meter. Very smooth past the wave break. Again the boat did not sit flat on the water while loading. We went out empty, and she handled well. This boat is like having really long legs, and she responds to your hips/legs differently, and responds quickly without forgiveness. The smooth water went well, there was a slight breeze and the windage was minimal. The rudder worked well. She turned and twisted about as we went through some time of acclimation to one another. There was a general sense of uneasiness though. That tippy feeling was always there, but never had anything bad happen. We did not roll, and I did not swim, just that constant feeling, like when you lean to far back in a chair, and your not sure if it will fall over.
Test 3: Nightmare! Wind and some waves to about 2-3 meters. The boat could not figure this out. Windage was poor, and there was constant turn on the boat. We had issues. Adding this much motion to the body of water was a disaster. The rudder deployment line is actually behind you, I could not deploy the rudder without her wanting to go over. Just the simple act of reaching behind my center of gravity was too much. She is so fast that she surfs very well, but in a completely uncontrollable manner. We caught several waves, and were tossed all over the place. There was no primary or secondary stability to be found. She did not want to sit upright in the water. It was a very cold swim, and a very poor time to find out the bulkheads leaked. There was no possibility of self rescue, see earlier comments about the boat not sitting upright unloaded in the water, let alone in waves. I swam a very heavy boat back in.
I like to be out on the water. The weather here changes too quickly for this type of boat. If I was just doing lakes and/or was a better paddler, I may have learned this boat, but this was not for me. Being out on the water in this boat scared me, enough to return it for a different boat. She is fast, beautiful, responsive or tippy depending on how you want to say it as they both mean essentially the same thing.
This boat has okay primary stability on standing water, and non-existent on moving water. Her secondary stability on standing water is something to be amazed at, literally holding my sprayskirt underwater while paddling on that high of an edge, but once on moving water, she could not have been harder to control. I was torn about taking her back, and think that over time I might have grown into it, but to paddle alone on the ocean, I did not think she was stable enough for me to do this.
If you are looking at this boat, ask yourself a few quick questions: Are you an experienced paddler? Can you roll repeatedly? Do you want a boat that requires constant attention? If you answer no to any of these questions, you may want to rethink this boat.
I gave the boat a six, because it was a really bad time to find out the bulkheads leaked.
It is fun in big seas, but it is terrible in beam winds without a rudder. If you do decide to use a rudder, be warned, I carry a deck mounted tow line and it gets in the way if I need to tow in big seas.
Without a rudder you need aggressive edging or leaning to turn, and with this boat, you need to
I have also installed extra flotation in the bow to stop the nose burying in waves. You may also consider weighting the stern to reduce some weather cocking in beam winds. I've also retro-fitted a quick release cleat behind my seat that I use for towing. As for the day hatch- it's a piece of junk!I've never managed to undo it at sea unless I'm rafted up. I hope Prijon resolve this issue.
I read the reviews on here about how tippy the Barracuda is and laughed and wanted to find out for myself. First impressions on a local reservoir were that the Barracuda is very fast, that is confirmed by the fact I consistently have to slow down and wait for friends while paddling it. It isn't nearly as efficient as the Perception Avatar my gf paddles as it requires more effort to get up to speed and maintain speeds but the top end on the Barracuda is significantly faster. On the reservoir, tracking was excellent and leaned turns were fairly easy to do at speed. I brought out the wing paddle the second time out and had a couple of "scares" where a missed stroke felt like the boat was going to go over but it never did. The boat is tippy, but not unstable, it can however catch you by surprise.
Several trips out on the Cheasapeake and the Barracuda ate up everything from chop to 3ft waves and 30 knot winds. It paddles easily into and out of the surf but the boat has a tendency to nose into waves and can be handful holding a course going across waves - requiring constant edging or corrective strokes. I made the mistake of not putting the neoprene cover back on the front hatch on a windy day with 3 ft waves and learned that when nose heavy, the boat is a bear. It would surge forwards with each wave and surf really well but would then suddenly broach, threaten to roll, and force a series of panicked braces. It would then turn nose into the waves again despite my best efforts. I could not make headway towards shore, it was a scary and exhausting experience and in the end I had to tow my girlfriend and have her act as a huge skeg to keep the boat straight. When I made it to shore i swore i would get a new boat until we realized there was 50lbs of water in the front hatch.
The next couple of trips to the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Coast proved the boat, when properly balanced, is actually quite capable of handling whitecaps and 4ft seas but does feel twitchy when compared to the Avatar. The boat behaved well even while waves crashed over the bow and hit me in the face but I again had some steering issues with quartering seas. Paddling in those conditions was fun but required concentration in the 'cuda. My girlfriend meanwhile was laughing and enjoying being tossed about in the Avatar. Other friends bailed deciding the conditions were too rough.
The next couple of trips proved that the Barracuda not only is fast, THIS BOAT CAN HAUL SOME GEAR. Initial stability actually increases when the boat is loaded up. The hatches are huge and the high volume ends and the fact that the waterline is about the same as the LOA means the boat sinks very little. The low chines (below waterline even when unloaded) mean the characteristics of the boat don't change when heavily loaded - just don't try to stop quickly after you get a head of steam. Prijon boats seem to be made out of a stronger, denser, plastic than other polyethylene boats - the barracuda doesn't oil can or flex as much as the perception and dagger boats I've owned and doesn't scratch as easily.
The Barracuda is a great choice for paddling lakes, rivers and inland waterways. Its fast and surprisingly maneuverable given its waterline length and minimal rocker. It is not as maneuverable as a shorter boat with rocker and not the best choice for paddling in marshes or constrained areas. The length also leads to a lot of bottom drag in shallow water. It works well in the ocean, but there are better choices for serious open water paddling. A rudder is probably a good idea for oceans and large lakes with wave action.
I liked the Barracuda initially; it was beautifully made and I liked the mango colour. At first, I tried to adjust the seat to feel comfortable, but wasn't too happy with any settings. Without trying the kayak, I took it for a six days trip. The Barracuda felt very tippy from the beginning. I had to learn to keep my hips relaxed to stay upright. Taking pictures and not holding the paddle was out of the question! A moment of inattention and I capsized. Couldn't even think about climbing back to the kayak loaded with gear because it wouldn't float upright! I didn't even know it was possible...
Well, I still like the Barracuda's sleek lines and finish but realized that it would not serve me well as an ocean touring kayak. It would be fine for weekend exercise paddling. I have exchanged it for Prijon Kodiak which is much more stable, comfortable and just a bit slower. It might be just my impression, but Kodiak seems to be better built; the plastic body seems to be sturdier.
With this knowledge, the Barracuda has become a manageable vessel, and I have been out about twelve times. I have taken the boat on motorboat wakes, confused shoreline rebound, and long-fetch wind chop (all inland) and found the boat to respond well and remain upright. It can be a twitchy bugger if I show it any tension in the hips. Like a dog sensing fear, it can still chomp. But itís general demeanor is one of obedience and speed. The long line and British bow follows a slender track and keeps fairly steady except on quartering stern seas, where it wants to cock. I am 165# and find that, likely, I am at the low end of the weight scale for this boat, which in my opinion, adds to its tender quality as its water line is thus low. A heavier paddler, or a laden boat (I will try this next), will almost certainly be more stable Ė a key fact not so much for inland flat-water but certainly key for seas and oceans. A second stabilizing feature would be the rudder, which I bought but have yet to install, which by all accounts from other Cuda owners, can be very helpful in confused chop. A very large paddler, say 220# plus, would likely fare better in the Prijon Kodiak, as the beam and cockpit are more generous. A paddler my size or smaller, paddling day tours and with unladen boat, might consider the Catalina (a boat I am anxious to demo). But for a fast sea kayak with a performance bent and for a paddler willing to put in the learning curve and the seat time, the Barracuda is ideal. I have yet to touch upon this sea kayak's most endearing attribute, and that is speed. Flat out "voom vroom".
With stability sacrificed, the upside is speed. Online comments, and even that to me from the owner of a famous kayak retailer, confirm that this is one of the fastest -- if not the fastest -- plastic kayaks on the market. I find it best with a high angle paddling style, where it finds a groove and keeps on going. The glide is remarkable, and the ability to edge at speed is commendable. The Barracuda is, as its name implies, a very sleek and fast watercraft, mentioned often in the top ten of kayak races, often beating its composite brethren. Some kayaking research on hull efficiency has, in fact, documented that the Prijon Barracuda is in the top of its class, beating many famous fiberglass boats. Once up to speed, the stability is fine, and this paddler has learned that keeping the throttle up and crashing through the chop with loose hips and an equally loose mind allows the boat to perform at its best. I have not tried re-entry self-rescues in it yet, nor rolling, but have learned from others that this can be difficult in choppy conditions as there is a tendency for overcorrection and re-dumping; I did not deduct a point for this trait, but would if I found it to be overly true. Note that the SJ 6/03 review (see below) found it to be a good roller, however.
There is a stellar review of this boat in the June 2003 issue of Sea Kayaker, and the three testers found the boat to be very fast and a strong performer. They did mention that the boat is more stable with 30-50 lbs weight (the tested boat did not have a rudder) in its hatches. I find this boat to be everything that it is meant to be: a fast, well-made performance plastic kayak for the advanced paddler. I have deducted two points, however. First, in that Prijon seems to market the boat (and all its boats) to a very wide range of paddler heights and weights, and I find this boat to be best for the 165# to 200# weight class (fairly narrow range). The second deduction is for the limited comfort of the seat, which can be a knock on all Prijon boats. The seats are with a low back, no flexible backband, and the metal seat stays pop out of their slots easily, even with adjusting oneself in the cockpit; this is somewhat remedied by bending the seat tabs with pliers so that they stay in place better (but still not ideally). The Barracuda would be very amenable to custom cockpit outfitting, however, as the seat is removable.
A fast plastic boat with tender tendencies that can provide the intermediate to advanced paddler with a lickety split ride on inland big water. Email if any questions.
My first kayak was a Prijon Touryak bought new and I used it for three months, but after awhile I started to feel as if I was exceeding the capabilities of that particular kayak and wanted to move up to something with a little more speed so I went ahead and bought a end of the year Demo model that the dealer was happy to get rid of because customers were having trouble keeping it upright when they would demo the boat, so it wasn't selling. Now after having used it for the last few weeks I have come to the following conclusions.
Yes it is fast, (that is why I bought it) I just love the speed of this thing. It is an entirely different ride than the Touryak and yes, it is tipsy, as stated in the previous reviews, but I have not tipped it over yet and I have had it out in four-foot rollers and white caps on the lake. Initial stability isn't what you buy a kayak like this for so forget it ( I will use the Touryak for bird watching in the swamps )
I took the Barracuda out on the lake the other day when there was a high wind advisory and I agree with the previous review in that in following seas this particular boat is all over the place (Weathercocking) and will soon start to turn on itself even while doing a sweeping stroke with a Greenland paddle. So how do you fix it? Well just buy the rudder, this little fix (around $200) will solve the problem and gets this rocket ship back on course.
I like the hatches on the Prijon boats because they are large enough for me to put my Paddleboy kayak carrier into instead of leaving it on shore. A lot of boats Ive seen I can eliminate simply because the hatches are too small. The Barracuda has a small quick access day hatch with sock on the starboard side behind the paddler that is easy to twist open, but watch out! Remember what I said about initial stability! Otherwise, you might find yourself rolling over.
Prijons are engineered well as far as putting a lot of thought into how to layout the webbing on the deck for securing a spare paddle, T-handles, seat adjustments, hatches, rudders etc and this boat lives up to that expectation.
I took the Barracuda out into a quiet bay the other day to practice my Bracing and Rolling and was surprised as to how far you can roll this boat over and still recover to a upright position. The Barracuda rolls and braces better than my Touryak, but then again it is narrower.
Fit and finish are very good and the only change I am going to make is to the seat. I removed the seat pad so as to get myself as low as possible in the kayak but have found that without it there is just to much play in the hip area so I may have to add some padding back into those areas.
Paddle float rescues. Ok I have to admit I do not always get my roll on the first try so when that fails I have two choices. One, try to get back in while the kayak is upside down or two, do a paddle float rescue. Because the Barracudas cockpit is smaller and the kayak is narrower than my Touryak, doing a paddle float rescue takes a bit of practice or you may find yourself rolling over in the opposite direction. I have practiced it on the calm waters of the lake but I can only imagine what it would be like trying to do it in rough water.
Not all rudders are created equal. There is more to a rudder than having a piece of metal on the stern of the boat, and this is were the Prijon boats come out ahead in that the rudder is a composite material, well shaped and uses gas type peddles for ease of operation. Most of the Prijon boats that I have seen come set up for a rudder that can be bought afterwards and installed in very little time with simple household tools.
Overall I'm very pleased with the Barracuda. It is my workout kayak, once you get use to the stability issue I think you will find it an excellent kayak for the more intermediate kayaker who is seeking speed at a lower price then you would pay for a composite boat.
On the water the Barracuda's stability is strange, it feels quite twitchy but accidental capsizes are rare, when they do happen rolling can be performed without too much effort. Once you start to travel the initial instability leaves and paddling is pretty much effortless, so much so that it is not until paddle with other boats that you realise how quickly you're travelling. Turning requires leaning skills, but it can be turned 180 degrees with just 2 sweep strokes.
A word of warning, the Barracuda is effected by following seas and winds. Weathercocking becomes evident in F4+ winds, on one unfortunate trip with a crosswind and sea coming from the aft quarter, I tried paddling straight with no corrective strokes or leans, within 8 strokes I had turned almost 180 degrees. If you paddle in anything but mild conditions get the rudder option, even just dropping the rudder acts as a skeg and cures the problem. Having said all that I have never paddled a sea kayak that can sit in the surf and soup so well, the desire of the bow to point into the sea means exiting surf shores is straight forward and timing you're landing is in your hands not the oceans.
Overall I'm very content with my purchase, the Barracuda can't compete with the best glass boats but it is better than many glass boats twice it's price. A boat for intermediate paddlers and beyond, just don't forget the rudder.
Initial stability is...well...I'm sure it's there somewhere. Secondary is firm and pleasant, indeed welcome after all that hip-flinching. The long waterline and complete lack of rocker makes for a rail-like ride, with 40 acres required for rudderless turns. I'm sure it was just my inexperience with this boat, but it just didn't seem to respond to corrective strokes or j-leans at all. Use the rudder, it's smooth and quiet.
The good stuff?.. Holy cow this thing is fast. It's happiest at high speeds in fact. Even with a sore shoulder from showing my son "How Evel would do it" on his bike ramp, I managed 7.3 mph on the gps against a slight wind and current, rudder up. From the feel of it that max speed was mine, not the hull's, I'd bet there was more to be had. This boat gives you output for input, the efficiency is obvious to the paddler and very satisfying.
Fit and finish are exceptionally good, and the seat is very comfortable. The adjustable thigh hooks are a real boon to the agressive paddler, you can really get a grip. I did find the day hatch (with sock) to be a bear to open, and in fact could not access it while on the water. Perhaps it will wear in, or might respond to some lube. Small potatoes.
My dealer characterized the Barracuda as a boat for "expert to advanced" paddlers, neither of which am I. I'm not sure I'd agree with him, but I will say it would be well worth the effort required to become comfortable in this boat, the reward would be a real effortless mile-eating grin inducing ride.
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