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I own the fiberglass version of it and having previously owned a plastic sea kayak, I cannot recommend more highly that if you're serious about getting into kayak touring, save for a fiberglass boat. This boat handles like a dream and I love the skeg as opposed to the rudder on my previous boat.
The size is perfect for me being 6'2" tall and 195 lbs. the braces are comfortable and provide a degree of stability and comfort my plastic boat couldn't touch. I've made a couple trips out into Lake Michigan in heavy crosswinds and 3-4' waves and with the skeg down, this boat holds a line without any problem. After an hour in my previous kayak, I wanted to beach it and stretch while 3- 4 hours later I'm still comfortable in the Assateague. The hatches are water tight and I have yet to find water in any of the 3 after doing rolls and practicing self rescue. I also appreciate the 3rd small compartment behind me that makes storage of items nearby a breeze. The foot braces extended out long enough for my 34" inseam and I never feel cramped in this boat.
Overall a solid boat that I expect to get years of use out of.
What I like about the Assateague is its indestructibility. It is tank-like in the glass layup and I don't look after my boats very well so this toughness has been a blessing. Initial and secondary stability are very good and I've had this boat in rough Australian coastal seas and had no fear of losing control (mostly). It weathercocks badly and needs a little skeg to track true. Not a fast boat but I can keep up with the Mirages and Nordkapps with a little more effort. It surfs well but strong initial stability means you have no finesse when carving a wave so once the boat makes up its mind where it wants to go, you are committed.
Things I don't like: IR seat is rubbish. The backband is hopeless and there are countless better seats on the market. Get rid of it. The footpegs are an abomination. Seriously, when these boats get designed doesn't anyone paddle them before going to market? They are uncomfortable and fatigue-inducing. Surely an adjustable bar across the rails would be a better bet. This isn't restricted to Impex boats but you only have to sit in a Rockpool for 30 seconds to see how it's done properly. Also the bulkhead behind the seat is curved inward to give better day-hatch space but leaves no room for a rear mount bilge pump. This means a glass mod to the boat. Deck rigging is sufficient but hardly complete. A little more thought into these things would mean a more awesome boat.
I don't have any major negatives to say only attention to detail matters, although the seat and foot posts really are major issues but fairly straight-forward to fix but shouldn't have to. All in all, the Assateague is a bullet-proof big man's boat that will get you out of some serious scrapes and into big water. I will keep mine forever because we've been through a lot but don't expect it to be a comfortable expedition craft or speedster. There are much better boats for this.
The out fitting is great, although the Immersion Research backband spins on wet entries, and needs to be tied into the combing, I find the foot pegs uncomfortable, although this is the same in all boats....why do manufacturers make boats for bigger guys then assume that the footpegs are appropriate for all sizes???? They just make the feet cramp up, so I will foam out the bulkhead, but I would rather I didn't have too.
The boat paddles really nicely and tracks true. Although others say it is a fast boat, I find it only medium paced, although I shouldn't have paddled it after a Rockpool GT, as that is a fast boat and just made the Impex feel slower. Initial stability is great for a British style boat, and better than my Aquanaught HV, my other boat.
The boat is able to stay on edge for ages and is easy to balance there, with the edge almost feeling like it wants to "bounce" you back into the boat, rather than dump you into the drink. It cuts through swell easily and is very dry to paddle bouncing over smaller swell. The boat surfs OK although smaller swell that the Aquanaught picks up easily just washes past the Assateague. That said the Aquanaught is just about the best boat I have paddled in trailing sea.
The Assateague performs true to the paddlers input, and although it isn't the fastest or the best at catching waves or even the best capacity, it fulfills the need in the market for a true BIG BOYS BOAT that can handle the rough, the surf and the rock gardens, and at least get us closer to the enjoyment had by those Midgets ridding matchsticks that once carved us up in the surf.
The cockpit is a keyhole with a large entry. (1.7 Seals Shocker) I can get in seat first and have plenty of room. One thing I noticed was that the boat fits like me like a glove. The contact points of the boat are contoured in foam and provide a very positive grip for great boat control. I have made no modifications to the boat. Impex uses Immersion Research back bands and seats. This makes the ride very comfortable.
The kayak has very good primary and secondary stability. It feels like you are locked in from edge to edge without the feel of a sudden capsize.
Tracking with the boat is very good. The bigger the waves the straighter the boat seems to go. I have not felt the need to use the skeg although the design is very good. The controls are on the right side which is the opposite of most boats on the market. Your knee position in the boat avoids hitting the controls inside the boat.
Speed is where the boat excels. It can maintain 7 km with little effort with a top speed of 10 km in moderate waves. It is very quick to accelerate. The boat is very light and this can be a negative in wind when not loaded. The boat does not weather cock, but some effort is needed to keep your tracking.
The sitting position of this boat has the paddler sitting almost on the bottom of the boat. The back deck is fairly high. This is an issue for layback rolls. I am not a proficient roller, but a fellow kayaker does a modified C to C which works well. He advised the boat rolls fairly easy. I will be spending sometime practicing this summer. An angled bulk head behind the seat makes draining water out very easy when doing wet exits.
Once again Impex smartly utilizes another company's product to outfit the boat. Valley hatches are used with an oval shape both at the front and back of the boat making storage easy. A medium sized day hatch rounds out the bone dry compartments. This boat will hold a lot of gear.
This boat paddles the same loaded with gear or empty. My previous boat, a Valley Aquanaut HV was a true expedition boat and felt unstable when not loaded. This makes the Impex a great boat if you can only have one all purpose use. My second boat is the Romany S for more day and play sessions. The Impex surfs wind waves and it maintains good speed on the top of the wave, but do to its length is hard to turn.
Try this boat out. Impex makes a quality product that they stand behind.
I ordered my Assateague with front bulkhead moved forward 3 inches because I was not able to put my feet on pedals. This comfortable modification was done free of charge thanks to Larry from Frontenac outfitters. Beautiful lime green deck in standard glass; I could not wait till it arrived. It fitted me perfectly on land, so I had to take her on the water. Wow! Super fast boat; great maneuverability. And that edging... wow! I was really surprised and curious how quickly the Assategue made me a better kayaker
Yes it took me a season to realize that I would never have made such a progress in kayaking with my last ruddered Boreal Design Sedna -thankfully it was a great beginner boat which now serves my dad well. The difference between 2 boats was very big: the Assategue let me discover all the beauty of well designed sea kayak.
I learned my first roll and developed some hard bracing/sculling/edging Techniques and enjoy some wicked surfs last summer on my sea trips! I'm paddling lakes/rivers locally too and I'm extremely satisfied with my kayak.
Overall built quality is near perfect; Day hatch is very convenient. I did installed nexus 70p compass in well designated place on deck - Helps me learn some basics of navigation. The skeg system was perfect until I went on a 2day trip in late October. It got down to -7c at night and in morning, the skeg cable guide stell rod at the knob broke off - but I was still able to adjust skeg. I came home, sent a couple of emails to Impex, and to my surprise, nobody replied to me until this day... so I got mad and fixed myself... Being and living in beautiful Canada (that's where Impex boats are being made) and knowing from all over the net how professional Impex customer service is I'm really disappointed...especially knowing that I live next door... Anyway great boat that I will continue to explore its limits and expedite with it!!!
I recommend for all big guys out there. To check Assategue and to put it on top of their wishlist. It's getting hard to find good boat these days for XXL people!!! And if you know dealer close by you might catch a good deal on boats in stock because from what I heard new boats will carry 20% price increase
And one thing to add that Impex boats are really cheap (at least in Canada)Comparing them with other brands!!! Last for people who are into plastic kayak be prepared to take your kayaking pride to the new level without fear of new challenges
The Tempest is a good handling kayak. It also surfs nicely but when paddled over larger waves the bow slaps the backside of the wave and flex in the kayak can be felt. Sitting on the rear deck caused that area to flex and creak. After rolling in the surf the thigh brace cracked and the attached cockpit coaming separated from the kayak.
The best feature of this kayak is its carving ability due to harder chines. The Tempest has a very comfortable but delicate seat pan, be careful not to stand on it. The cockpit is 36 inches long and allowed me to get in seat first with a 34" inseam. It has more deck bungies than I would ever use and a loose fitting skeg that rattles in its skeg box.
The bulkheads are RTV'ed into place and the day hatch and rear bulkheads leaked around the skeg line that runs through them. The forward bulkhead leaked around its RTV seal. After paying over $3000 I was making repairs I would expect to perform on a used kayak. This is a well designed but poorly built kayak.
The Assateague has glassed in bulkheads that are water tight and practically air tight. After rescue and roll practices I found a few drops of water in the forward hatch, which may have dripped off of me. It has adequate deck storage bungies, and a strong smooth quiet skeg. It has both toggle handles for holding on to it in the surf and suitcase style carry handles for transport. Sitting on the rear deck causes no flex or sound from the boat. I feel no flex in this kayak it is solidly built.
The Assateague fit provides me with better control and makes rolling easier. It has a simple durable and comfortable seat and responds well to lean turns. I like the two large identical hatch covers for front and rear compartments, they provide more packing options.
I found drops of water leaking into the Assateague from the skeg slider guide rod. I placed a drop of marine RTV where the metal rod meets the fiberglass and that did the trick. My rolling confidence has soared now that I trust my kayak will not come apart.
As for performance both boats are responsive and handle well
Assateague: faster and better tracking, easier rolling
Tempest: responds quickly to lean turns, better carving
As for construction Impex wins; no contest. Build quality (fiberglass line) is of no concern to Wilderness Systems. Marketing strategy is where Wilderness shines. Wilderness Systems boats are easily found at sporting good retailers as well as kayak shops. Impex boats were more difficult for me to find but it was definitely worth the effort. I give the Assateague 10 out of 10.
After talking to the extremely knowledgeable sales person over the phone I was assured the kayak would fit me. I am 240lbs and 6'1". Very few performance kayaks are large enough to accommodate my legs. The Assateague fitted me perfectly!
My first paddle was a launch into large dumping surf. A bit of apprehension but the kayak performed way better then my other ones. Within weeks I advenced my skills out of sight! The kayak is an excellent surfing craft. Rough waters is where it excells. Probably the Assateague is not the best suited kayak for calm waters (lakes) since it's shape is not the fastest in the water. I have other kayaks for that. Being rudderless is ideal for dumping surf since there is nothing to be broken off by waves.
Unfortunately the particular Assateague I had was faulty. The resin when manufatcured did not cure correctly and it remained soft. Most likely the kayak would be structurally sound but the interior of the hull (inside the hatches) was sticky. The hull will also deform when car topped in the heat at 30C. The hull would have definitive dimples that would disappear later on.
I made my supplier aware of the problem and he very promptly took the kayak back and within days, yes days, shipped me a new one via Air Courier from Sydney Australia. Impex has been extremely approachable and courteous in handling the warranty issue. It my opinion this is one of the reasons that I wanted to have an Impex: you will never be left barking up the wrong tree when something happens.
My Assateague was replaced/upgraded for free with a K-lite version one. The new one is stiffer and substantially lighter. An extremely well made craft with no blemishes. Probably one of the best finished kayaks I have seen. I have installed a sail onto the kayak that helps me on long trips (if the wind is blowing in the right direction).
Some novices might be slightly intimidated by a less then solid initial stability but the kayak has a tremendous secondary stability. Excellent for skulling and lay turns. The kayak responds very well to leans and can be edged with ease. I believe the Assateague has transformed me from a paddler into a kayaker.
I have since bought a Currituck for my girlfriend. I can't fit in the Currituck but fits her great. The cockpit is exceptionally good in braces and allows for easy rolling. The Immersion Research back band is too tall and I modified it and made it slimmer.
I paddle mainly flat water areas like the Chesapeake bay, and local wide (1 mile plus) river, and large lakes. My longest paddle has been about 10 miles, and I don't like winds over 15 mph. My favorite time on the water is when the sun is peeking over the horizon, the water is calm, and the wildlife is just stirring. But I do enjoy some rough water once in a while, for some excitement.
I started with an Old Town Adventure XL-139 Kayak. A great "Rec" kayak, but wanted something lighter and longer. I next got a Lincoln, "Chebeaque". I was pushing the weight limit for the kayak, and the cockpit opening was too small. But otherwise a fun, good, composite kayak. I traded it because the cockpit opening was too small for me, and I hurt my "bad knee" getting into it one day. Next I tried a Boreal, "Nanook". Biggest mistake in my life. You can read my review here on P-Net if you want to learn more. Ok, enough about me to help you understand the review.
I had looked at "Impex" before, and tried their Serenity. It just felt too big, with too much rocker for me. I thought their quality was tops, and heard about their great service, but just didn't know about the Assateague until fall 2004. At that time I put a post on P-Net asking about the "best" composite kayak for the big guy. Most of the responses told me about the Impex Assateague. I was impressed with the replies.
When I heard that Impex was showing at Paddle Sports show in NJ, I e-mailed Danny to see if he would have an Assateague at the show. He replied "yes", so I was there Saturday morning, and I finally got to see one. Right away he got it down off of the rack, and let me sit in it. 10 minutes later my wife asked me when I was getting out, and I asked if I "really had to"! The cockpit fit me very well. Slightly loose, but that was better than tight. One thing I liked a lot about the cockpit opening is the width at the front of the opening. There is plenty of room between the thigh braces for my bad knee and I to get out very easily, the seat, foot pegs, and back band seemed to be designed for me. The model was actually designed from the start just for the bigger person. I fell in love with the Orange deck, Yellow trim Carbon/Kevlar model at the show.
I like buying from my local shops, and I really wanted to paddle it before I bought it, so I asked Danny how we could do this. He asked me if I wanted to meet him at the nearby river EARLY the next morning before the show. Since it was MARCH, and I lived 3-1/2 hours away, I declined the offer. I thought that was terrific for him to offer this, as I know how tiring Shows are. I asked him if he could get one to my local shop, so I could Demo it there, and buy it if I liked it. He said fine, and we parted ways with him working on a plan.
We e-mailed a couple times, and a plan developed. Soon after, he had these two kayaks at a show in the New England states. After the show, he drove about 100 miles out of his way going home, to drop them both off at my local shop. One was to be their Demo Kayak, and the other was the one for me to buy if I liked paddling it. I took a vacation day in early April, and went to the shop to Demo it. I took my Orange/Yellow kayak home with me that day. It only took me about ½ hour to realize this was the Kayak I had been looking for the last 4 years!
After paddling it since April (It is now mid October), I am more and more impressed with it. It is a "Keeper" for sure. My friend has a Brand X, model "700". He is smaller that I and his fits him well. I needed a kayak to keep up with him. The Assateague does a very good job. With minimal effort I can keep up a pace of 4 mph (GPS) all afternoon. With more effort I can keep up 5 mph for a little while, and have pushed it to 6.3 mph. I can't keep that up long. On flat water, we paddled to speed, and then coasted. Our glide was side by side. I was impressed with this, as the Assateague is wider, carrying me (more weight).
I have had it on the Chesapeake Bay, and on the local 1+ mile wide river, and waves and chop don't seem to bother it at all. Initial stability is fine, but not like a Rec Kayak. But Secondary stability is really solid. I like to lean to carve turns, and I have to work hard to get the boat on its side so water is near the cockpit combing. It is really solid. Waves and boat wakes have hit me from the side, and they just wash right under me. I like that a lot. In head-on or trailing rougher water, it does not tend to pitch violently up and down with the waves. It follows them in a controllable manner that gives me confidence in the boat.
The cockpit fits me very well. The seat base is comfortable for longer periods. After 4 hours I'm not a bit "sore". The back band is OK, but I plan on replacing it. I don't like a back band that sticks above the combing. With it in its standard position, the spray skirt hits the band and pushes it down behind my butt. I took off the band, and turned it upside down, with the top now level with the combing, and it is "ok". I plan on putting a softer padded cloth back-band in the kayak over the winter. The Immersion Research is hard plastic padded with foam. I think the padded cloth ones are a little more comfortable. I like the solidness of the foot pegs with this kayak having a Skeg. I hated the foot pegs moving around on my last Ruddered kayak. I like the skeg!
The kayak tracks "fairly" straight all on it's own. If I watch my strokes, and be sure to keep them even, I don't need to use the skeg at all to keep it straight as an arrow. But after a while I get tired of being careful, so I put the skeg down about ¾ to 1". That takes care of "me" well. On windy days I found the boat likes to point into the wind a little. This is better than away from the wind, but a little more down skeg takes care of the wind's effects very well. I much prefer a skeg kayak now! The kayak is very easy to turn for a 17'-10" kayak. With a good lean in the opposite direction you want to turn, it will carve a turn that still amazes me. I can turn it as tight as the Adventure XL I had. Easy to turn!
I really love the VCP hatches. I have never had any leakage in them. I put 303 on them, inside and out, and they slide on and off no problem. The Day Hatch behind the cockpit is nice too, but I have a hard time twisting around to get in it, on the water. I just use it for storage of things I don't want bouncing around in the larger compartments. It is nice for that. I do like the new carry handles. They are comfortable to have in the hand when carrying it.
The hull is made with a cloth that has Carbon fibers running one direction, and with Kevlar fibers woven into it going the crossed direction. It is an interesting cloth to see. The Hull is VERY stiff (not like my last one), and I like that. This cloth weave has the stiffness of Carbon, and the strength of Kevlar. I feel it is a good weave. The deck is reinforced Fiberglass, I guess they had to use finer weave glass cloth to go in and out of all of the deck recessed and shapes.
After 4 years of searching for the right kayak for me, I have found it. I am sure it will last me a long time. The fit and finish are really nice, and I am proud to be in it. I get a lot of nice comments on it.
"Negative" - No review would be complete without any negatives. I honestly can't say anything negative about the boat, and the way it handles. But after I bought it, Danny sent an e-mail to me asking how I liked it. I thought that was a nice touch! I had a few minor issues, mainly questions, so I replied telling him how much I liked it, and explained the questions. Danny replied saying my e-mail was "too much" for him, that I should call. I never got to call, so he e-mailed me back about calling. By then I got a little frustrated after I had explained my issues in the e-mail, and just didn't have the time to go over it again on the phone. I replied back saying thanks for the follow-up, lets just forget it. I guess I was disappointed that he was so good with e-mail before I bought it, but not good at all "after".
I went to the dealer for help with one issue. The deck perimeter rescue lines were so tight that you could "twang" them like a guitar string. There was no way to get your fingers behind them if you had to. I untied the bow line, with the intent of loosening it with a knot closer to the fitting, and it stopped a full inch before it got it back to the fitting. That is how tight it was from the factory. After waiting over a month for the dealer to get new lines for me from Impex, I went and bought new deck lines and restrung it myself. Minor issues, but something to note.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! If you are a larger person like me, or bigger, this Performance kayak was made for you!
In June, I took delivery of a Carbon Kevlar Assateague. Besides wanting a compass recess, large oval hatches for packing lots of gear, a day hatch, a skeg, & a weight around 50 lbs., I also wanted the great handling of the Gulfstream. I got all this in the Assateague plus one of the most comfortable cockpits I've ever sat in. I'm not a big guy either...5'9" and 180 lbs. but the Assateague fits me just fine.
A big bonus in all this is the great fit and finish that Impex kayaks have especially in the Carbon Kevlar layup.
I hate to say goodbye to an old friend....but it's time to sell the Gulfstream!
I asked Ike at Lake George Kayak for a recommendation. He suggested the Assateague. Ike knows me and I trust him, so I paddled his demo boat. I really didn't have to look any further.
At 6'3" and 235#, I'm not a little guy. At 60 years, with a little arthritis in my knees, I needed a cockpit that was easy to enter and exit. The keyhole gave me a little trouble, as it did the previous reviewer. Must have given someone else trouble too, as the starboard thigh tab was broken. That was the only problem I encountered.
I could go over all the details but you can read them in the other reviews published here. Instead I will just give you my impressions.
I found the quality, fit and finish to be excellent. Hatches were tight, easy to open and reseal, and the day hatch was a nice bonus. The skeg deployment and retrieval was smooth and positive. Everything worked together to provide an impressive and attractive boat.
The Assateague accelerated quickly and easily, had excellent initial and secondary stability while edging easily, turned as well without a rudder as my Narwhal did with one, and tracked fine without the skeg except in a strong quartering sea. Deploy the skeg and she goes on rails.
I have to cast my vote for FAST. She eats up ground at a good clip with very little effort. Though I didn't test her against any other boats or with a GPS, I could see the shoreline sliding by and she FELT quick. As to a nineteen foot boat being faster... well, sure. there are formulae that will tell you that. It's the extra waterline...and, btw, its the boat Ike paddles, too, even though he has his choice of kayaks in a very extensive inventory.
She's comfortable, too. The seat and back band work well together...the adjustment system for the back band...a ratcheted affair...provides easy, positive fit control. Plenty of room for my legs. Good foot pegs, easily adjustable. Coaming height felt natural for an easy swing of the paddle. All I could ask, even after several hours of paddling.
Ike gave a great deal, both trade-in on my Narwhal and discount on his slightly damaged demo, which happened to be one of the two colors I would have wanted anyway.
I brought her home to Florida and took her to a good glass man. Something had to be done about the broken thigh tab. Since I had the Arthritis problem in my knees and never missed the broken tab (plenty of bracing room under the coaming) I decided to open things up a bit by having the tabs removed. It will be better for MY fit and won't hurt a thing for anyone else my size. After all, this is a big man's boat, anyway. I can't see myself trading this boat in.
The problem I had with the boat, and the ONLY reason I didn't immediately buy the boat is that I banged my shins on the keyhole cockpit every time I entered or exited the darn thing. BUT... I have a total knee replacement and have lost about 15 percent range of movement in the right knee. THIS is the reason that each paddler should paddle each boat you consider before buying. After the test paddle, the Assateague owner paddled his Assateaque and I paddled my Swift and we went a total of nearly 13 miles in varied conditions, crossing seas, two or three foot swells, wakes from various boats and with and against the tides. The boat performed flawlessly. I must emphasize, this boat was not for sale, my friend was letting me test his boat "on for size." He loves his boat and is not even considering a change. For reference purposes I am 5'11", 210 pounds and in reasonably decent shape other than the bum knee.
By the way I'm 6'5" and 200pounds with size 14 feet. I fit very well in this boat but have had to pad out the bulkhead to brace my feet which is just fine. I've also added hip wedges to the seat stays as the boat will accommodate a much bigger fella with a greater girth.
I like the depth of the cockpit and bracing against the coaming flanges is excellent. The seat is fine if a little short (they all are for me) and lacks some of the contouring to really cup your butt that I would prefer.
The backband is the immersion research and is excellent. Very comfortable and supportive yet allows me to move around at will.
The boat paddles and handles extremely well and is a fairly dry ride which I prefer to a really wet ride that non rockered boats usually provide. It is quite stable on center and has a linear stability curve right over on its side.
As I say it turns well and I like that feature best of all. I have played in really big waves at a local high volume rapids and it is great fun and allows me some directional control even though the water is moving so fast. It also tracks well enough to be easy to paddle straight. I have not been on a big water trip with it yet and therefore haven't used the skeg.
I will say that it is not a fast kayak. Some reviewers say that it is but maybe they are really strong paddlers. I've paddled this boat on a dead flat day with 2 others, 1 in a NDK explorer (not especially fast) and 1 in a stitch and glue that was 19 feet long and 21" wide. The explorer and I were side by side but neither could stay even close to the other guy if he even so much as picked up his cadence. I sprinted with all I had and all I do is make a big wake. This boat has lots of curves which are great for turning and rough water but, as I say you can see it disturbs the water a lot by its wake. Fast enough for me, but not notably fast in the big picture of sea kayaks.
I love this kayak, it's easy to pack dry, oval VCP hatches, the deck layout, the style and looks, the quality and most of all the paddling. If I would change anything, I would like it to be a bit narrower for speed and sportiness but then it would be a different boat. As it is it fits a lot of bigger people and really big guys as well, has great overall stability, swallows a lot of gear, and is fun and playful. A great guide/instructor boat: the prospector of kayaks (I'm a canoe head as well) I love it and welcome questions from p.netters.
Features and comfort:
The demo I tried was in great condition. Demos take a beating, so the state of the demo says something of the boat. The Assateague comes in a glass (57lbs), Kevlar (50lbs), or Carbon-Kevlar (48lbs) lay-up depending upon your standards or the depth of your wallet. Impex's prices are very competitive, ranging from $2500 to $3500 depending upon the material.
The Assateague is 17 feet, 10 inches long and 22.5 inches wide, mid-ship is a roomy 13.75 inches. The kayak I tested paddled was of glass construction. Bulkheads and coaming were "glassed" in and the kayak had a sturdy feel to it. The bulkhead behind the cockpit is glassed on an angle to limit water volume in the event of capsize. I sat on the back deck and the glass was not giving to my weight. The deck layout is very nice. Two large oval VCP hatches, bow and stern, provide easy access to gear along with a day hatch behind the cockpit. Perimeter lines were fore and aft and the bungie-cord layout provided many options for gear placement on the deck. There's also a recess on the bow for a compass. Skeg control was smooth and easily adjusted. The cockpit coaming was solid with enough "grab" providing a tight fit for my neoprene sprayskirt. The foot braces had a solid feel, were well constructed and adjusted easily. A security cleat is located behind the cockpit.
The cockpit dimensions were 17x32. I did not have a ruler to measure the precise measurements from the seat to the front edge of the coming, but the Impex backrest is an Immersion Research design that can be adjusted easily to fit the needs of the individual paddler. I had to put the foot pegs all the way back to get the proper fit in the kayak. But the beauty of this fit was that my feet were not touching the top deck as they do in most other kayaks. I could also put my legs straight out comfortably. This provided a level of comfort not easily found in most of today's kayaks.
The seat was solid and supported all around. It did not wiggle or bend when under stress. The thigh braces were very comfortable with just the right amount of closed cell paddling. I was very comfortable bracing and edging the kayak and maintained excellent contact points when performing standard maneuvers such as sweep strokes, edging, leaning, and sculling the kayak. The higher deck gave me enough room to properly "knee hang" the kayak. Unlike some cockpit designs, the thigh braces did not "cut" into my thighs nor did they hinder circulation or inhibit me from performing certain maneuvers.
The keyhole cockpit was easy to enter and exit. I did have to push myself up slightly to bend my knees when exiting. If not for other people wanting to test paddle, I could have easily stayed in the kayak all day. Overall, Impex Kayaks is well ahead of the competition when it comes to being comfortable in a kayak.
The Assateague was test paddled in moderate conditions with very little fetch. I did take it out on some exposed water in gusting winds (15-20 knots). While the bow and stern of the Assateague flare slightly, the kayak remains relatively low in the water, but provides a dry ride. The bow rides up and cuts through small chop. While I didn't have the opportunity to test it, I was left with the impression that the Assateague would be a "dry ride" even in rough water.
The kayak maneuvers and turns extremely well. Like other Impex designs, I found the Assateague very responsive to sweep strokes and good edging technique. Edging is crisp. Slight edging will initiate a turn very easily. But the kayak will straighten out rather quickly once you come off your edge. You can utilize a good forward stroke and combine it with edging to make smooth turns. Like other performance kayaks based on British designs, the Assateague responds to good technique and boat control. You don't have to be an expert to enjoy the Assateague, but the kayak definitely reinforces and rewards good technique.
The Assateague slices through the water efficiently. Forward momentum is achieved with little effort. I did not have a GPS or a way to monitor my exact speed, but according to a paddler who joined me the Assateague was moving very fast.
The Assateague strikes a good balance between initial and secondary stability. The boat is slightly tippy in flat water, but if you've got good brace skills you can lean it way "out there". When out of the light wind and chop I hardly noticed the slight waves on the water. A new paddler might find the kayak tippy, but it only takes a few minutes to get adjusted to the feel of the kayak. There's a definite line between being upside down and right side up. I didn't have the opportunity to take the kayak out in rough water though and will follow-up this review with a "rough water" review.
Like most kayaks of British design, the Assateague weathercocks slightly in a quartering wind. But a little less than other British style kayaks I've tried. The winds during the test paddle were gusting at 20knots. Beam winds have less influence on the kayak than quartering winds. The Assateague cuts into head winds effectively and takes following winds well. I did not have the opportunity to surf the kayak on swells or heavy fetch. Dropping the skeg neutralized weathercocking dramatically.
The skeg is made of a well constructed, 3/8th thick plastic. The skeg construction and placement are very nice. The skeg design and housing are very clean and it operates easily. It almost acts like an extension of the keel when deployed and keep the kayak straight. And it's a big, deep skeg and in the wind it really makes a difference! Impex didn't cut any corners with their skeg design.
Finally, rolling the Assateague is easy. I was able to perform extended paddle rolls, sweep rolls, and "C to C" rolls with very little effort. It's even easier to roll than my CD Sirocco. "Laybacks" are easy. After rolling, an examination of the hatches proved that they were still dry.
To be honest, I did not want to get out of this kayak at the end of the day. I liked it that much. And you can bet which kayak is at the top of my purchase list! My rating is 9 out of 10. But I will follow this review up with a "rough water" and "surfing" report as soon as I get a chance. If it handles the rougher conditions well, a 10 out of 10 is in order.
If you're looking for a British-style kayak that will allow you to take extended paddles in comfort, performs and responds well to paddling technique, has good capacity to extended trips, accommodates the larger paddler and is reliable, the Assateague is perfect for you. Impex has successfully manufactured a performance kayak that doesn't leave the larger paddler landlocked. Finally. A manufacturer combines performance and comfort in one kayak.
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