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I am 81 and when I get "really old" I bet the Manitou sport will be the boat I use. Nice job Necky!
I highly recommend this boat for anyone who is just starting out, or anyone looking for a good deal that can execute a wide variety of conditions well.
The boat is very easy to paddle, feeling very stable due to it's width, yet able to cut through the water very easily. Because of its length, it doesn't track as straight as a 14'-er, but it does ok. Where it shines is in maneuverability. It turns on a dime. I had an opportunity to take it out in Puget Sound and compare it against a 16' fiberglass kayak and found that it was much easier to paddle, much more stable, actually just as fast, if not faster (I had a race with my 15 year old daughter in the Manitou and she was easily able to push past me!) in rough waters.
I highly recommend this boat for those who use it in a variety of conditions. Be aware, the boat's waterline is slightly low, particularly if you are over 200 lbs, the boat may ride a little low. I would consider this to be a "low volume" style boat.
I took the boat on a 7 mile river float on the Salt Fork in Champaign County, between St Joseph and Sydney. Once I found the best seat and footpeg position, I found it to be quite comfortable. I am 5'10", 210 lbs (gained 40 lbs after quitting smoking), and found the cockpit roomy enough, but a bit of a struggle to get in and out of. That will come with practice.
It was remarkable to me how much quicker you can accelerate in a boat like this with a double paddle versus my friend in the Old Town Pack canoe. That boat can keep up, but it takes it a few strokes before it really starts to move well. I tried feathering the paddle so as to rotate the left-hand side of the paddle (Im right handed) and found it to be OK, but I felt more comfortable with it not feathered for some reason.
My only complaint is that this boat is 44 lbs. My Pack canoe is only 33 lbs. For some reason I was thinking this boat would be easier for me to move around on land than it is. I am going to have a blast with this boat this year, that's for sure. Mostly rivers, but I got the "Fire" colour scheme in the anticipation that I will try it on some lakes, some with larger powerboats.
My husband tried the boat and liked it as well but thought that it might be a little cramped for him after a while. He's 6'0, 180 lbs. I'm 5'3, 155, and it fits me well.
I have to admit I was leery about down-sizing (I also have a Carolina 13.5), but this little boat is absolutely wonderful. The only thing I would change is the hatch cover - I prefer the rubber ones. And that's why it's a 9 and not a 10.
I became more interested in Kayaking again in recent months as a recreational outlet - something I could do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I wanted a versatile boat that I could take to open lake or comfortably navigate a class I or II river. Knowing myself, convenience was also a primary concern. Here I wanted something that would not require a lot extra pampering; something I could quickly throw into the back of my '95 Chevy Pickup and be in the water within a few minutes. In essence I was looking for a lighter, more compact and DURABLE kayak that would fit my lifestyle and sensibility.
After researching the net and then visiting my local outfitter, I narrowed my search to a few boats that best fit what I was looking for. The final two choices were the Necky Manitou Sport and the OT (Old Town) Sport. My wife claims that I tend to be rough on my equipment (whatever it happens to be). Thus I knew I'd do better with a boat that could take the occasional bruise and scrape and not require major cosmetic surgery every year or special pampering. The Necky just feels tough, and it would be pretty hard to break it if I tried. I know this is a boat built to last.
At first however, I was heavily leaning more towards the OT Sport - a fine craft in its own right. I was thoroughly impressed by the OT's overall streamlined design, unique contours and sporty good looks. Climbing inside, I felt this boat fit me like a glove - very well suited for my smaller 5'5 140 lb frame. Compared to the Necky the OT cockpit is quite a bit smaller and somewhat shorter in overall length. To adjust for the wider conformation of the Necky, I placed two 1'' foam pads on the knee rolls, this made for a more custom fit for my body type. Then after spending some time in both (on the dry dock), the more open, less cramped cockpit design of the Necky seemed more appealing.
From my research, and general impression from other enthusiasts whom I have encountered, the Necky Manitou Sport proves to be the better performer in the open water and a better all-around kayak when compared to the OT Sport. Since recreational touring and open water travel would be primary use, TRACKING ability was one of my foremost criteria in choosing the Necky over the OT. This advantage is probably due in part to the Necky's slightly longer frame and well designed built in keel. The OT Sport's hybrid design, apparently draws more characteristics from a true dedicated white water craft, which has a shorter, more streamlined build, and a lower overall profile. Its paired down keel, though adequate in a river setting, would probably not suffice in the open water. However, the OT does provide a more aggressive "drop down" rudder which can be manually adjusted as needed for better tracking. The Necky, built somewhat wider, is probably also more stable than its cousin. That is not to say that the Necky is not a nimble performer in white water. True, if white water where my sole passion, I would probably select a dedicated whitewater kayak versus a 'hybrid type' like the OT Sport or the Necky Sport - something I might consider down the road.
Overall I was quite impressed with Necky Manitou Sport. My open lake "test drive" was a blast and the boat handled exceedingly well despite a moderate cross wind. My personal choice was the Necky, however, take a good look at the OT Sport to compare for yourself. Whichever you choose, I know you will enjoy it as much as I have...
My wife and I tried out the Perception Sundance 9.5, Sundance 12.0, Carolina 14.5 at a Perception Demo days. The Sundance's were a little too wide in both our opinions and the Carolina was a little more than I wanted to spend for a first Kayak.
We stopped at a dealer on the way home and based on our comments for the Perception kayaks, he suggested the Manitou Sport. We sat in the kayaks and the fit was excellent (I'm 5'4" and 160 pounds, my wife is 5'3" and considerably less pounds). We bought two Manitou Sports and took them home with us.
Since then, we've had them in the water every weekend. We live in the California Sierras near lots of alpine lakes, ranging from a few acres to 600+ acres.
Overall, for flatwater alpine lakes, I'm really happy with the kayak
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.
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