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I live on the windward side of the big island of Hawaii, and we have SURF! This kayak is great going out and coming in. It has just the right amount of frontal buoyancy to lift up when going out through the whitewash, and side-surfs in ok, although it is a bit tricky due to the raised seat (criticism #1).
I take it 4 miles up the coast, where I camp for 3-7 days. I can fit full camping/survival gear inside it, without using the tank well for extra storage, which is criticism #2, I don't like rear tank wells, because your gear is exposed, and when loading a kayak, most of the weight must go in the rear or else it won't steer right, so I don't get the single hatch up front, where you can't put much weight.
Anyway, this little kayak is totally seaworthy, it can handle chop, swells, and hawaiian surf. I am very impressed, and you will not find an ocean-able plastic sit-on-top that weighs so little. Its speed is good too. Don't let the marketing boys sling their slop on you - this is NOT a women's kayak, it is a kayak for smaller paddlers. I flipped it coming in once, and it only took on 1 cup of water, ie. the hatch is quality.
As an experienced ocean kayaker, I recommend this boat (I also recommend thigh straps). Aloha!
I own and race surfskis and other long and narrow sea kayaks, but this little Venus 11 is by far the most enjoyable. Yesterday I checked the speed with my stop watch for a one mile sprint run and it clocked at 14 minutes with head winds around 20 miles per hour, going back I was able to make it in a 12 minutes run. I used my usual Epic Wing paddle for the test. The maximum speed I get out of my Fenn Mako surfski is usual 8 minutes per mile sprint.
Anyway, congratulation to the designers of the Venus 11 model kayak, although the boat is very wide, heavy and short, it does defines logic for its great performance. My weight is 100 pound and I am 5'2" tall, I paddled all kinds of different boats over many years, but prefer the feel of sitting on top of a kayak instead of inside.
I am 60 and only 5'4" and not especially strong (yet - more paddling and I will be) and I can load the Venus on the top of my Subaru Forester and take it off without assistance (I load the Venus from the back of the car picking up the front of the kayak first and then sliding it on the roof - I would not be able to load it from the side without another person helping) I would not be able to load the much heavier Prowler 13 alone - even from the back of the car. Don't get me wrong, the Venus is heavy for me to move about, but it is manageable.
Anyway - I give the Venus a big thumbs up - I love being able to load it up and go out without needing help. The Venus is fun and maneuverable. It does not feel as stable as the Prowler 13 (which is like a rock), but I don't find it to be tippy.
ps - the Prowler 13 is also great
I visited my Ocean dealer about 9 months ago with a desire to buy a sit-on for paddling on the local canals and lakes but was unsure about which model to buy. I looked at the Frenzy, Scrambler, Caper, Scupper Pro and Prowler 13/15 but was not totally happy with any of them for various reasons. The dealer then, rather apologetically, suggested a women's kayak which he kept round the back of the shop. Visions of a girlie pink offering were unfounded and a blue Venus 11 appeared. Despite the 'Venus 11' logo (which still creates some adverse comment 12 months on) it was purchased.
What a brilliant little boat. VERY stable (but then anything is stable compared to a Nordkapp LV), very comfortable after a seat upgrade and very manouverable. Thigh straps were added more for reassurance than anything else together with scupper stoppers to reduce the water coming in but these are rarely used. The bow is fine with a little flare so it cuts through the waves in choppy water and there is enough stowage for day trips. The 28" beam provides more than enough stability to move around in the boat and the boat is better than expected when running across the waves.
Minor detrimental points are a tendancy for the hull to slap when side on to the waves and the bow tends to bury itself in deepish swells because of the relatively short length and send water into the footwells. The last point is not really a problem because it drains away and I tend to use a dry suit in anything other than summer. The alternative is a longer, less manouverable boat or a flared bow which will be uncomfortable in the same conditions. It would benefit from a skeg or rudder because it can wander and is difficult to paddle in a truely straight line. It is not as fast as my Nordkapp but it has handled 12/15 mile trips with no problems. It is also light enough to put on the car roof rack with ease (although not in a strong wind).
A bad point is the fittings for the paddle keeper which have skinned my knuckles on more than one occasion. Resessed fittings (like Valley) would be a great improvement. Replacing these would give it a ten point rating.
Overall a very nice little boat which does most things well. It is far too good to be restricted to use by women only(!). I am thinking of changing the Nordkapp but I have no plans to change this boat.
P.S. A great web site. I wish I had found it 12 months ago.
There is a rim that runs along the top of the boat that channels water away from the cockpit. Unfortunately, the handle wells on each side of the boat create a break. The result is that the water being channeled around the entire boat by the rim ultimately flows into the boat through the handle wells and into the seating area. The end result is that, even on the calmest days, there is a steady trickle of water soaking the seat.
When I purchased the boat, I upgraded to the Comfort Deluxe seating, only to find that it is virtually impossible to keep the seat dry. (I have no such problem with the Scrambler.) The seat that comes standard with the Venus 11 gets equally wet.
I believe that a waterproof, thermo-molded foam seat like the "Comfort Pro Backrest" would alleviate this problem. But certainly not the Comfort Deluxe, which is the suggested upgrade. I just ordered a new seat. I will report back on this issue once I have had a chance to test it.
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