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I rate the Suka way up there on my list....better than the Caribou, Solstice, Capella, Seayak, etc... Why? I like the perfect fit. It feels like I'm one with the kayak. The hard chine makes for a easy turn while leaning to one side. The cockpit is large enough to pull out my legs to dangle on the side. The size is just right for me. Easy to paddle and portage. For super long distance, I use my Nordkapp. And for straight line exercise & speed I'd use my V10-S surfski.
The Suka is new for this year and not too easy to demo, so I seized the chance to Suka-Suka and take her out twice, one week apart. Here are my initial impressions after paddling the Suka in calm lake and channel conditions with mild winds of about 10 mph.
Smaller paddlers now have their version of the much beloved Caribou. The Suka's modified V hull, with a graceful shear and hard chine, carves turns and holds an edge with ease. I'd expect my skills to surge upward w. such a nimble kayak. The layback position aft looks very accessible for rolling, and the front deck is low and cuts wind effect. This is a streamlined kayak - everything she needs, nothing she doesn't. A day hatch for me is not essential as I dislike deck clutter and don't haul a lot of stuff while daytouring.
Turns - nada problema with a Greenland style hull. Turns are accomplished before you finish thinking about it.
Going straight into the wind or with the wind behind me - presto, no skeg.
The skeg like many is on a slider.
The Suka was so efficient for my size that the kayak outfitters were laughing and hollering "Slow up, Deborah, this is a no wake zone!". I sure was smiling. It was like skimming the water, not paddling down through it.
The beam is 21" and not at all tippy. I paddle a 20" beam on my North Shore Fuego. I've come to believe that tippiness is a self-perpetuating state of mind, and that beginners talk themselves out of trying more narrow kayaks. They are missing some great experiences and possibly wasting money on a kayak that is too beamy and bargelike for where they might be in a year, if they choose to progress in the sport.
I could never be bored with the Suka.
This one had a tangerine deck and mango hull (available by custom order)with a coaming also of mango. Quite showy but in a preening birdlike way. The bulkheads were therefore a translucent mango, flush with late sunset glow. The rep commented that CD not only saved some weight there, but also made it easier to see inside the hatches.
The hatches themselves had a car-door style seal, same as my Fuego, which I rely on to stay extremely tight and dry. The Suka's hatch covers are flush to the decks, adding to her sleek profile, and secured by three buckling straps apiece. While the buckling pattern is not intuitive, once mastered it can be done with one (partially gloved) hand. No worries about losing these hatches on the highway or in the water, or during self rescue, no sir.
Deck rigging is full and, with typical CD innovation, a reflective weave is added to make them more visible when light is shined upon them. I paddled in the daytime so could not put this to the test.
I find the thigh braces comfortable and perfectly set up. Again, people who may think they are "too aggressive" may be building this up more in their minds than in actuality. The cockpit goes 29" x 16" with a 12" depth and offers plenty of exit room for an appropriately sized paddler who is comfortable with a wet exit.
I heartily commend the CD Design Team (it was a group effort) for not dumbing down a new entry in the small paddler touring market. This is a full-on miniCaribou for either the male or female paddler who can fit the cockpit and seeks the Greenland feel of a true British seakayak.
Oh the Suka.. the name, according to CD, is from an Inuit word for "swift". Suka also means, in various cultures "sugar", a tropical cocktail, or, in Russian, a female dog (bitch).
I'd call the Suka one sweet, swift bitch. Only reason she's getting a 9 is that I don't own one... yet.
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