Over the past 25 years I have owned 4 Royak Kayaks. it burned in a house fire. I bought a new one and it was stolen. I now own 2 that I bought off Craigs List. I am now and have been totally in love with this machine. Over those years I have owned 5-6 other kayaks, but always felt they didn't compare with a Royak.
Paddling is smooth and comfortable. Paddler sits with rump below water line and the boat has a built-in water ballast. Stability is excellent! Storage is more than adequate. The rounded bow disperses the force of any chop or waves you encounter and helps keep the ride smooth. I do mostly ocean paddling in Ventura, California. I prefer paddling on windy choppy seas type days because the Royak deals with those conditions very well.
The Royak is the most efficiently designed boat I have ever paddled. Mr. Grabenhauer designed a fantastic boat. I could never recommend it highly enough.I'm in my second season of paddling the grand lady of my banana brigade, the Royak, and must say that overall she is a good paddling machine. I personally like the unique torpedo shape with the bow shaped like a porpoise's head. I normally paddle the Royak on lakes and in the SF Bay and the boat handles pretty well.
The Royak has a built-in skeg with slight rocker and can be be little difficult to keep straight, especially on windy days. A good lean and a corrective stroke or two puts you back on course. In terms of speed, although the boat is 22" wide and 14' long, the hull is designed for multi-purpose paddling and therefore not a speed demon, especially on the flats. For touring and camping, if you are a take your time, enjoy the sights & sounds paddler, speed is decent with some good glide, definitely better than some other SOT barges. However, she really comes alive on waves, and that's where she shines. Going quickly into head winds, she rides effortlessly over the waves and surfs forward pretty fast. I don't have to paddle as hard and can concentrate on staying on course. You must be diligent on beam seas and rear quartering waves as she wants to turn on her own and can get a little ungainly. Initially stability is fair to good depending paddling experience and secondary stability is excellent. The boat has a lockable rear cargo hatch that can hold tons of gear.
The Royak is called the "little wet boat", and for good reason. The cockpit is form fitted and there is one drain hole that is separated from the cockpit by the molding located directly under the center grab handle. Water can accumulate so you can end up sitting in a puddle. Okay if you are wearing a wetsuit or paddle in warm water but should probably use a sponge. I would highly recommend a back pad and a PFD with thin or no back foam. After 1.5 - 3 hours of paddling, my back is pretty sore.
All in all, I think it is a fun and classic boat that still has relevancy in the modern era of the SOT.I have been reading a lot of reviews in magazines and on-line but have yet to come across one that has evaluated the Royak. It is a 14', sit-on-top with a narrow beam of 22". Some might think that this boat would be tippy, however, one sits very low in a molded seat. The bulbous bow and the stern offer additional flotation. A cavernous dry box is located between the feet and a large sliding hatch behind the seat can accommodate two-piece paddles, several vests, masks, fins etc. Even a scuba tank and BC will fit, albeit not at the same time as the rest. The foot pegs are adjustable. I purchased the cushion and it is placed against the backrest I find the seating very comfortable.
Initial stability is superior. So much so that one can flip their legs over one side into the water and turn sideways in this narrow boat. It has a built-in keel that helps tracking straight, but the real fun is in how easily it turns and accelerates. I'm a hefty 5'8" with about 10 years avid paddling experience in oceans, rivers (not white water)and lakes. My other kayak is a Romany 16 and my first boat was a Necky Sport. I can paddle as fast in the Royak as I can in the Romany, as measured by GPS. The bow will kick up quite a wake, yet it bobs over the swells. This boat is easy to use with rigid fixed handles fore and aft, but does not have deck lines or rigging. The rear compartment is very large, but is not close to being watertight. However, the sliding hatch is high above the water line, while the rest remains low. A large dry bag handles all my gear. One will get-wet in this boat, however, being seated low in the water enhances stability and a narrow boat allows for the use of a shorter paddle.
Several friends and my wife paddle this boat and as beginner kayakers, have experienced trouble tracking straight. With a little lean and/or paddle stroke correction and a little time, the problem self corrects. I have no problem whatsoever. I even enjoy paddling backwards at speed.
When I was first inquiring about the boat, Steve at Royak Marine, friendly and helpful as he was, stated that this was like a top-of-the-line mountain bike that did a lot well. I am not disappointed with the purchase made three years ago and agree with his analogy.