I recently had the opportunity to test paddle the new Scorpio LV at Sea Cliff Kayaker's recent October 2008 Northeastern Kayak Camp on the coast of Rhode Island. This camp was conducted by two excellent coach/instructors: John Carmody and Ben Lawry.
John had just taken delivery on the boat from P&H and it was still sporting new factory tags. Initially John asked me if I wanted to try it on for fit, since I had indicated to him that I had demoed the Standard Scorpio at The River Connection on the Hudson River (Hyde Park, NY) earlier this summer. I had really liked the standard Scorpio's characteristics, but it was simply too big on me. I go 5'9" and about 150 pounds with size 10 feet. I slipped into the cockpit. The boat was a decent fit and I had yet to adjust either the pegs or movable thigh/knee braces. I could get my bum in the boat and then slip in my feet, which is a feature I really appreciate in a kayak. I estimate that those having feet much over size 10.5 or 11 are going to find foot room quite snug. This is due to the relatively low fore deck and the 'knee tube' that forms the compartment for the fourth hatch. I had no problems using my size 10.5 ankle-high Five-Ten water booties with a dry suit and medium weight socks.
After lunch on Day one of the camp John asked if I would like give it a test drive? Oh, boy! The Scropio LV would end up being the only boat I would paddle for the next 3+ days as my own Valley Avocet RM sat collecting sand on the shore.
Conditions: I paddled the boat in a variety of conditions from nearly pancake flat water with less than 5 knot winds, up to 4-5' seas with some breaking waves, steady 20 knot winds and some higher gusts.
In short the Scorpio LV was a dream to paddle. It is one of the few plastic boats I have been in that feel like a composite kayak. It paddles and maneuvers as well backward as it does forward. The Scorpio LV exhibited very good initial stability for kayak with a 21" beam, yet I could really crank it up on edge before I got it past the point of no return (great secondary stability).
The Scorpio LV did very well in the soup and handled the 4-5' beam seas without difficulty. It holds a straight course better than my Avocet RM, but turns just as well if edged. Boy does it turn.
I noticed that the Scorpio does weathercock quite a bit more than either of my Valley boats. This is easily corrected with proper use of the skeg. I did not have to fully deploy the skeg in the 20+ knot beam winds. P&H's new 'Kink-Free' skeg is quite different in design than those I have previously used. It is not quite a simple slider. As a rookie user, I did struggled a bit with skeg deployment and adjustment. I simply should have asked John or Ben how to use the new skeg, but I was reluctant to look a bit foolish. Note to self: "The only stupid questions are the ones not asked". :-[
I came across this video after I returned home from the camp. I recommend it to all potential P&H kayak users. I was definitely trying to squeeze the slider and click release mechanism together, which IS NOT the way to adjust this skeg.
The Scorpio LV is equipped with four Kajaksport hatches. Apparently P&H uses slightly different Kajaksport lids on their new composite boats. The forward/aft hatch covers on the Scorpio and Scorpio LV are of a soft rubber material, where as the hatches on the new composite P&H kayaks have a harder plastic-like top with softer rubber-like sides (the day hatches are the same on both composite and poly P&H boats). I am not sure why P&H uses slightly different forward/aft hatch covers on it's composite boats than on the Scorpio series. Cost?
I did have to adjust my mounting technique when using the Scorpio's Kajaksport covers. I am quite use to using VCP lids, which have almost a Tupperware-like seal. I found that the soft rubber Kajaksport hatches had some stretch to them. They are almost like mounting a tight spray deck or cockpit cover. At times I would just about have the aft KS hatch fully mounted when it would slip off the opposite side of the rim. Once properly sealed, the KS covers proved to be water tight. I had no unintentional hatch dislodgements, even after performing a number of rescues. I had previously experienced this sort of problem on the 2004 Tempest 165 Pro, that I once owned (with Wildy's proprietary hatches).
The Scorpio LV is the only boat, since my Tempest, that I could perform a successfully scramble/cowboy rescue on. I believe that is due to the very flat aft deck and the boat's overall stability.
The Scorpio LV rolled quite nicely, but I could probably do even better with some additional personalized fit adjustments.
- A very nice all-round British Sea kayak. It actually feels like a composite boat
- Overall cockpit fit
- Handling: a very nice balance of initial and secondary stability
- Great forward and reverse maneuverability, yet the Scorpio LV still has very decent tracking (ability to hold a straight heading)
- Excellent rough water handling manners
- Outfitting: handy 4th hatch, 'kink-free' skeg, very comfortable seat pan and backband, even without the seat pad in-place (see below)
- Tri-laminate poly construction. You can kick the Sh!t out of it.
- With an MSRP of $2,000 it is not cheap for a plastic sea kayak. That is about $250 more than comparable Valley RM boat, but it is $1,400 less than a stock P&H composite kayak.
- I would prefer that P&H use the same Kajaksport hatch covers on the Scorpio LV that they use on all their new composite boats. I actually tried the aft lid off a new Cetus on the Scorpio and I found it a bit easier to mount. It snapped right into place without stretching and slipping off the hatch rim.
- I had an issue once on a reentry. The P&H backband became really twisted around. I almost had to wet exit the boat again to unwind the backband, but I received an assist from a follow paddler. It should be noted that the fabric/foam seat pad had not yet been installed in this boat. It is shipped that way from the factory and the pad was stored in the forward compartment. The presence of the seat pad might have aided in keeping the backband in place.
I need to spend more time using the new P&H skeg slider. I am obviously not accustom to it.
Observation: on the last day of the camp we had our boats lined up on the beach prior to launching. We were working on navigation 'problems'. One of the teams actually used the aft deck of my Scorpio to lay out their chart and calculate their course. Two in their group apparently ended up pulled quite a bit of weight on the deck of the Scorpio. Ben noticed that they had deformed the hatch cover. Initially I didn't think anything of it. Ben reset the lid, but then I watched him put up on the aft deck lines near the day hatch to pull the deck up. Apparently the aft deck had sagged a bit under the combined upper body weight of the two paddlers. This surprised me a wee bit. The Scorpio is built from stiffer tri-laminate poly. It was not a hot day, nor where the paddlers overly heavy.
Standard Declaimer: I have no affiliation with P&H or Sea Cliff Kayakers, nor do I own a P&H boat.
Scorpio LV specs:
Length: 509 cm / 16'7"
Width: 53.8cm / 21"
Volume: 2755 lts / 73 gals
Weight Range: 45-105 kgs / 99-235 lbs
Depth: 325 mm / 12.8"
Front hatch: 35 lts / 9 gals
Day Hatch: 17.6 lts / 4.6 gals
Rear Hatch: 55.6 lts / 14.7 gals
Fourth Hatch: 4 lts / 1 gal
Cockpit Length (internal): 75.7 cm / 30"
Cockpit Width (internal): 45 cm / 17.7"
Cockpit Length (external): 84 cm / 33"
Cockpit Length (external): 48c m / 18.8"