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This is not my first kayak so I am very aware of how responsive the ISLAY handles. She skips over waves and I did not experience taking on very much water from splashing even without a spray skirt. The quality of construction is phenomenal. Another plus is that I am able to lift and carry it with relative ease.
Whatever VENTURE did to engineer this product, they were highly successful! I LOOOOVE this kayak and am a very happy paddler!
My paddling background; full time, the sport and the equipment is my year round job and vice-versa I am ACA L4 Coastal Kayak and L4 White Water Instructor, Adapative Paddling Certified at The River Connection, Inc. (9 West Market St., Hyde Park, NY 12538; www.the-river-connection.com).
My Specs: I am 6', 189lbs, size 11 shoe, 33" inseam and 32 waist. I paddle with a very high angle style and usually use a Mitchell Black Magic 215cm, a Saltwood Reggie 215cm or Werner Cyprus 215cm paddle and sometimes a 36" single blade Mitchell Touring Special as my back up. My usual ride is a Cetus MV (17'7"x21.5") or an Aries 155 if I'm playing in the surf or pool.
The Islay breaks from the common sedate mold with a design that inspires confidence in it's stability range but also is a hoot to play with! With a long waterline running clear back to the end of the stern and with a sharp rake to the bow makes the glide on this 14' is appreciable and appreciated on a longer day's paddle. On an even keel tracking is very polite but does not feel as if it is cemented to the track you are on. With just a slight shift in body weight to heel the kayak into a skidding turn it comes around very sharply allowing you to turn on your pursuers and score while at Dodge-Sponge (yes, serious stuff this kayaking). Some of it's mobility can bee seen, especially in the aft portion of the hull, derived from the P&H Delphin and Aries. The Swedeform and greater volume amidships not only gives a very confident range of secondary stability but allows for the stems to break free when heeled up. In windier conditions there is the P&H Foil Skeg that spring deploys with the release of a up haul cord on deck left and aft of the cockpit.
The interior outfitting uses the Twist Lock Footbraces that can be adjusted from the seat. Fore/Aft adjustable thigh braces can be fine tuned (on land) to the paddlers leg length.
A security bar (lock point) is riveted in so as to keep your gear yours when cartopping.
The deck box is removable and makes for a very convenient day hatch for quite a few small items
The Flip Top back rest can be either in low mode which will not inhibit the use of a sprayskirt or if you are just hanging out on the water fishing or reading then it can be set to full Barca-Lounger mode. The backbend tension is adjusted by way of a forward ratchet seen on the left thigh brace.
At $1300 USD the Islay provides for a day touring kayak that doesn't feel as if you are parting the waters to make way and allows for a greater range of skills to develop, with confidence, rather than falling into the Beginners Boat - Multiple Upgrade Purchase scenario. For many that don't want or need the speed performance that a 17'+ hull would provide this could be an extremely fun and effective answer for the day to weekend overnighter kayaker.
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