I purchased two of these in glass - one for the lady. I have a rope skeg, she has the cable. Overall, we both love the fit (I'm 5-10, 180# w/size 11 feet, fwiw)& performance. While I wouldn't call myself an expert, I have been paddling over 30 years & find it handles superbly. For my wife, this is her first real touring boat after about 4 years paddling and, after some initial hesitation about stability, she is extremely comfortable in it.
Complaints / issues? Here's a few to be aware of:
My rope skeg leaked upon arrival. There was a dimple with a pinhole in the skeg box, which appears to be a mfg defect. Easily repaired with a dab of epoxy. The cable skeg, while operating smoothly, clanks in the skeg housing while paddling whether up or down. This was the reason I went with the rope skeg, having demo'd a boat with the cable skeg that did the same thing.
The skeg - at least the cable skeg - also slows the boat markedly (I also have a CD Scirocco in which the skeg produces little noticeable drag). The rope skeg extends much deeper in the water than the cable skeg; I should probably paddle my wife's to compare the two. This fact aside, I find I rarely use the skeg anyway, even under strong wind & current conditions when my Scirocco would practically demand it.
The seating also leave something to be desired (but then again most do). I will probably replace the backband or put in a foam back pillar at some point.I am: 6'2, 235 pound male with size 12 feet.
The Romany Surf is a boat marketed for surfing and day touring. The boat succeeds with both. It weighs in at 54 Lbs and is balanced nicely for carrying on your shoulder. SKUK has posted on its website the amount of fibreglass used on each section of the boat. This boat is solid.
The cockpit is large and makes entry and exit a breeze. I have no trouble getting in seat first. There is lots of room for my size 12 feet. I have the foot pegs adjusted two notches from the end. The bump outs on the top deck fit my knees comfortably giving me a good contact with the boat. I will be adding a thin layer of foam in this location to make it softer on the knees. The standard back band offers good support, but little padding. I usually replace all factory ones with an Immersion Research Reggie, which I have done with this boat. It has the usual bungees forward and aft with perimeter lines.
The primary stability is solid; it can move easily from edge to edge but doesn't feel tippy. The secondary is secure and very predictable. The boat tracks very straight and does not weathercock in the wind. The boat is very good in the surf. It catches waves and maintains speed on waves very easily. This is where the boat shines!
It accelerates moderately to a cruising speed of 5 km and this pace can be maintained with little effort in moderate waves.
I have to be honest my roll is not very good, but kayak friends have rolled it with little effort. The exit and re-entry is easy with the low back deck and lines. Draining the boat is easy with the angled bulk head behind the seat. There is very little water left to pump out.
The boat is suited as a day tripper, but packing would not be a problem for a couple of days. The hatch covers are very good and have a tight seal. No water has been found even after a day of rolling and water finding its way in the cockpit.
This boat is so much fun to paddle in challenging waters. It is stable and predictable enough for a novice, but it is sporty enough for an expert which I do not claim to be. This boat will be hanging in my garage for years to come.I like this boat a great deal. I've had my Romany (no skeg) since Sept 1999. The short length makes it very manuevarable and I'll often turn it for the fun of it. I'm 5'9" and about 170lb. It seemed a bit tight a first (also being a new kayaker) but now, it feels comfortable and bigger boats seem way too loose. The fiberglas seat is comfortable for me but the backband can pinch along the top rear of the seat.
The boat is 16ft but, as the bow and stern are upswept, there is much less waterline. It also has a fair amount of rocker. This makes the boat manueverable but track less well than a boat with a longer waterline. The boat will run straighter with a more vertical paddle stroke and pulling the paddle out a bit earlier (i.e. don't run the stroke far back past your hips). A skeg would also help the tracking in some situations.
While this boat might be a bit slow for racing, a competent paddler should be able to keep to the front of a touring group. As far as I can tell, the initial stability is low to medium (as it should be, in my opinion) and the secondary stability is medium. You want "loose hips" in this boat but you probably won't be suprized as one might be in a narrower boat. I can manage to paddle the boat forward while looking backward.
I suspect that many people get longer boats because of the allure of week-long expeditions which they never attempt. With a bit of care, this boat is fine for multiday trips and you don't have to carry the extra wind-catching volume on day trips. Try a shorter boat.
I like having the day hatch because I can get to it on the water and can keep things off the deck. If you are a bit bigger, you might also look at the Vally Avocet, which is similar but with a bit more volume. The Dagger Meridian looks like it might be similar but with more volume. I have no complaints with regard to the construction (which, it appears, can be variable).I bought my diolene Romany 16 in 1995, first production run, no skeg, and I'm still loving it! I chose it as a good all-around boat with an emphasis on surfing and rips, and time has vindicated my decision. It has a little rocker, so is as agile as one could want a seakayak to be, easily making quick turns (so desirable when that perfect wave is bearing down on you!). Its high-volume bow resists burying on steep waves, and the shallow-v hull picks up waves readily. It rolls like a (good) dream and is very comfortable. Cute, too.
Downside? It's not as fast as some longer boats, but still keeps up. Despite the claims in the ads, it does need a skeg: it weathercocks in moderate wind, and in high beam winds and chop can even anti-weathercock if the bow porpoises and is blown downwind. Attention to trim (loading up the bow) takes care of the latter. Following seas are a ball, if you like riding a bronco (which I do), but your paddling pardners will want to give you some room to move in those conditions. This boat improves you paddlework. At 6'0" 210 I ride a little low in the water, a good reason to watch my weight.