I took delivery of a New Looksha II July 27 2005. I had decided to convert from whitewater slalom to distance racing to see what it was like. The race I chose to enter was the 45 mile Phatwater Challenge from Grand Gulf to Natchez Miss.
I trained for 6 weeks with the goal of paddling 6 hours nonstop at 4.6 to 5.0 mph average on a lake close to my house.
The Looksha II was a blast. The cockpit was very close to my training Nomad Extra Slalom K1. The boat is fast and runs well before the wind, across the wind and up wind. I trained every day for 6 weeks in weather up to 25 mph winds and 1.5 to 2 foot chop.
On October 10th 2005 I began the Phatwater with the goal of going sub 6 hours. Having never raced a distance greater than 200 yards before I stuck to my training stroke rate and finished the course at 5 hours 16 minutes and 23 seconds. I had no cramps, no pain, the Looksha II was excellent. The wind was from behind all day and she runs well before the wind.
I encountered several tows (tugs and barges). One tow caught me in a narrow section of river. When the paddler in front of me encountered the wake he dropped from site with only the top edge of his paddle visible to me. There were 4 rollers of this size and the Looksha II blew threw them with ease. The trouble began with the reflected waves from shore which were traveling faster, were breaking, and were steep. The Looksha II rose well in the first wave with water breaking on the deck after the bow hatch. The first wave left a lot of bow in the air so she crashed down pretty good into the second wave. There was air under the middle of the boat so I had to brace and take the second wave in the gut about navel high. The third and forth steep waves were a blur but the Looksha II recovered well and I was back up to speed rather quickly after the fourth wave.
I would give the boat a 10 with the exception of rolling. The rear deck is cut too high and I normally roll up on the rear deck. I compensate by slowly rolling her up till she is on her side then rotating the paddle blade over and finish the stroke like a C1 and come up in a low brace. A friend is going to teach me some Greenland Kayak rolls that should ease this problem. Fit and finish is great. The Looksha II is a beautiful boat. So I give her a 9.5. I guess my ego cannot accept that my whitewater roll is not strong enough so I will blame it on the boat.OK, finally in possession of the Looksha II and gave her the baptismal first paddle this morning..a perfectly calm day with nary a trace of wind...too early to rate the boat and honestly I was transfixed on the myriad of colors the trees surrounding the lake were projecting to fully judge the kayak..this says a lot considering the Looksha II has a reputation for 'tippiness'..initial impressions though were good, entry was not a problem and felt no tighter than the Nordkapp Jubilee, the seat is even more comfortable with the seat-back compared to the backband on the Brittish boat, it was not as comfortable as the seat in my old Sea-Lion. The extension rods (lack of a better term) of the Smart Rudder System did press against the sides of my legs until I moved them (my legs) toward the middle of the boat, and speaking of the Smart Rudder, it is worth the money, solid bracing and with just the wiggle of a toa rudder control-someone was thinking out of the box. This boat requires a rudder to track at any speed, while slowly paddling I pulled up the rudder and maintained a straight course easily but when accelerating to speed it was necessary. I was surprised and impressed with how quickly and smoothly the boat turned with the rudder. I havent put the GPS on the deck to check hull speed and my 'feelings' were too subjective this morning with all the fall splendor. Also, deck height seemed not a problem with a Greenland paddle for those who use one. I haven't checked the weight of the boat but (again subjective I know) lifting/shouldering it 25 yards to the lake told me it is much lighter than the Nordkapp and a bit heavier than the Sea Lion....
One strange perception, for a boat 20 feet long, once in the cockpit it didnt seem that long, and the blunt nose (from a sitting downward view toward the bow) is strange for a boat that is so aquiline in profile appearance.
It was worth the wait and I am glad to add it to my small fleet of kayaks. I will post a weight when possible.