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It is an awesome boat for a 3-5 day trip, and I have had no leaks with the rubber hatch covers. I prefer these to the beret-style with plastic covers and cross straps. Stability is amazing- I can see why an Angler version of this boat was made. With this much stability, it is not a super-quick handling boat unless you have some skills at bracing and good paddle technique (which I do hee hee). I have paddled it on slick bayous and rivers and in wicked chop and surf and like to deploy the rudder in chop, as it improves tracking.
I don't think the rudder is standard anymore, so if you are buying this boat, I would suggest having a rudder installed and thigh braces. I am 5 ft 8 and 145 pounds, so I definitely need thigh braces in this boat to maximize the fun. I may be insane, but I have paddled this baby in 4-6 ft seas without a spray skirt and stayed pretty dry. Only time I came out of the boat was due to my own stupidity- lots of chop, no skirt, and heavy winds in the Gulf of Mexico. I was cutting up in the waves and zigged when I should have zagged. Re-entry is easy using cowgirl/cowboy method and paddle as an outrigger. Even when I had to deliberately do wet exits WITH a skirt, the rear deck is ample enough to get you back on board fairly easily.
The boat is roto-molded poly and mine is the sunrise fade- colors are still beautiful and all the fittings are like new- even after salt-water use. There is a neat little spot to install a compass on the front deck and I did put one on.
I would definitely recommend this boat to anyone with a $1K budget. I will ALWAYS keep this boat, but I am a fairly advanced paddler, so my next 'yak will be something more along the lines of the Looksha Elite or Eliza Composite- something faster and more agile in heavy surf. I have been using a Bending Branches Journey paddle with my boat, have a basic Aquabound paddle as a back-up, and a Surge Carbon. I prefer the BB for touring and the Surge is brand new, so I am excited to get out on Lake Michigan and see how that works out.
I say, for the money, this is a pretty good boat. It's not super-fast, but there are other boats for that. It's a good beginner boat, or one if you want a roto-molded boat it's pretty good for the money. I'm a little disappointed in the seat, it could be more comfortable when I look at other boats at this price break. It can "sort of" hold an edge, again more so than other boats at this price-range. I would say at the 14 foot range, a day tourer, this is a pretty good boat and better than some. It can handle a larger paddler, but so can Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 - which has more comfort, but less performance. I'd recommend the Tsunami for anyone with knee or back problems over this boat.
I think if you're looking for an "all around" kayak to do some rivers, lakes and even some big water, it's great - especially for the money. Don't look for speed, or cutting through the water, because it's a little clunky - but at 14 feet, what can you expect? For what you're paying for, you get a pretty darn good boat. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better boat for the money...unless you buy used.
I use it for costal touring and nightly workouts on a lake in the back of our home. This is a superb little kayak, the only small setback for me is the fact that it is rather on the heavy side - I drive a Ford Expedition and to haul it to a car top that is about six feet high, after a day paddling, is really a workout on it's own. But then again, I bought it mainly for workouts, therefore under this circumstances the weight should be considered a plus as well. Great job Necky!
If you're looking for a great boat for coastal explorations, wandering through marinas, basking in early morning flatwater birding sorties, taking on your less-challenging rivers, boat camping, or simply getting lost only to paddle your way home hours later (make sure you always carry lots of water, sunscreen, and some food), the Zoar sport has all the comfort, storage, and capability of any boat in its price range and slightly above. If I had the money to burn, I don't think I could find a simply more enjoyable paddling platform.
Through rentals and loans I tried a variety of boats from 12 to 15 feet or so: Perception Acadia, Carolina, Catalina; Prijon Calabria; Wilderness Systems Cape Lookout, Cape Horn, Alto, and Manteo; Walden Odyssey; and a few others I'm forgetting. Of all these, the Zoar was the best fit by far, and I bought one. One of the main attractions is the easy in/out. Others have complained that the Zoar's thigh braces are too far forward -- well, for how I'm built, the braces on boats like the Calabria (even though these were adjustable) were way too confining. The Zoar's allow me to make very firm contact with the lower portions of my thighs, yet it's easy to disengage without a lot of contortion. Some boats like the Alto I couldn't even get into, let alone feel comfortable paddling.
The boat handles well and feels a lot quicker in the water than some of the beamier, flatter-bottomed models I tried. The secondary stability is wonderful and reassuring. I am not a skilled turner, yet I feel that this boat will keep me interested as I learn more.
I got a boat with a skeg because I liked the idea of rock-solid foot pegs and I do not plan to do ocean paddling. (Plus it was cheaper.) Now that I have used the boat a few times I find its overhanging skeg a liability in putting the boat up onto the car rack and in storing the boat -- the skeg hangs out where it can very easily catch the ground and as a result can be bent, or the bearing stressed. I will probably take it off and store it in the boat. It is certainly helpful in windy situations but where I'm mostly in small lakes and rivers I can always go ashore and fit the skeg in a few moments. Just for the ease-of-handling issue, I guess a rudder is better as it can be rotated completely up onto the deck and kept out of the way while the boat is being carried.
I recommend the Zoar Sport very much for its craftsmanship, handling and comfort. It is a bit heavy but that is a small negative to be considered with many positives.
I've only paddled 8 or 10 kayaks. It's stable, but not a dog to paddle like the really wide boats. On the other hand, a 17' Pygmy feels a lot more responsive than this boat, and my 13 year old son in a Dagger Callisto has little trouble staying with me (he might say I manage to stay with him). I capsized the Necky on purpose, just to see when it would happen, and it took some effort and came with some warning. I'm too much of a rookie to be sure about the tracking and turning. Sometimes, it seems to really need the skeg, as with a (small) following sea and wind off the rear quarter. It's HEAVY--far and away the hardest of the boats we put on our car, but seems very solid in return. All this writing about it has me ready to go paddle, which says something good about it!
PROS: Fast, Large comfortable cockpit (people call this a "big persons" kayak but I'm 5'6" and I feel very comfortable in it as well), Pretty good size hatches, well built, easy to use rudder, reasonable price, very stable, hatches stay dry.
CONS: Tracking without the rudder is only so-so, some items seem cheap (thigh braces are poor; seat is very uncomfortable as some others have mentioned, it has little padding and is an awkward size)Would have preferred plastic strap down hatches vs. the rubber hatches, and lastly I have found Necky's customer service leaves a lot to be desired.
OVERALL: I love this kayak, while it is not perfect it comes closer to my ideal kayak than the numerous others I looked at. While a score of 7 may seem low (on this site) it is above average. I do recommend this kayak.
Primary stability, good. Secondary stability, good. Tracking, addiquate (bearly). Edging performance, bad (when I leaned right I went left when I leaned left I went left). Fit, sloppy. Workmanship, OK. Rudder linkage Good. In gereral except for the edging problem an OK boat. Will I buy it? NO!
Two reasons. 1) The dealer was trying to "slam dunk" me into it. With no reguards to my wants and desires. To quote, " we sell these to all the really big guys." Since I am a big guy this is obviosly what I should buy. 2) The poor edging performance indicates something not right with the mold. Never get a plastic boat that does not track pretty straight in still water. One that edges badly can never be fixed.
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