we can only speculate...
Posted by: NewbTastic on Sep-05-12 11:19 PM (EST)
My guess? It's probably a marketing thing... perhaps the Vaag & Vital didn't sell great, the designers updated/improved them, and wanted to basically say, "Hey, check it out... NEW and IMPROVED boats! Give us another look!".
Thing is, if that was the reason, it wasn't a great one IMO.
In the high-end sea kayak world, seems like ppl don't often throw themselves at something just because it's 'new', but rather because it's 'tried and true', i.e. the accolades and good reviews have piled up, a particular boat has a great reputation, you start to see a few ppl out on the water paddling them, etc. etc.
NDK and Valley seem to get this. They fiddle with and refine boats they've had around for many years, but they don't change the name. Everyone knows what an Explorer or a Nordkapp is, and that they're good boats. By discontinuing the Vaag and Vital, Maelstrom also got rid of whatever nascent reputation/cache those boats were starting to develop.
Two other odd things about Maelstrom: Their boats have strange-sounding Scandinavian names (yep, the new ones too) even though they're from Quebec, and they love to center their day hatches, which largely defeats the purpose of *having* a day hatch (i.e. significant storage that you can actually GET TO while on the water).
In any case, my experience lines up with yours, the few ppl I've run into who've paddled Maelstrom boats seem to like them quite a bit.
I wouldn't mind checking one out, but I have no idea where I would... there's not even a 'Dealers' link on Maelstrom's website. Kayak Academy in Seattle is the only dealer of theirs' I've ever heard of on the West Coast, and that's about 800 miles away.