I think the fairly unique shape between the hard chines makes Nigel Foster's kayaks different. My Caribou is v'd between the chines. My Bahia is more deeply v'd between the chines. I think every other kayak I have, hard or soft chined, has a v along the waterline at least at the ends. My Legend is not V'd. It is rounded between the chines along the entire waterline. I think this gives it the distinctively loose primary stability, but also contributes to its speed and efficiency, and probably maneuverability. But I actually find the secondary stability quite good and reassuring in the Legend.
I suppose I could describe it this way. Adroit rough water handling requires loose hips, and pretty much a developed disregard towards primary stability. At some point, primary stability honestly failed to register in my mind while on the water the way it used to. I've learned that to handle rough water well, I can't be stiffing up and trying to control the slight degrees of heel that represent primary stability. You have to learn to roll with the little things, and then be more deliberate in your edging when necessary. You shouldn't get that uneasy, off-balance feeling until you've ventured into the limits of your secondary stability. You can't aquire this in a long demo.
The Legend doesn't give you much in the way of primary stability. So someone who relies on it won't get comfortable. Someone who doesn't rely on it, but is just used to it, will take a few outings to forget about it. But someone who relies on primary to feel comfortable is treading a fine line in rough water. They are usually the ones unable to control their edges and getting flipped by waves more often. So I think a kayak like the Legend can be valuable as far as weaning someone off primary stability reliance, and getting them away from strong and/or nervous reactions to every slight heel of the kayak.
The P&H Sirius did that for me. The Sirius was the first kayak I bought where I wondered after the fact if I bit off more than I could chew. I wondered if I could ever get comfortable in it. I learned a great deal from that kayak, a great deal about what I now consider basics for rougher water paddling. I would say the primary is still fairly loose in the Sirius, but not as loose as the Legend. But the Legend's secondary gives me something to lean against, fairly forgiving, where the Sirius doesn't to nearly the same degree. I don't just flip quickly over in the Sirius, secondary stability is there. But I can't go momentarily off balance and feel like the secondary really propped me up, and I do get that feeling from the Legend. Of course the Sirius is a tracker compared to the Legend, it's lower volume, and I don't feel waves acting on it, much like you described the Nordkapp above. The Legend may be a little edgier in that regard, but I don't think to the point of being a weakness. It's just a little more volume, and doesn't have the typical V between the chines anywhere along the waterline. I find it a unique and very capable ride. But it certainly isn't every paddlers choice of kayak.
As far as getting nice long rides in front of waves, I agree with you that maneuverability isn't so important. I remember a number of years ago one of my early times in the surf zone with the Legend. I paddled out from the beach alongside an Explorer, hearing some of the typical talk from Nigel Dennis Kayak fans of what capable surf kayaks the Explorer and Romany are, and I'm certainly not going to argue that. Now a lot of it can be the paddler, but when we were done, there certainly was a lot of interest in that other Nigel's kayak that I was paddling.
Now that I think about it, I had another day paddling with a different Explorer kayak alongside my Legend in some pretty active seas outside of Bogue Inlet. Again, maybe the paddler, although he did seem quite capable or he wouldn't have managed it out there, but we turned around at the mile buoy. I remember smiling and asking him "Are we ready?". It seemed like lickety split, I took off on the first couple waves that hit me, and had to turn around and paddle a long way back to him before doing it again.
I've also used it to paddle back and forth in and out of surf to collect people who were capsized and washed back to shore to help coach them out through a tough breaking inlet. I'm not a coach, I was just a fellow paddler.
All this to say that you don't have to be all that and a bag of chips to appreciate a Legend. There are a lot better paddlers than myself out there. I think it takes better care of a person than someone might initially think when taking it for a demo. I guess it just never struck me as being overly challenging. But there's always a lot of personal preference tied into it. Whatever trips your trigger, right?
Recreational Kayak Paddle
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